All decisions in team�s interest only: Sourav
Penalty runs separate Big Two
Raman retained Bengal coach

Calcutta, April 22: 
�My own belief is that the pressure is much less in the West Indies� Compared to other countries, one can actually relax there��

That was Sourav Ganguly on the eve of his departure � three weeks ago.

Early Monday morning, though, the Indian captain � who has already completed two years in the hottest cricket seat anywhere � had something different to say.

�It�s been tough and the pressure has always been there� This tour is turning out to be very demanding��

The �problems�, after all, have been many: Harbhajan Singh�s non-availability for the first Test, the struggle to avoid the follow-on, his own cheap dismissal at the Bourda Oval, the No. 3 slot controversy, Anil Kumble�s exclusion in Port-of-Spain and, then, Sunday afternoon�s collapse (56 for four).

�I can handle the purely cricket matters� As for all the criticism, let me emphasise I�ve never been too bothered. Some people have to talk; some people just have to talk about Sourav Ganguly. I can�t stop them, can I? So, it�s best to ignore that lot,� Sourav told The Telegraph.

While many slammed Sourav for (initially) being �rigid� about batting at No. 3, absolutely nobody thought it fit to talk about the captain having actually had a fast rethink. �Demoting� himself couldn�t have been easy and, clearly, it was a big decision for Sourav.

Would have been a big decision for any captain.

Somewhat weary after a high-on-concentration innings � in fact, he had just about returned to the hotel � Sourav added: �In any case, let it be on record that all decisions have been in the best interests of the team� My original move to bat at No. 3, reversing that and, then, omitting Anil� I�ve always done what, in the circumstances, would fetch the best results��

The captain, for instance, has always been backing V.V.S. Laxman. And, in the current series at least, the dasher from Hyderabad hasn�t let him down � testimony being fifty-plus scores in each of the three Test innings.

�Laxman stands apart� He�s no ordinary batsman and has been in sublime touch over the past few weeks,� Sourav remarked, adding both �helped� each other during Sunday afternoon�s crisis.

[Despite the weather playing truant, Sourav posted his 16th half-century pretty early on Day-IV. Laxman, of course, had authored his 13th on Sunday itself.]

�What did we keep telling each other? That we should keep concentrating, that we continue to be guided by the situation��

But is it easy for confirmed strokemakers to curb what comes naturally?

�Batting at the highest level has everything to do with being influenced by the conditions� In a crisis, specially, you�ve got to wait and watch� Bottomline is application,� Sourav responded.

Having forced a 259-run advantage by stumps on Day III itself, just what should be an unassailable lead?

�Anything between 325 and 350� The wicket, indeed, is going to deteriorate and� As on many occasions in the past, however, I�ll be keeping fingers crossed,� the captain signed off.

As it turned out, the target is 313 � a few short of what Sourav would have ideally liked.

For the statistically inclined, the West Indies� highest chase, at home, remains 317 for two against Pakistan (Georgetown, 1957-58). Overseas, their best is 348 for five versus New Zealand (Auckland, 1968-69).

Brian Lara�s presence notwithstanding, it�s going to be a real big � if not impossible � ask for the West Indies.


Calcutta, April 22: 
Slow over-rate cost East Bengal the CAB knock-out title on Monday. They completed 41 of the 45 overs in time, which added 31 penalty runs to Mohun Bagan�s tally, and proved decisive.

The Eden was otherwise witnessing an exciting final between the traditional rivals and Mohun Bagan were delicately placed at 162 for six � when play stopped � after East Bengal had managed 174 in 44.4 overs.

East Bengal had themselves to blame, considering they used five slow bowlers who together put in 37 overs.

East Bengal lost two quick wickets after electing to bat and Srikant Kalyani and Alokendu Lahiri led the recovery with a partnership of 60. But five run outs prevented East Bengal from posting a bigger total.

Mohun Bagan openers Subhomoy Das and Mainak Sengupta rattled up 98 in quick time before the former fell for 68 � being bowled by off-spinner Sourashish Lahiri.

Verbal volleys

There was discontent within the East Bengal camp with the skipper complaining that club officials were �not co-operating�. Officials, in return, criticised the players for being �unprofessional�.


East Bengal 174 in 44.4 ovs (Srikant Kalyani 49, Alokendu Lahiri 48; L.R. Shukla 2/31). Mohun Bagan 162/6 in 41 ovs + 31 penalty runs (Subhomoy Das 68; Ajoy Verma 2/32). Mohun Bagan won by 4 wkts.


Calcutta, April 22: 
The CAB has renewed its contract with Bengal coach W.V. Raman for the forthcoming season. In its working committee meeting Monday, the CAB decided to retain the former India opener after a fairly successful last season, in which Bengal reached the Ranji Trophy semi-final.

It was also decided that Raman will get a raise, considering his good performance in the last season. It was announced that M.P. Parmar, CAB�s director of coaching, will not be retained.

There was a proposal to limit a club�s outstation recruitment to two and the working committee, after a long discussion, said a decision will be taken at its next meeting.

The playing conditions of the forthcoming P. Sen Trophy were also finalised and it was announced that a Combined University team will take part in the meet. A newly amended guideline for umpires was also passed.

Women�s cricket

Air India edged out Western Railway by two runs at the Taltala Ground in the opening match of the fourth L.P. Ganguly Memorial women�s cricket tournament. Batting first, Air India scored 224 for seven in 40 overs with internationals Anju Jain and Purnima Rao making 51 each.

Air India restricted Western Railway to 222 for nine in the 39.5 overs. Off-spinner Neelam Patel took four for 30. For Western Railway, Hemlata Kala made 66.

Junior meet

North Howrah CCC cruised to a nine-wicket victory against Rajasthan in the N.C. Kolay Memorial junior cricket tournament. Batting first, Rajasthan posted 159 for seven in 25 overs, with Mainak Roy making 103 of 79 balls. North Howrah reached the target with five overs to spare. Amit Das made 85 of 68 balls.

Md. Sporting win

Mohammedan Sporting beat Shyambazar Club by 42 runs in the Shyamaparasad Mukherjee junior cricket meet. Mohammedan Sporting made 350 for four in 40 overs and restricted Shyambazar to 308 for five.


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