Sehwag pulls India out of woods
Parthiv Patel youngest in gloves
Nothing in life is guaranteed, believes Zaheer Khan
Team peaking at the right pace: Bhutia
State body gave me no help: Ali
Yusuf Ali joins leading pack
In The City
Calcutta Races/ Allaying set to strike again
Track trials/ Alternator catches eye

Nottingham, Aug. 8: 
Forget the glamour and perks, captaincy isn�t easy. The more difficult the decision, greater the risk of brickbats. Being 0-1 down in the four-Test series, Sourav Ganguly had to make a bold move. He did Thursday morning, at Trent Bridge.

Most captains would have opted to field � influenced by overcast conditions, if not anything else. Sourav, however, chose not to �protect� his batsmen even though the chance of early setbacks in the second Test was pretty high.

As it turned out, India suffered early losses but, then, the dismissals were largely self-inflicted. Sourav, therefore, needn�t rush for cover if the brickbats actually rain. In any case, by early stumps, India had recovered somewhat.

Friday will be a fresh day and the onus is now on Sourav himself (29 not out) and V.V.S.Laxman (unbeaten on 22). It isn�t an easy wicket and, given the seaming-swinging conditions, anything above 325 will hold India in excellent stead.

Day-I, by the way, saw 73 minutes lost to light. The first interruption was some 15 minutes before the scheduled tea (141 for three). On resumption, play didn�t go much beyond an hour.

That period, however, saw the exit of centurion Virender Sehwag. At the (tea) break, he was on a disciplined but strokeful 85. Sehwag�s career-best 106 came in 257 minutes, off 183 deliveries (18x4). Not often do Indian openers get a Test hundred overseas, not often do natural strokemakers adapt so beautifully to a demanding situation.

The Delhiite, in only his second Test as opener, did all that and more. Indeed, at times, Sehwag reminded us of the Sachin Tendulkar of old. It�s a pity that today�s Sachin seems burdened by always having to deliver. Perhaps, he has become just too conscious of the weight on his shoulders.

Sehwag, who bettered his 105 on debut (Bloemfontein, last November), was set for a longer innings when Craig White uprooted the middle-stump with one fairly straight. Sehwag paid for playing the wrong line.

But till Sehwag was around, ethereal drives � particularly through off � weren�t at a premium. More than the timing, his temperament stood out. While the bigger names failed to master admittedly tough conditions (plenty of the conventional as also some reverse swing), Sehwag did.

Just a few days ago, in Worcester, Sehwag had told The Telegraphno ched-chaad� outside off was his priority. He didn�t forget that. Sehwag also didn�t forget that a hundred had been for the asking in innings No.1 at Lord�s. He was 16 short there.

Skill alone isn�t the essence of cricket. The ability to quickly learn from mistakes is as central as talent and natural ability. For his part, Sehwag acknowledged that �never before� had he seen the ball swing so prodigiously. He also accepted it took �some time� for him to settle. Predictably, Sehwag picked Matthew Hoggard as most troublesome.

Earlier, specialist opener Wasim Jaffer exited first, playing on to one from Hoggard, which didn�t do too much. It was poor judgement and, again, questions will be raised over Jaffer�s competence to open at the highest level.

Equally, questions will be raised over why the England selectors weren�t too interested in Hoggard till last winter�s tour of India. His control, after all, is remarkable. Moreover, he catches batsmen off guard � especially Indians.

Next out was the usually reliable Rahul Dravid. Having batted for over an hour, Dravid gave it all away by committing early on the front foot and guiding Hoggard into the hands of agile debutant Robert Key at first slip.

At 34 for two, in walked Sachin. A pulled four off Andrew Flintoff reminded the handsome Trent Bridge turnout he meant business. Till he was done in by the lack of bounce (from Dominic Cork) and his own moment of madness, Sachin did look determined.

As part of strategy, though, the England bowlers hardly bowled at his pads. When someone did, like White after lunch, Sachin helped himself to a boundary. Clearly, England are in a mental game against him � a battle within the larger war. And, thus far, they are winning.

In fact, the Sachin-Sehwag partnership had just about reached take-off point when the maestro chose to pull one from Cork wide outside off and dragged it on to the stumps. Even a greenhorn would have been wary of attempting that. Sachin�s 34 came in a 88-minute stay, off 68 deliveries (6x4).

Sachin�s dismissal reduced India to 108 for three and, with Sourav taking guard, Nasser Hussain reintroduced debutant Stephen Harmison. The latter is game for bending his back, but needs to be sharper despite beginning his international career with four successive maidens.

However, if Hussain was banking on speed to evict his opposite number, Sourav was backing himself to stay put. He even went without a run in the last 19 balls till tea.

All-pace attack

England, interestingly, opted for an all-pace attack. Specifically, Ashley Giles� exclusion allowed Hoggard, Flintoff, Cork (who underwent a precautionary X-ray on his right knee late in the day), White and Harmison to play. While Harmison became England�s 611th Test cricketer, �good buddy� Key became the 612th.

India had to cap Parthiv Patel. A few months past his 17th birthday, Patel became the youngest Test wicketkeeper anywhere.


Nottingham, Aug. 8: 
Last November, first-choice wicketkeeper Samir Dighe pulled out of the Bloemfontein Test minutes before the toss. On Thursday morning, it was Ajay Ratra�s turn to make himself unavailable at Trent Bridge.

As reported in these columns Thursday, Ratra was injured during the match-eve nets. However, the official viewpoint was �don�t worry.� Manager Ranga Reddy himself said so, something repeated by physio Andrew Leipus.

As it turned out, the blow to Ratra�s left toe (courtesy a yorker from one of the local bowlers) rendered him immobile in the morning. Incidentally, Ratra was also struck on the arm.

So, with Ratra unavailable, 17-year-old Parthiv Patel became the beneficiary. In Bloemfontein, Deep Dasgupta had gained. Ratra, though, hasn�t suffered a fracture. �The X-ray didn�t reveal any damage,� Reddy told The Telegraph.

On his maiden trip with the senior team, junior World Cupper Patel has become India�s third youngest Test cricketer � after Sachin Tendulkar and Laxman Sivaramakrishnan.

More than that, Patel became the youngest-ever Test wicketkeeper. The earlier record, set half-a-century ago, stood in Hanif Mohammed�s name.


Nottingham, Aug. 8: 
From little-known Shrirampur, in Maharashtra, to a wonderful spell at Lord�s not many days ago, Zaheer Khan has travelled quite a distance. Yet, as he himself believes, the journey has just begun. Zaheer, now the Indian spearhead, spoke to The Telegraph on the eve of the second Test which got underway Thursday.

Following are excerpts

On 22 months of international cricket

I�ve learnt a lot... I�ve had ups and downs but, today, I�m a much better bowler. What have I learnt most? The importance of length. More than anything else, length makes the difference... Being a left-hander, I�ve also understood it pays most when the ball comes in to the right-handers. That delivery creates a doubt.

On whether he is now more mentally tough as well

Woh toughness hamesha rahi hai...

On whether any one series/tour has taught him more

The recent trip to the West Indies, definitely. Conditions weren�t conducive to fast bowling and, while I was prepared for the wickets being slow, I didn�t expect such flat tracks. At the very least, I was expecting them to be two-paced. That I had long spells in adverse conditions made me a better bowler. Indeed, the more you bowl, the more you learn. And, at the appropriate time, I don�t have reservations about experimenting.

On having begun the West Indies series in somewhat of a loose manner

I think I was off target only on the very first day of the Test series (in Georgetown). After that, I got the rhythm and kept improving. If the going isn�t good, I try and look at my recordings to see where I need to work on. I did so in the West Indies and that self-education helped. Jawagal Srinath�s guidance was also beneficial.

On Srinath�s tips

He has always been helpful. In the West Indies, specifically, he pointed out I was running in slowly... Basically, Srinath asked me to study my run-up. I did so, at nets, and found he was right. It helps if a senior takes interest.

On being dropped straight after the tour of South Africa, late last year

I was disappointed... At the same time, I did realise I hadn�t met the team�s requirements in South Africa... I accepted I hadn�t performed to potential, had let the team down ... However, that disappointment apart, I took my exclusion in a positive manner and resolved to make a quick comeback. I did, during the ODIs against England.

On failing in South Africa

The top reason was that my first big game after the injury-forced lay-off was a Test match (Bloemfontein)... Having learnt first-hand, I can say with conviction that nets can never be a substitute for the actual stuff, especially after an injury. It didn�t help that the first-class game ahead of that first Test, in Chatsworth, was washed out... Looking back, it would surely have been different had I not missed the Test series in Sri Lanka.

On being temporarily �demoted� to playing Ranji Trophy

(Grins) I was determined to make a comeback and, to get into rhythm, knew I had to bowl more and more. That�s what I did for Baroda. Also, I didn�t neglect the training aspect.

On his preparation for the ongoing tour of England

What I kept telling myself is that I�ve got to keep the ball up... That I�ve got to be disciplined. We�ve been here for seven weeks or so and I�ve tried not to let anybody down.

On the batsman who has made him work overtime

(After a pause) I wouldn�t like to single out anybody... I do my job, the batsman does his.

On whether he should be unleashing more yorkers

With the protection available to bowlers, it�s easier in the one-dayers...

On whether Srinath�s retirement from Test cricket has made him �secure�

I wasn�t insecure when Srinath was available, nor am I now taking my place for granted. Nothing in life is guaranteed. Moreover, performance matters, not anything else.

On whether, having become the lead bowler, he is now under more pressure

Not at all. Rather, I�m happy I�ve got more responsibility.

On whether he has learnt from watching the Glenn McGraths and Shaun Pollocks from close

Oh, yes... The discipline they maintain, the low percentage of balls down leg... Of course, it�s been a learning experience. McGrath, in particular, is an all-time great. Not only does he consistently land in the right place, he can extract bounce as well...

On whether he sets targets

(Grins again) I like taking things match-by-match, but I still do have short and long-term goals. One should constantly aim at something.

On Dennis Lillee being his inspiration

Interacting with him at the (MRF Pace) Foundation set me on the road to international cricket... More than just fast bowling, Lillee had so much to say about mental toughness, about accepting challenges... Incidentally, I�d read his Art of Fast Bowling before meeting him one-to-one.

Finally, on captain Sourav Ganguly�s faith in him

Has always been there... Even on my debut (ICC KnockOut, Nairobi), he gave me the new ball straightaway... I try not to disappoint.


Calcutta, Aug. 8: 
Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia said the team at the LG Cup in Vietnam was peaking at the right time and sounded confident of clinching the title on Saturday.

�The team has been picking up with every match and if we can keep the momentum going, we are quite hopeful of beating Vietnam in the final,� Bhaichung told The Telegraph over telephone from Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday.

Bhaichung said the entire team played against the Indonesians as a unit and dominated the proceedings from the beginning. The 3-0 verdict over the reigning champions was richly deserved, he added.

In a commendable display, S. Venkatesh put India ahead before Debjit Ghosh and Bijen Singh completed the demolition job.

Bhaichung said the team had adapted to the 3-5-2 system quite well under the new coach Stephen Constantine. �We have been playing in such a system where there is always room for improvement. But we have fitted in it well and that gives us enough confidence to take on the opponents,� the captain said.

Incidentally, India are considering this tournament as their preparation for next month�s Asian Games in Pusan. As part of this, Constantine had earlier declared his intention of making the team play total football.

Bhaichung admitted India�s attacks had been exceptional. �Attack has been our key feature in this tournament and at no point of time, had we allowed Indonesia to come back into the game today,� he said.


Calcutta, Aug. 8: 
The unrelenting surge of felicitation and encomiums, now sweeping Mohammed Ali Qamar ever since his golden performance at the Manchester Commonwealth Games, could hardly distract the boxer from his future and the past struggles to aim at it. It is a success, which he claims to be his very own and any kind of intrusion from any part immediately meets with derision.

�It is my own success. Nobody � even the state association or the government � has had any part in it. Only my club (Kidderpore School of Physical Culture) and family can stake a claim to it,� Qamar said Thursday.

�I have been groomed by my coaches (Mehrajuddin Ahmed, Aloke Kundu and Akram Hussain) under conditions, not at all favourable for boxing. In Kidderpore, we don�t have a good ring, nor proper gloves. What I have done and achieved, thus, remains very much personal,� quipped the 22-year old during a chat with the reporters in the city.

Qamar�s outrage couldn�t have at a worst time for the state body when the WBBA is trying to use his success for its brand image. �It�s true we had little role in the making of Qamar,� owned up Asit Banerjee, WBBA secretary and also vice-president of the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation.

�We�ve been consistently seeking aid from the government and other sources but to no effect. Qamar�s achievement may just provide us with the necessary platform to strengthen our demands,� Banerjee added. He complained that the Bengal Olympic Association has not taken adequate steps to encourage boxing in the state.

Significantly, the light-flyweight gold in Manchester may end Qamar�s search for better facilities as well.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Thursday promised a modern ring at his club, to be named after him, as well as financial assistance, if needed, for his overseas training, as well as a house in either Salt Lake or Rajarhat. Add to this Mohammedan Sporting�s present of life membership to him. All this, however, makes least of a distraction for the man concerned. �Physically, I�m ok, but technically, I have to increase my speed,� Qamar reiterated. �The Manchester period is over now, I�m now concentrating on Pusan. I�m confident I�ll make it.�


Calcutta, Aug. 8: 
Yusuf Ali set the KGA course ablaze despite the afternoon drizzle with a five under 67 and joined Jyoti Randhawa and Gaurav Ghei at the top of the leaderboard on Thursday, the second day of the Rs. 10 lakhs Hero Honda Open South 2002.

The 26-year-old Calcutta pro who teed off from the 10th tee sunk six birdies and mad e only one bogey, according to information received here.

At the top of the leaderboard along with Ali were Jyoti Randhawa and Gaurav Ghei, both carding a score of 3-under 69 to end the day at an overall 5-under 139.

The cut was applied at nine over 153 and 55 pros made it.

The other two overnight leaders � Vijay Kumar and Inderjit Bhalotia had mixed fortunes. While Kumar had an easy round carding a two-under score for an overall 140, Bhalotia found the going tough with a bogey on the very first hole and later on the seventh, ninth and tenth and double-bogeys on the 11th and shot one over on the 15th. A birdie on the last hole was a saving grace.

Meanwhile, 2001-02 Order of Merit leader Mukesh Kumar who had a par first round, also shot a 3-under 69 to tally 3-under 141.

Local lad Rahul Ganapathy made a blazing start, shooting four consecutive birdies on the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th. However, he faced problems with his driving on the front nine and returned a card of 2-over for an overall 1-over 145.

Another local lad, C Muniyappa, who had an impressive first round, shot a par-round to finish at 1-under 143.

Leaders after Round II

139 Jyoti Randhawa, Gaurav Ghei, Yusuf Ali; 140 Vijay Kumar; 141 Mukesh Kumar; 142 Minky Barbora; 143 Ashok Kumar, C Muniyappa; 144 Arjun Singh, Shiv Prakash.


Aug. 8: 

Baboor to skip meet

All leading players, except Chetan Baboor, will be seen in action in the national ranking table tennis championships (East), to be held in Durgapur next week.

Organisers Burdwan District Table Tennis Association claimed the players� entry has already exceeded the 300-mark and they might be tempted to cut it short. According to TTFI rules, eight best-ranked players each from the states plus eight institutions are permitted to take part in a zonal meet. The host zone provide the rest.

The August 14-18 meet, which returns to Durgapur after 28 years, will be held in six events, but the cadet categories have been scrapped, BTTA secretary Ashish Dutta said.

A total booty of Rs 1.23 lakh will be on offer while men�s and women�s singles champions will take home a prize of Rs. 30,000 and Rs. 15,000, respectively.

India open vs Bangla

India will take on Bangladesh in their opening match on October 16 in the final rounds of AFC under-20 championship, to be held in Qatar. India�s next match will be against Japan on October 19 and three days later, they will take on Saudi Arabia.

India made it to the final round from group four, beating Bhutan 4-1 and Kyrgyzstan 4-0 and drawing Tajikistan 0-0 last month. Champions of eleven such groups meet the host nation in the final round.

Bagan grumble

Mohun Bagan have taken strong exception to the schedule of the IFA Shield, saying they may skip the tournament since it clashes with the Asian Club championship.

The Shield will be held between September 15 to 30 while Mohun Bagan take on Sri Lanka�s Sandors Club in a Asian Club championship first round match at home on September 22. They will play the away tie on October 9. Saying this, club secretary Anjan Mitra said he will also not release players for the Santosh Trophy (Oct 17-Nov 3, in case Mohun Bagan make it to the next round. Their Round II first leg match is to take place on October 23 against a Maldives outfit.

Meanwhile, Basudeb Mondal can be available for Mohun Bagan against Port Trust in their Super Division match on Saturday after the AIFF ruled out a Bhratri Sangha protest over the player�s �improper� transfer documents for a brief stint in Bangladesh).

Match for ailing referee

Players from present and past times will take part in a charity match for former Fifa referee Pratul Chakraborty, who has been lying bedridden for quite some time. The match will be held at Srirampore Stadium on Sunday and the donation will be handed over Chakraborty for his treatment.

Para football

Soft drinks major Pepsi promote and sponsor football tournaments in different areas of the city as well as North and South 24 Parganas and Howrah. They will be involved in 44 tournaments, to be held between August and October.


FOOTBALL: CFL Super Division � East Bengal vs Bhratri Sangha (East Bengal); Mohammedan Sporting vs Eastern Railway (Salt Lake). 1st division group A � Kidderpore SC vs City AC (Tarun Sangha); Rajasthan vs Peerless (Md. Sporting); Bata SC vs Kalighat Club (SAP-1); George Telegraph vs BNR RC (Howrah Stadium). Matches from 3.30 pm.

FOOTBALL: 53rd annual meet final at Viveknagar Maidan at 7 pm.

SNOOKER: One frame open handicap meet at Oswal Sports Club.


Calcutta, Aug. 8: 
Fields in Friday�s race-card are poor but the city racing is known to produce excitement out of nothing. Nevertheless, the likes of Allayings and Rare Golds look cut above rivals in their respective events and the two Khaitan-owned horses are expected to deliver the goods in the hands of Cristopher Alford.

Allaying, in particular, needs to produce her last winning run and the Excalibur�s Lake-Amalita mare may cruise home in the 1,400m Mysore Race Club Cup, the feature event on the day. Rare Gold, on the other hand, is up against a mediocre lot and she may claim the Selector Handicap.

Read as: Horse nos, last four runs, horse name, trainer, jockey, weight & draw:

1st Race at 2.00 p.m.

Bhishma Cup 1,800m (Cl II; Cl III eligible Rt. 44-94)
1 0100 Argolis [Daniel] Merchant 60.0 4
2 1002 Illustrious Reign [Jaiswal] R. Koch 58.5 3
3 4022 No Regrets [Javed] R. Gowli 54.5 2
4 3000 Discomatic [Daniel] A. P. Singh 53.0 1

1. Argolis (1) 2. No Regrets (3) 3. Illustrious Reign (2)

Argolis: Benefit of outing may help his cause, though closely handicapped against No Regrets. No Regrets: May go close to Argolis. Illustrious Reign: May place.

2nd Race at 2.40 p.m.

Zeenee Handicap 1,100m (Cl III; 5-y-o & over Rt. 44-72)
1 0004 Scarlet Raider [Daniel] Merchant 60.0 8
2 4042 Sky Command [Mujeeb] Jayaprakash 60.0 7
3 0001 Gallant Romeo [Daniel] Asghar 57.5 1
4 0031 On The Bit [Stephens] F. A. Khan 56.5 4
5 0400 Lawyer�s Love [R. Alford] I. Chisty 54.5 5
6 3022 Queen�s Logic [Bharath] C. Alford 54.5 2
7 4010 Sovereign Bullet [Rodrigues] Surjeet S. 53.0 6
8 4203 Winning Hand [Javed] Saran S. 52.0 3

1. On The Bit (4) 2. Queen�s Logic (6) 3. Sky Command (2)

On The Bit: May repeat her last eye-catching victory. Queen�s Logic: Looking well, capable of upsetting this lot. Sky Command: Always a place prospect

3rd Race at 3.10 p.m.

Mysore Race Club Cup 1,400m (Cl I; Rt. 88 & over)
1 0201 Ballet Master [Daniel] Merchant 60.0 1
2 4040 Anolini [Mujeeb] S. Shanker 58.0 4
3 - 012 Harry The Horse [Stephens] Rutherford 56.5 2
4 - 411 Allaying [Bharath] C. Alford 56.0 3
5 2031 Estocade [Stephens] P. Alford 56.0 5
6 4343 Secret Blessing�s [Daniel] B. Gurang 55.0 6

1. Allaying (4) 2. Harry The Horse (3) 3. Estocade (5)

Allaying: A runaway winner. Capable of repeating the performance. Harry The Horse: Doing well in his morning workouts. Estocade: May place.

4th Race at 3.40 p.m.

Great Scot Handicap 1,000m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) � Indian jockeys only
W ----- Declarationoflove [R. Alford] Withdrawn 60.0 -
2 4240 Wakamba Warrior [Mujeeb] F. A. Khan 59.5 2
3 0300 Ardon [Daniel] Md Yasin 58.5 4
4 2002 Lively Project [Daniel] Merchant 58.5 5
5 - - 14 Arbello [Mujeeb] S. Domingo 54.0 3
6 0400 Schumacher [Daniel] Md Yacoob 53.0 1

1. Wakamba Warrior (2) 2. Lively Project (4) 3. Arbello (5)

Wakamba Warrior: A speedy customer. May walk away with the scurry Lively Project: Was outclassed by Software. May make amends. Arbello: May place.

5th Race at 4.10 p.m.

Heiress Handicap 1,200m (Cl V; Rt. 18 below) � Indian jockeys only
1 1040 Uprising [Karki] Amjad K. 60.0 1
2 0004 Asprey [Rodrigues] M. Maseyk 57.0 3
3 3002 Heaven�s Blessing [Bath] Md Islam 54.5 7
4 3022 Kyalami [R. Alford] I. Chisty 54.0 2
5 0020 Scenic Song [Mujeeb] A. P. Singh 54.0 4
6 0000 Iron Warrior [Rodrigues] Surjeet S. 52.5 6
7 2223 Calculus [Stephens] F. A. Khan 51.5 5

1. Scenic Song (5) 2. Kyalami (4) 3. Heaven�s Blessing (3)

Scenic Song: Ignore her last run. May surprise over the shorter trip. Kyalami: Lost a close tussle. May fight the issue out again. Heaven�s Blessing: May upset.

6th Race at 4.40 p.m.

Selector Handicap 1,200m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) � Indian jockeys only
1 1000 Sergeant Slipper [Daniel] Upadhya 61.0 7
2 2002 Rare Gold [Mujeeb] C. Alford 59.5 2
3 - 200 Timbavati [Karki] P. Alford 58.5 5
4 1200 Bul Bul [Javed] Engineer 55.0 1
5 3000 Simply Monarch [Daniel] Merchant 52.0 4
6 3001 Glass Slipper [Stephens] Surjeet S. 51.5 3
7 0000 Soviet Dance [Daniel] S. Salam 49.5 6

1. Rare Gold(2) 2. Bul Bul (4) 3.Timbavati (3)

Rare Gold: Was outclassed by a youngster. May do better against the present lot. Bul Bul: Merits regard on her looks and workouts. Timbavati: Upset, if any.

Day�s Best: Argolis

Double: Allaying & Rare Gold

Calcutta, Aug. 8: 
Alternator and Ardency worked well today morning.

Outer sand track

1,000m: Lucifer (Upadhya) in 1-19s; (400m) 31s. Easy.

800m: Alternator (C. Alford) and Lockers Park (Rabani) in 57; (400m) 28s. Former far better. Endless Surprise (Islam) in 59s; (400m) 29s. Fit. Adams Thunder (G. Singh) in 59s; (400m) 29s. Note.

Sand track

800m: Ardency (C. Alford) and Annotate (Rabani) in 57s; (400m) 28s. Level. Prince of Fashion (Rutherford) in 55s; (400m) 25s. Fit. Cool Quest (I. Chisty) in 57s; (400m) 27s. Lawyer�s Love (Tamang) in 1-1s; (400m) 28s. Fit. Comedy of Errors (I. Chisty) in 1-2s; (400m) 27s. Positive Thinker (G. Singh) in 1-0s; (400m) 29s.    


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