Pressure on Sourav�s men to get it right
Looking back you see yourself in other people: Alistair Campbell
Sasikiran�s day
East bank on batting
Custom-made rally on anvil
105-run win for Wari
Easy for Md. Sp.
Calcutta Races/ 4 for Wednesday�s Grand Annual
Race Review/ �Silver� pulled off courageous win
Mayor to slap tax on horse racing

Guwahati, March 18: 
Actually, it has been an exceptional series. From the unheralded Douglas Marillier�s improvisation to Comeback Lad Yuvraj Singh stealing the limelight... Dinesh Mongia picking wickets and the other Douglas, Hondo, having a terrific burst... The cat-and-mouse game between India and Zimbabwe too.

It�s with good reason, then, that something out of the ordinary is expected in tomorrow�s series-deciding ODI here. Already, the build-up has seen extraordinary drama: Harbhajan Singh being �pushed around� by out-of-their-minds securitymen at the team hotel this afternoon.

It is to be seen whether this nasty incident affects the numero uno off-spinner, generally regarded as being tough mentally.

To return to the decider, the fact that it�s a home engagement suggests the pressure surely is more on India. Not that they should choke, though. Yet, it�s going to be a test which is unlikely to be as smooth as a hot knife easing through butter.

The embarrassing defeat in Kochi did prompt the national selectors to send an unambiguous message: Anything below par, that too against Zimbabwe, is just not acceptable. Yuvraj helped ensure the message had the desired effect, in Hyderabad. However, for Chandu Borde and colleagues to be truly mollified, the Indians must win.

Sourav Ganguly�s team has no choice.

Though Steve Waugh�s Australians won 3-2 last season, it�s pretty unusual for the Indians to be doing much of the running at home. Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Jawagal Srinath have, of course, not been around � even Anil Kumble had to be rested after Kochi. But, then, Zimbabwe aren�t the hottest side on the circuit either.

Stuart Carlisle, though, may not quite agree. In fact, speaking to The Telegraph, the Zimbabwe captain did make the reasonable point about his team �not getting enough credit.� Well, victory a few hours from now, and absolutely nobody can deprive his side of anything.

With the series 2-2, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium is in effect hosting a final. The ongoing engagements have been bilateral, yes, but India�s appalling record in the finals of full-fledged tournaments isn�t exactly inspiring.

�That has to be rectified,� remarked Sourav, while his somewhat cocky opposite number talked about �being confident, but not overconfident.� For good measure, Carlisle added: �Self-belief is important...� However, he accepted his bowlers need to tighten.

At the start, specially, both teams will be looking to deny much of the first 15 overs� advantage. Indeed, it�s significant that the present scoreline has plenty to do with the contribution of Sourav (fifties in the first two matches) and Alistair Campbell (fifties in each of the first three games) right at the top of the order.

It�s tempting to say the initial overs will make all the difference, but both Marillier and Yuvraj have shown the turnaround can really be authored anywhere. This may make the captain�s life more difficult, but definitely makes for more entertaining cricket.

Predictably, much of the attention will be on Campbell and Andy Flower; Sourav and Yuvraj. Yet, with the turnaround-at-any-stage possibility, somebody could do a Marillier or a Rahul Dravid may decide to bat like Sachin. Improvising, after all, is what limited overs cricket is all about.

Incidentally, speaking exclusively, Sourav acknowledged having been �very tense� in Hyderabad. Grinning, he �vowed� to �bat freely� tomorrow. Should the captain fire, half the battle will probably be won then itself.

While Guwahati isn�t humid, what may take its �toll� is the uneven and dull-looking outfield. Frankly, it�s debatable just how many will risk injury on a distinctly intimidating surface.

The wicket, though, looked firm and there could be some carry early on. How well it behaves in the second session, however, isn�t easy to answer. It should, therefore, be abundantly safe to set a target.

Meanwhile, both teams may effect one change from the Hyderabad XI. It�s not been decided, but there�s a good chance that allrounder Vijay Bharadwaj will replace Murali Kartik. As for the visitors, Paul Mbangwa has a hamstring problem and could make way for Gary Brent.

Bharadwaj�s last ODI appearance was back in November 1999.

With big-time cricket returning after 28 months, the craze in these parts has been unprecedented and under enormous pressure have been Assam Cricket Association mandarins. It�s not easy being an office-bearer at a centre which plays host only infrequently.


INDIA (likely): Sourav Ganguly, Dinesh Mongia, V.V.S.Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Mohammed Kaif, Yuvraj Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Ajay Ratra, Vijay Bharadwaj, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan.

ZIMBABWE (likely): Alistair Campbell, Dion Ebrahim, Travis Friend, Andy Flower, Grant Flower, Stuart Carlisle, Heath Streak, Douglas Marillier, Tatenda Taibu, Douglas Hondo, Gary Brent.

Umpires: K.G. Lakshminarayanan (Tamil Nadu), Samir Bhandekar (Mumbai).

Hours of play: 9.00 am to 12.30 pm; 1.00 pm to 4.30 pm.

[The lunch break has been curtailed to counter the possibility of poor light towards the close.]


Guwahati, March 18: 
Earlier this season, the Zimbabwe Cricket Union thought it fit to discipline former captain Alistair Campbell. In the past fortnight, though, the senior pro has played a leading role in Zimbabwe�s more-than-spirited show in the one-day series.

Pretty reserved generally, Campbell did make an exception and spoke at length to The Telegraph. The questions were answered candidly and, often, with emotion.

The following are excerpts

On ten years of international cricket

It�s been a long road... Some good times, bad times... But, I suppose, it�s the same with all pro sport. I�ve enjoyed myself... Indeed, it�s rare to be paid for a job you really enjoy! However, I accept I haven�t realised everything I could have in Test cricket... Hopefully, I�ve got five-six years left and can reach the goals I want to. Thereafter, I�ll be able to look back and say I began well, slipped but, then, picked myself up to be counted among the best.

On Zimbabwe not exactly being competitive in recent times, specially in Test cricket

Look, every nation goes through a phase of rebuilding, reorganising its cricket. Zimbabwe, obviously, can�t be an exception but I agree it�s been disappointing as we�ve always regarded ourselves as being competitive. It�s a situation which needs to and is being addressed. I mean, ten years ago, we were expected to lose. With sponsors coming in, an academy being established and... Today, then, the expectation level is very different. I believe we need to learn from Sri Lanka, the way they handled the integration of the younger players. In any case, we need to set goals and achieve them.

On the rather eventful past few months � being dropped as a disciplinary measure and, then, recalled for this India tour

Yeah, I�ve gone through some tough times... I got misquoted by the tabloids in England, during that country�s tour of Zimbabwe and... It was deemed I made racist comments and was called for a hearing before two Supreme Court judges... Once found guilty, I was taken off international cricket. However, I used that forced break to good effect and complied plenty of runs outside the big league. It helped in my call-up for this trip.

Was it easy accepting the changed circumstances, brief though it was? No... It came as a huge blow. I wasn�t angry, but felt deflated (on being labelled a racist). But, as I�ve just told you, I didn�t waste time. I�ve always maintained if one door closes, you�ve got to open some other door. I did just that, and it reflects my positive nature. Of course, yes, I learnt I�m a cricketer, not a politician. (Adds grinning) Had I not been omitted, I would have missed the birth of my third son (Matthew). So, I also did get some time with the family.

On the lessons learnt after a decade in the big league

Looking back, you can see yourself in other people... For instance, in the youngsters who begin to make a mark... Carefree, no restraints and no inhibitions either. You sort of identify with them... Yet, time moves on and, ten years down the road, you obviously aren�t the same cricketer. It�s different on a personal level as well... The entire period has been a huge learning experience and, whenever I can, I do tell youngsters not to make the mistakes I myself did. If I may add, cricket is an extravagant metaphor for life.

On the players who have influenced him

Javed Miandad and Andy Flower. Though Miandad was nearing the end of his career, I think I was fortunate to have played against him and seen him from such close quarters. I remember getting fifty-odd on a green top in Rawalpindi, back in the early Nineties, and being congratulated by Miandad. That gesture meant a lot. It�s when I recall such instances that my own emotions over what I�ve actually achieved in Test cricket (an average of under-30 in 58 appearances, two hundreds) is mixed...

On his role model

Andy... I don�t have to look any further. His achievements, as I�ve already declared, have been exceptional and I do regard him a phenomenon. Seeing him I realise I haven�t myself been as dedicated... Haven�t worked as hard as Andy, haven�t been as mentally tough as him. But, yes, I�m getting my act right and am sorting things out. I know I�ve been reasonably consistent in the ODIs (over 5,000 runs with seven hundreds) and it�s now a question of being just that in Test cricket.

On whether the early expectations weighed him down

It�s different when you�re doing something and nobody really takes note or, at best, you are dismissed as being run-of-the-mill. With me, though, it was different. People did have expectations from Alistair Campbell and... Nothing is set in stone and nothing in life is guaranteed, but if the simple things are consistently done well then I could, over the next five-six years, score the volume of runs I should have been doing throughout my career.

On whether the captaincy came too early for him (in mid-1996)

Perhaps, yes... I was 24 then and while it�s not exactly an age when one is just out of the nappies, I don�t think the infrastructure was in place (in Zimbabwe) and everybody was still learning... It�s fine seeking to be competitive and being very fit, but you�ve still got to have quality batters and bowlers... The availability of Murray Goodwin and Neil Johnson did, I accept, make a difference and we began preparing for the 1999 World Cup. Making the Super-Six was an ambition and, as it turned out, we did... Indeed, at that point in time it appeared Zimbabwe cricket could only go forward. Yet, not much later, performances began to dip for a number of reasons.

On why he quit as captain

Looking back, I was probably a bit harsh on myself, but a time had come when I stopped enjoying the captaincy. A bit of frustration crept in, my own batting got affected... I then thought I wasn�t doing enough as a batsman and, so, was denying somebody the opportunity of playing... Giving a team-speech, going for nets, interacting with the Media... It all became a chore. That�s when I had a discussion with my wife (Adrienne) � because my personal life was also getting affected � and decided to relinquish the captaincy. I still remember what Andy told me: �You�ve done well and, the next time you lead, you will be a better captain.�

On whether, if offered, he will again accept the top job

(Smiles) In the right conditions, yes. Frankly, it will have to be on my terms and I strongly believe there shouldn�t be outside interferences. Clearly, you�ve got to be your own man. After all, it�s the captain who is held accountable not the rest. Your head is in your own hands, as it were. Believe me, it�s tough captaining a side which doesn�t win often enough. It drains you when the bottomline doesn�t show that whatever you�re trying is working. This could be one reason for the big turnover of captains in Zimbabwe.

On whether it�s easy for a captain to overnight enter the dressing room as just an ordinary player

There definitely is an adjustment period and the emotions are different... Fortunately, Andy � who succeeded me � and I think alike and, so, there wasn�t any problem. Ideally, a captain should do the job for three years and, then, take a break.

On Zimbabwe getting Geoff Marsh on board as coach

Couldn�t have had somebody better to try and resurrect our fortunes. His understanding of the game, his work-ethic... It�s brilliant. Provided he is given the right personnel to work with, we should become consistently competitive.

Finally, on getting only one fifty in the two-Test series but posting fifty-plus scores in each of the first three ODIs

(After a pause) Well, I should have got one hundred in the Tests... As for the ODIs, tomorrow is a big game and I�ll be happy if my contribution helps Zimbabwe win this series.


Calcutta, March 18: 
Day Two of the Goodricke Open clearly belonged to GM Krishnan Sasikiran of India who was at his innovative best at Alekhine Chess Club today. Playing against the English GM Bogdan Lalic, Sasikiran put up a sterling performance to make short work of the latter in a sharp tactical battle. With today�s win Sasikiran jointly leads the field with five others on 2 points.

Playing with the white pieces, Sasikiran launched an assault on his opponent�s kingside by g4 on the 15th move which forced Lalic to weaken his defence and Sasikiran then wrapped up the game comfortably in a queen and pawn endgame.

Lalic was all praise for his young opponent after the game. �I had come prepared for 1d4 which Sasikiran normally plays but he surprised me with 1.Nf3. His 15th move to g4 was a novelty and totally unexpected,� Lalic told The Telegraph later.

World junior girls� champion Koneru Humpy, however, disappointed, playing listlessly, to go down to Russian GM Alexey Kuzmin in a double fianchetto opening. Humpy lost a pawn in the opening for little compensation, and to make matters worse lost a piece after which it was curtains for her.

GM Abhijit Kunte, playing with White against GM Pavel Kotsur of Kazakstan, stumbled, as he blundered in a drawish endgame to gift the point to his opponent.

Local GM Dibyendu Barua held the second seed, GM Alexander Motylev of Russia, to a draw in the Dragon variation of the Sicilian defence in 20 moves. Rahul Shetty once again impressed and nearly held GM Evgeny Gleizerov of Russia, but the latter played the endgame in copy book fashion to net the full point.


Alexie Aleksadrov (1.5) drew with Andrey Shariyazdanov (1.5), Diyendu Barua (1.5) drew with Alexander Motylev (1.5), Abhijit Kunte (1) lost to Pavel Kotsur (2), K.Sasikiran (2) beat Bogdan Lalic (1), Asren Yegiazarian (2) beat Ehsan Ghaem Maghami (1), Krishna Thapa (1) lost to Maxim Sorokin (2), Alexander Goloshchapov (2) beat G.B. Prakash (1), Alexander Fominyh (2) beat S Kidambi (1), Rahul Shetty (1) lost to Evgeny Gliezerov (1.5), Drazen Sermek (1) drew with Tejas Bakre (1), Sarunas Sulskis (1.5) beat V Saravanan (0.5), Koneru Humpy (0.5) lost to Alexey Kuzmin (1.5), Sergei Ovsejevitsch (1.5) beat Saheli Dhar Barua (0.5), Sriram Jha (1) drew with R.B. Ramesh (1), P Mahesh Chandran (1.5) beat K Visweswaran (0.5), T.S. Ravi (0.5) lost to Abdulla Al-Rakib (1.5), Joerg Blauert (1.5) beat Enamul Hossain (0.5), Md.N Al Sayed (1.5) beat Dinesh Kr Sharma (0.5), Rahul Sangma (0.5) lost to Ruslan Sherbakov (1.5), Sandipan Chanda (1) beat P.D.S. Girinath (0), Aarthie Ramaswamy (0.5) drew with P Konguvel (0.5), Lanka Ravi (1) beat Yogesh Gore (0), Swati Ghate (1) beat Deep Sengupta (0), Vikramjit Singh (1) beat Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury (0), Nisha Mohota (0.5) drew with S Satyapragyan (0.5), Suvrajit Saha (0.5) drew with Somak Palit (0.5), Wong Zi Jing (1) beat Ghader Pour Shayesteh (0).


Calcutta, March 18: 
One common refrain of Sourav Ganguly has been that domestic cricket is very rarely played in sporting wickets. It�s true that unless we have lively tracks we will not produce quality cricketers.

The wicket earmarked at the Eden Gardens for the East-Central Zone Duleep Trophy tie from tomorrow will be no different to the placid tracks witnessed in the circuit.

The handful of grass on the dry surface will be of little significance as also the bounce.

The tournament from this season is being played on uncovered pitches and that means something to the players.

�It�s good for the seam bowlers who can utilise the conditions in the first session. Similarly, the first two hours will also be a big test for the batsmen,� said East skipper Sanjay Raul.

His counterpart Gagan Khoda, though, sounded a note of caution. �There is a major drawback � what happens if it rains? The match might just be washed out.�

The meet has already been robbed off the glamour element with only Shiv Sundar Das and Deep Dasgupta being the available current India players among the two sides. Central will be the worst sufferer, missing Sanjay Bangar, Murali Kartik and Mohammed Kaif to the senior team while Amit Pagnis will be touring South Africa with the A side.

East�s Debashish Mohanty and Rohan Gavaskar will also be unavailable because of their A commitments.

But there is enough motivation left for the young hopefuls with the selection of the West Indies tour slated for March 21.

Central, having lost to West Zone by 161 runs in their opening game, will go all out for an outright victory here.

East, going into their opener are banking on their batting strength to begin on a strong footing. Led by India openers Das and Deep, the batting looks formidable but Central will be no pushovers either.

And as always, the first innings lead could decide the outcome.

Sanjib Sanyal was included in the squad this evening as �personal problems� forced Mihir Diwakar to opt out.


EAST ZONE (from): Sanjay Raul (captain), Shiv Sundar Das, Prabhanjan Mallick, Ajoy Barik, Rashmi Ranjan Parida, Subhamoy Das, Sanjib Sanyal, Sourashish Lahiri, Deep Dasgupta, Utpal Chatterjee, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Rajiv Raja, Zakaria Zuffri, Mark Ingty, Timir Chanda.

CENTRAL ZONE (from): Gagan Khoda, Jyoti Yadav, Jai Prakash Yadav, Yere Goud, Raja Ali, Tenjinder Pal Singh, Rohit Jalani, Harvinder Singh, Salabh Srivastav, Kulmani Parida, Narendra Hirwani, Rahul Kanwat, Sanjay Pandey, Pares Sutane, Samir Khare.

Umpires: S. Tarapore and B.K. Sadashiv.

Match Referee: Rajendra Shah.


Calcutta, March 18: 
�Langley Park Stage�, of the Rally of Australia is being recreated in Bangalore for the Maruti Autocross Track Attack. This will be a custom designed special stage event, to be held on April 7, in the sprawling Palace Grounds, in the heart of Bangalore city. This is an event of the Motorsports Association of India (MAI).

According to information reaching here the organisers, Bangalore Riders Sports Club, hit upon this idea just for the sheer drama involved in the �double action� as seen in the original Langley Park Stage.

The basic idea is a bridge/tunnel where two simultaneously racing cars, starting from two lanes next to each other cross over to the other side of the track, one taking the tunnel/bridge and the other passing exactly at the same time below.

The track will be gravel, and will be approximately 1.2 km, with fast corners, short straights, and hairpin bends.

Maruti Motorsports, the newly formed division of Maruti Udyog Ltd have joined hands with MAI. Two rally-prepared Maruti Balenos are available to the organisers.

There will be two different categories, one where everyone can participate and the other on invitation for present and past champions, known as the Champion of Champions Race.

There will be other cars in the general category.


Calcutta, March 18: 
Wari rode Arindam Das� 86 and Aurijit Bose�s 64 to a 105-run win over Shyambazar in the A.N. Ghosh memorial Trophy tie today. In another tie, Devang Gandhi�s five-wicket haul clinched Mohun Bagan a 30-run win over Eastern Railway.


A.N. Ghosh meet

Wari 351/6 in 45 ovs (Arindam Das 86, Aurijit Bose 64, Avishek Jhunjhunwala 46, Saikat Mukherjee 31). Shyamabazar 246 in 45 (Amitava Chakraborty 75, Aditya Sengupta 65; Kaushik Bhattacharjee 3/33). Wari won by 105 runs.

Mohun Bagan 291/6 in 45 (Mainak Sengupta 66, Sanjib Sanyal 54, Devang Gandhi 39). Eastern Railway 261/8 (Souvik Mukherjee 90, Asif Murtaza 70; Devang Gandhi 5/58). Mohun Bagan won by 30 runs.

CAB League championship

Play-off quarter final

Tapan Memorial 138 (Joydeep Mukherjee 44, Ranabir Nath 42; Ajay Verma 5/11). East Bengal 101/4 (Ajay Verma 28; Rajib Dutta 3/37). Match to continue.


Calcutta, March 18: 
Azam Ali�s double strike was enough for Mohammedan Sporting to beat Jagrihi 2-0 in the BHA league first division group B tie today.

In another match, Muslim Institute beat Belgachia United by a Mritunjoy Saha goal.

Dhrub downs Sewa

Dhrub Kumar beat Manoj Kumar Sewa 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 in the Central Excise Open tennis meet today.

OTHER RESULTS � Indradeep Mitra bt Nirvick Mohinta 6-2, 6-4; Rupesh Roy bt Robin Das 6-4, 6-0; Arif N. Hassan bt Sukanto Roy 6-2, 7-6 (8-6); Tapan Haldar bt Arup Mullick 6-3, 6-0; Ajay Singh bt Simon Chakraborty 6-2, 6-4; Bhagirath Kumar bt Arpit Sharma 6-0, 6-2.


Calcutta, March 18: 
There are only four horses in the line-up for the Grand Annual Handicap on Wednesday. First race starts at 1.35 pm.


1.Colorado Claro Handicap 1,600m (Cl IV, Cl V eligible, Rt 00-50) 1.35 pm: Scavenger�s Son 61; Alborada 60.5; Grand Lodge 60.5; Brave Show 59.5; Adeline 56.5; Black Mane 56.5; Impressive Prince 53; Royal Ruler 51.

2 Zara Shah Cup 2,000m (Cl II, Cl III eligible, Rt 44-94) 2.15 pm: Illustrious Reign 60; Winning Glory 56.5; Argolis 56; No Regrets 54.5; Alamito 53.5; Raring To Go 53; Cool Quest 48.5; Yukon 47.5.

3. Grand Annual Handicap 1,600m (Handicap for 3-y-o only) 2.45 pm: Royal City 60; Assertive Dancer 59.5; Carbon Steel 53; Pehlvan 48.5.

4. Valamour Handicap 1,100m (Cl III, 5-y-o & over, Rt. 44-72) 3.20 pm: Alkido 60.5; Crimson King 56.5; Gallant Romeo 56; Khublei 55.5; Winning Hand 55.5; Bird�s Empire 55; Kargil Soldier 55; Ardon 53.5; Classic Pursuit 51.5; Ace Of Spades 50; Simply Monarch 47.5.

5. Mysore Race Club Cup 1,200m (Cl I; Rt 88 & over) 3.55 pm: Beneficent 64.5; Acute 57; Comedy of Errors 54; Soviet Ride 54; Clarice Cliff 53; Dancing Dreams 53; Secret Blessing�s 51; Ballet Master 50; Amusing 49; Annella 47.

6. Nikita Handicap 1,200m (Cl V; 00-28) 4.30 pm: Ever So Loyal 60; Wild Is The Wind 59.5; Darth Vader 58.5; Crest Star 57.5; Flying Power 55.5; Jayaashva 55.5; Blushing Brave 54.5; Don Vittorio 51.5; Gul 49.

Jackpot: 2; 3; 4; 5 & 6.

Treble: (i) 1;2 & 3; (ii) 4; 5 & 6.

Calcutta, March, 18: 
When Touch of Silver necked out Alamito in the 2,800m Calcutta St. Leger last Saturday, the Daniel David-trained filly only went on to confirm that she was a great fighter. A winner of four of the five local classics that she had contested, the Serious Spender-Corviglia daughter had come out victorious by narrow margin on each of the two occasions she was pitted against her male counterparts.

Record books will never have a mention of her courageous performance in the Leger but those who were privy to Touch of Silver�s plight before she made the line-up and her subsequent triumph may always talk about her effort. She was off feed for couple of days before the big event. Constipation had compounded her problems. But her ring odds never budged from 2-10 indicating total respect from the layers of odds.

The neck verdict was however, a bit flattering for the runner-up from Bharath Singh�s yard. Although, it looked like a clever ploy when Cristopher gave a long breather to the leader Alamito nearing the 800m marker thus dropped to the rear. Cristopher tried take the winner by surprise with his renewed effort in the last furlong of the race. However, Prakash had much up his sleeve as he accomplished the task with hands and heels only.

Prakash was also seen at advantage on Alborada and River Melody � his other fancied runners on a day that was otherwise ruled by outsiders. In fact lesser fancied horses have been ruling the roost for some time now. Last Wednesday jockeys Imran Chisty and Asghar were in luck with a double apiece through friendless winners.


Calcutta, March 18: 
The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) has decided to levy amusement tax on horse races in a bid to make the civic body financially self-reliant, mayor Subrata Mukherjee said today. Reacting to the CMC�s decision, Vineet Verma, CEO and Secretary RCTC said: �We are still not aware of it. We will look into the matter when notified.�

Incidentally, RCTC is the highest entertainment tax payer in the state.


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