|S P O R T||
Tuesday, January 19, 1999
|India aim to end tour on winning
CHRISTCHURCH, Jan 18 India, on its final halt of the Kiwi tour, is likely to retain the winning combination of the Basin Reserve triumph and close the away series on a winning note at the Jade Stadium, formerly known as Lancaster Park, here tomorrow.
Team needs "fine tuning"
CHRISTCHURCH, (New Zealand), Jan 18 Former Australian cricket captain Bob Simpson, now a consultant coach to the Indian team, has said that with some "fine tuning", India should be ready for the next World Cup in May.
Fifth successive defeat
CENTURION, (South Africa), Jan 18 South Africa completed their 5-0 Test humiliation of the once mighty West Indies today.
Corretja, Williams hang on
India aim to end tour on winning note
CHRISTCHURCH, Jan 18 (PTI) India, on its final halt of the Kiwi tour, is likely to retain the winning combination of the Basin Reserve triumph and close the away series on a winning note at the Jade Stadium, formerly known as Lancaster Park, here tomorrow.
On the eve of the concluding day-nighter, India, leading 2-1 in the five-match series, resolved to let their skills do the talking even as they preforced a "regret" from the acerbic New Zealand coach Steve Rixon and the local media, which published misleading reports about senior Indian players not wanting to play the forthcoming home tour against Pakistan.
Kiwi team manager John Graham today apologised to the Indian camp and said Rixon regretted having made the comment that the visitors wanting to take a flight back home.
Rixon himself said at a
press conference that he was misinterpreted. "I only
said the tour is finishing and the Indians must be
looking to go back home".
The venue should also prove lucky for the Indians. New Zealand have lost five successive matches at this site since 1996-97. They even went down tamely to Zimbabwe last season and the memories of the defeat still haunt the Kiwis.
"I wonder what has to be done to win in Christchurch. It doesnt look that good on paper but Im sure we can turn the things around," said Rixon.
The wicket at Jade Stadium is traditionally known to favour seamers early on and then flatten out to be a batting beauty. Both teams had a workout in the morning and gave themselves an evening off.
Hyderabad batsman V.V.S. Laxman left for home this morning since he has been named the captain of India A side to play the tour-opener against Pakistan on January 23.
For Laxman, this tour offered little opportunity, but in the couple of innings he was afforded, Laxman left no one in doubt about his ability.
Alongwith Laxman, Sunil Joshi, Debashish Mohanty and lately Hrishikesh Kanitkar have had little role to play in the middle as the Indians were wary of experiments with the series being very tight.
A positive sign for India has been that, it as a team scored convincing victories despite Sachin Tendulkar failing to add as many runs as expected from him.
And, the newly-confident Rahul Dravid has remained a pillar of strength stroking the ball well in the shorter form of the game also. The stylish Karnataka batsman, easily the man of the tour, has looked infallible after taking on the task of shouldering responsibility all through the series.
The memorable Auckland win, where most of the Indian players regained their form, should spur the visitors to go for the kill tomorrow.
If Azhars luck with the toss holds good he has won six of the seven tosses on this tour the Indians would have won half the battle then.
Kiwis, on the other hand, are worried on injury counts. Captain Stephen Fleming has been ruled out of this series and left-arm pace bowler Geoff Allott is still to recover from hamstring strain and speedster Simon Doull, from time to time, suffers from exhaustion and stomach problems.
Still, stand-in captain Dion Nash was upbeat about his teams prospects. "I am really looking forward to tomorrows game. I want to finish the series as we started it on a winning note".
Harris, a mercurial pinch hitter, has had problems with his usual form in this series after being asked to go in at number eight. But, coach Rixon ruled out possibility of Harris being promoted in the order despite a feeling in the camp that his talent was being wasted at number eight.
"Coming down in the
order and looking to capitalise in the final 10 overs,
Harris probably has no rival in the world," Rixon
said justifying his decision to keep the batsman in that
position. "We do not intend to change it," he
Team needs "fine tuning"
CHRISTCHURCH, (New Zealand), Jan 18 (UNI) Former Australian cricket captain Bob Simpson, now a consultant coach to the Indian team, has said that with some "fine tuning", India should be ready for the next World Cup in May.
Simpson, who led Australia in the 1967-68 and 1977-78 Test series against India , referring to the Indian team as "we" said that "provided we improve our fielding and put a little variety into bowling, we have an excellent chance to win. The batting is very capable . The other strong point is that some of the batsmen are also very good bowlers in one-day cricket. Once we get clever about how to use these batsmen-bowlers, it is going to be very good for us."
He said the seventh World Cup competition would be the most open ever." No country, you can say, is a clear favourite. No one is dominating . South Africa have done well over the years but seem to falter in the final stages," he remarked.
He said that Australians were not winning a large percentage of their games and added that India had a good record to attract attention. "However, the side that plays the most consistent cricket will win the cup," he said.
"Who can rule out Pakistan. They have the most talented side in world cricket. But they will have to get their act together, which is what they have not done," he added.
Regarding the Indian fielding, Simpson said: "Fielding is one area where we will have to improve dramatically. This can be done, and I say this with confidence because during practice, they (team members) are okay most of the time. It is only a matter of concentration. I keep emphasising during my talk with the boys that all it takes is to concentrate for merely two seconds on every ball. There is no reason why anybody cannot concentrate for that length of time".
"I think that sometimes they are scared of making mistakes, which is why they dont come out and attack the ball enough. They tend to run around the ball. So were working on the fact that they have to get in a straight line with the ball and if they even then misfield, so be it," he said.
"So, if they get to the ball, it lessens the chance for the batsmen to attempt a second run. But if they go on circling the ball, its two runs every time. What is needed is more energy, more concentration," Simpson said.
"The fitness level of the team is not bad. Running is another area that needs improving. We are seriously looking at the technique of running".
Fifth successive defeat for WI
CENTURION, (South Africa), Jan 18 (Reuters) South Africa completed their 5-0 Test humiliation of the once mighty West Indies today.
Brian Lara and his demoralised team suffered their fifth successive five-day defeat their first in 70 years of international cricket by a massive 351 runs.
They were never in the hunt to reverse the slide as South Africas batting decimated their once-feared attack and set a virtually impossible winning target of 569.
Even though master fast bowler Allan Donald was absent injured, West Indies fell for 217, an embarrassing end to their first Test series in the republic.
Left-arm wrist spinner Paul Adams did a splendid job in Donalds absence claiming four for 64. Only Ridley Jacobs seemed able to stop the rot and made the top score of 78.
The West Indies resumed on 18 for one and were on the slide by lunch, taken at 85 for three. Shivnarine Chanderpauls 43 was their best top-order effort.
Lara was dismissed for 14 in the second over after the break and he was soon followed by Carl Hooper, another veteran of the teams past achievements.
Jacobs managed to stay firm and completed his second half-century of the series as the tourists reached 216 for eight at tea. He was finally caught behind off Jacques Kallis in the first over after tea for his highest test score.
He batted 113 minutes, faced 92 balls and struck 14 fours and a six. Adams then bowled Courtney Walsh for a duck to end the one-sided series and spark a post-mortem back in the Caribbean.
Corretja, Williams hang on
MELBOURNE, Jan 18 (Reuters) Romanias Irina Spirlea and big-serving Croat Goran Ivanisevic became the first two major casualties of the Australian Open today, and other big-name seeds struggled to survive the opening day.
Ivanisevic and Spirlea followed each other out of the tournament in the space of an hour Ivanisevic without even hitting a ball while mens second seed Alex Corretja and womens fifth seed Venus Williams just clung on.
Spirlea, the 13th seed, was beaten in her first round match 7-5, 6-4 by 1996 open finalist Anke Huber in just 72 minutes on showcourt one at Melbourne Park.
Ivanisevic, the 11th seed, pulled out with acute back pain caused by inflammation and disc degeneration to continue a Grand Slam jinx stretching back to 1988.
Corretja almost became the biggest loser on the opening day of the tournament, which is already without world number one Pete Sampras, resting at home in the USA, and is shaping up as the most "open open" in many years.
The Spanish world number three was taken to five tough sets by Asian wildcard Takao Suzuki of Japan on the opening match on the centre court. He won 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.
Williams continued the nail-biting trend, fighting back from what appeared to be certain oblivion to down little-known Croat Silvija Talaja 3-6, 6-3. 9-7.
Womens number one Lindsay Davenport and mens third seed Pat Rafter enjoyed easy first-up wins. Davenport beat Spains Gala Leon Garcia 6-2, 6-2 while Rafter eliminated Germanys Oliver Gross 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 despite losing his first two service games.
Huber, beaten in the 1996 final by Monica Seles, is ranked 18th in the world and the 24-year-old called on all her experience to produce a solid game based on strong first serve and groundstrokes against an error-prone Spirlea.
Spirlea was a quarter-finalist in Melbourne two years ago but has fallen to dangerous non-seeds since then. She lost in the first round last year to Serena Williams.
Ivanisevic, who has never made it past the quarter-finals in Melbourne, was forced out after aggravating his back injury in a warm-up tournament last week.
The Croatian showman is a former world number two but has never been able to claim an all-important Grand Slam title, finishing as Wimbledon runner-up three times, to Pete Sampras at Wimbledon last year and in 1994 and to Andre Agassi in 1992
Ivanisevic, trying hard to retain his sense of humour after the disappointment, faced a long and painful flight home later today after yet another Grand Slam washout. He will be out of tennis for at least two weeks and faces intensive therapy.
Ivanisevic will be missed by the tournament as much for his erratic brilliance as for the sardonic humour that has made him one of the biggest draws of professional tennis.
Ivanisevic, due to have played Russias Andrei Cherkasov later today, was to be replaced by German Bernd Karbacher.
Suzuki, ranked just 116 in the world, had Corretja reeling with a stunning display of aggression before the Spanish baseliner came out on top in a crucial fourth set tie-break.
Corretja cruised through the final set for a 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 win to remain on course to take Samprass number one ranking if he makes the semifinals.
Suzuki, 22, in contrast, has only recently graduated to the main tour from challenger tournaments.
Venus Williams produced one of her worst performances of recent memory and flirted with disaster against the Croatian Talaja before triumphing 3-6, 6-3, 9-7.
The 18-year-old Americans timing deserted her early as Talaja, ranked 82nd in the world, matched her power game.
Williams wasted two match points at 7-6 up in a tightly-fought third set but finally secured the match and a second round berth when Talaja slammed a forehand into the net.
Britains Tim Henman, the sixth seed, exorcised the demons of a first round loss last year, downing Moroccos Karim Alami 6-3, 6-2, 6-1.
The first days play brought the focus back onto tennis itself after a lead-up overshadowed by the news that defending mens champion Petr Korda had tested positive for a banned steroid at Wimbledon.
Anand registers superb win
WIJK AAN ZEE (Holland) Jan 18 (PTI) Indias Vishwanathan Anand gave world number one Garry Kasparov enough to worry about on the rest day today by winning his second consecutive game and on the way bagging 500 guilders for the best game of the day, also for the second day running, in the 61st Hoogovens International Grandmasters Chess Tournament.
Defending champion Anand scored a fine positional win over Jeroen Piket of Holland in a ruy lopez game yesterday and grabbed half-a-point lead over four players including PCA world champion Kasparov.
(1.5), who was held by Vasily Ivanchuk in the first
round, bounced back with a win over Dutchman Loek Van
Wely to remain in second place along with Vladimir
Kramnik, Alexi Shirov and Veselin Topalov.
Anand, who capped a brilliant season last year by bagging the coveted chess Oscar, made good use of the early advantage. A temporary piece sacrifice enabled Anand to strengthen his position and by the end game, Piket barely managed to get his 40 moves inside two hours and was two pawns down. He resigned on the 41st move.
Kasparov, playing with white pieces, had a tougher job against Van Wely. In a sicilian-sveshnikov game, Kasparov did not have much advantage till the 24th move.
Van Wely made a weak 26th move which tilted the scales decisively and Kasparov got his first win of the tournament in 44 moves.
Vladimir Kramnik played a novelty on the seventh move in a nimzo Indian attack as once again white emerged winner. He beat Alex Yermolinsky of the USA in 40 moves.
Spains Shirov, who is still upset at not being able to get a shot at Kasparov in their proposed world title match, picked up a point after working his way with black pieces to a better ending against Bosnias Ivan Sokolov, who recently won the Dutch title.
Sokolov, who had also won the hastings title, was upset at the loss as he felt that he had atleast a draw which he overlooked. The gruenfeld Indian game went to 52 moves with Shirov winning with black.
Jan Timman recovered from his blunder against Topalov on the first day by beating fellow Dutchman Dimitri Reinderman in a marathon 70-move battle in a sicilian game.
Timman could actually have won the game earlier but he simply meandered with some weak moves.
In two other sicilian games Vassily Ivanchuk drew with Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Peter Svidler split the point with Veselin Topalov.
JCT clash with Agragami today
LUDHIANA, Jan 18 Big-time football is all set to return to this industrial city as JCT Phagwara lock horns with debutants Tollygunge Agragami, Calcutta, in group 'A' of the third National Football League at Guru Nanak Stadium here tomorrow.
For JCT this will be the second home tie in the current league after they launched their campaign with the lung opener against defending champions Mohun Bagan at Delhi's Ambedkar Stadium on January 5.
Tollygunge Agragami, winners of the "B' division last season by virtue of which they gained entry into the national league, have made an impressive debut. In the three matches that they have played so far, they have garnered full points in two while the third tie against Churchill Brothers at Calcutta was drawn. The teams that Tollygunge have beaten include Air-India (3-0) and Dempo (1-0).
However, on the eve of their first away match, veteran coach Amal Dutta was a worried man. Star striker Roshan Pereira of Sri Lanka will be out of action tomorrow as he sustained a head injury in the match against Dempo at Calcutta a few days back. Roshan Pereira in fact was the livewire of the Tollygunge attack in all the previous encounters. In the opening tie against Air-India, he alone scored two goals. In Pereira's absence striker Nwakanma Chibuzor, formerly of Dempo, will be shouldering added responsibility.
JCT, who have also played three matches so far, including two away matches, have collected four points from one victory and a draw. After holding a strong Mohun Bagan goal-less in the inaugural tie, JCT lost to Dempo 1-2 in their first away match at Margo on January 9. However, in their second away match against Air-India, they collected full points with a 3-2 verdict.
In the absence of Roshan Pereira, Tollygunge Agragami's attack is likely to lose sting. Nevertheless, Chibuzor along with right winger Gourab Sengupta, Ajay Singh and Pradyut Roy may yet give the JCT defence a harrowing time. After all, the team is experimenting with Amal Dutta's much publicised "box system".
In the midfield, Tollygunge have a dependable combination comprising Diswarup Basu, skipper Chandan Das, Felix Abayomi and Bastab Roy, while Bisu is expected to take the major load in the half-line, the sturdy Felix, besides controlling the game in the midfield, may also move upfront to assist the forwards.
In defence, Tollygunge will be relying on Nigerian Awoyemi Isiaka who plays as right back and Srikrishna Ghosh, the Mohun Bagan discard, in the left back position. Sumit Mukherjee, with rich experience as a goalkeeper with Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, will be the custodian.
Unlike Tollygunge, JCT will be relying purely on local talent. The Hardeep trio Sangha, Saini and Gill is expected to lead the attack with Hardeep Saini playing as a withdrawn forward. Hardeep Saini in fact is a fine midfielder and was incidentally adjudged the best player in the Rovers Cup one season back.
Skipper Harjinder may chip in as a schemer. Assisting Sangha and Gill in all likelihood will be the experienced Ram Pal. Sukhjit and Surjit also stand a good chance of lending support to the attack.
In the midfield, Tata Football Academy trainee Dipankar Roy will assist Hardeep Saini while the defence will be manned by the experienced Tarsem Lal and Deepak Mondal also of the TFA.
Virender Singh, as usual, will be the first-choice goalkeeper. In the opening match against Mohun Bagan, Virender stopped Chima Okerie's spot kick to deny the Calcutta outfit a sure goal.
Meanwhile, the two teams had a workout at the stadium this morning. While Tollygunge have put up at a local hotel, JCT will be arriving from Phagwara tomorrow for the match which will kick off at 2.30 p.m.
Tollygunge coach Amal Dutta was all praise for the ground and the stadium.
Mohun Bagan held 1-1 by Dempo
CALCUTTA, Jan 18 (PTI) Defending champions Mohun Bagan played their hearts out, but failed to reverse their sliding fortunes as they battled to a 1-1 draw against Dempo in a violence-marred group-A match of the third national football league at the Salt Lake Stadium here today.
The local giants, struggling to find peak form in the championship so far, drew first blood early in the opening session through their star striker I.M. Vijayan, but the Goans restored parity soon after the interval with Francis Silveira finding the target.
With the score tied at 1-1, both the teams played a fast game, but could not break the deadlock in a match marred by frayed tempers and crowd violence.
Referee Krishna Avatar of Delhi disallowed a Chima Okerie goal in the dying minutes of the contest, which triggered off violent scenes in the galleries, forcing policemen to resort to lathi charge.
Incensed by the referees decision, Mohun Bagan supporters hurled brickbats on the field soon after the game ended. The violence spilled onto the roads as irate supporters threw brickbats on passing vehicles outside the stadium.
Desperately needing a win to improve their position in the points table, the home team turned on the heat straightaway with a flurry of attacks and shot into the lead in the 13th minute, when Vijayan placed the ball in capitalising on a defensive lapse.
The Goans played with renewed vigour in the second half and found the equaliser in the 51st minute when striker Francis Silveira slammed the ball in from inside the box.
Dempo looked more organised in the second session as they kept putting the Bagan defence under pressure by breaking through time and again, but lacked the finishing touch to pose much threat.
The home team could have won the match had their forwards not frittered away at least three easy scoring opportunities, with the off-colour Chima Okerie being the offender on two occasions.
Mohun Bagan came close to scoring as early as the fifth minute of the contest but R.P. Singh, fed by a measured cross by Paite, volleyed the ball straight to Dempo custodian Vikrant Sharma who managed to fist it away.
The lethal duo of Chima and Vijayan were again far from impressive while the Mohun Bagan defence also appeared a little disorganised, particularly in the second half.
With this draw, Mohun Bagan have six points to their credit from four matches while Dempo have five points from four matches.
Churchill rout AI
MARGAO: Churchill Brothers outplayed Air-India, Mumbai, 5-1 to notch up their first win in four matches in a group "A" tic here.
The home team took the lead in the 38th minute, after missing three easy chances, through new recruit Jose Martins.
They consolidated the lead in the 42nd minute through striker Philip Mensah to lead 2-0 at half time.
While Philip Mensah increased the lead in the 52nd minute, substitute Cyril Baretto who came in place of injured Jose Martin in the second half dealt the killer blow by scoring two goals in the 72nd and 88th minutes.
Air Indias Taposh Ghosh reduced the defeat margin by a solitary goal in the injury time through a penalty.
Churchill Brothers who drew their earlier three matches have six points from this win and moved to the second spot along with Mohun Bagan who also have six points from the drawn match against Dempo today from a total of four matches.
Tollygunge which, has seven points from three matches heads the table in group "A".
Air-India were reduced to 10 men in the 42nd minute when defender Ajay Acharya got his second booking when he brought down Philip Mensah into the box. The resultant penalty was converted by Mensah himself. Earlier, Ajay was shown the yellow card for a foul on Somatai Shaiza.
Jeev finishes joint third
JOHANNESBURG, Jan 18 (PTI) Indias ace professional golfer Jeev Milkha Singh fired a two-under par 70 to finish joint third in the season-opener Alfred Dunhil PGA Championship at the Houghton Golf Course here last night.
Jeev, the only Indian to qualify for the European PGA tour, had rounds of 73, 69 and 68 for an aggregate of 8-under 280 seven strokes adrift of winner Ernie Els of South Africa in his best finish on European PGA after the eighth place he shared in National Car Rental English open last year.
Els finished 15-under after notching up scores of 67, 69. 69 and 69 in four rounds. Richard Kaplan completed a grand double for South Africa by taking the second spot with an 11-under 277.
The Chandigarh-born Jeev, who last played in here in 1993 after just turning professional, shared the third position with another South African David Frost, Stephen Leaney (Aus) and Steve Webster (Eng).
Jeev could have finished higher up but a number of birdie shots just failed to drop in. Singh finished three birdies in the final round. On the 16th, Singh was on the green for an eagle, but his attempt narrowly missed the cup by a few centimetres.
Looking back, Jeev will rue the finish he had on first day when he made a hat-trick of bogies from the 16th onwards.
Leander Paes beaten in first round
MELBOURNE, Jan 18 (PTI) Playing his first singles match after an injury-forced lay off, Indias Davis Cup star Leander Paes crashed out of the Australian Open tennis championship at Melbourne today, losing in straight sets to Italian Davide Sanguinetti.
The world number 92, who missed the Bangkok Asian Games where he was the favourite for both singles and doubles title, faded out 6-4 6-4 6-1 to the dangerous Italian.
Paes had a very good season in 1998 when he won his first ATP singles title at the Hall of Fame, Newport, and surged to 75th position in rankings after accounting for world number one Pete Sampras the biggest scalp in his career thus far in a Super Nine Tournament at New Haven (USA).
The Indian star had to pull out of the season-end doubles finale at Hartford after aggravating a bone spur injury in his left leg.
The rust showed when he and partner Mahesh Bhupathi crashed out of the Qatar Open in the quarter-finals earlier this month.
Paes-Bhupathi, who reached the semifinals last year, will be the favourites for the doubles title in the absence of the crack Dutch combination of Jacco Eltingh and Paul Haarhuis, who ended their partnership after Eltingh retired from the game.
The world number two Indian duo will have the fading tandem of Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge as main rivals.
Panjab University team suspended
TIRUPATI, Jan 18 (UNI) Punjabi (Patiala) will take on Choudhary Charan Singh (Meerut) and Bangalore will meet Guru Nanak Dev in the semifinals of the All-India inter-zone Inter Varsity Hockey Championship for men.
In the matches yesterday, Panjab drew with S.V. University goalless, CCS, Meerut beat Ranchi 1-0 and Guru Nanak Dev University got the better of Sambalpur 2-1.
The Bangalore-Panjab (Chandigarh) match ended in a free for all nine minutes before time, as the Panjab players infuriated by an infringement of a Bangalore player, went on attacking their rivals. The officials and organisers entered the field to pacify them. The police was then called to restore order.
Based on the report of the match officials, the Panjab team was suspended and Bangalore were awarded full points. Panjab were leading 2-0 when the incident took place.
Meanwhile, the only other Mumbai team left in the Pool "B" after the suspension of Pandit Ravishankar University earlier, gave a written protest to the Organising Committee for awarding the match to Bangalore.
Mumbai had played a 2-2 draw with Bangalore and if the Bangalore-Panjab match was nullified, both Mumbai and Bangalore would have one point each with equal number of goals for and against which would necessitate some sort of tie-breaker to decide the pool winners. However, the organising committee turned down their protest.
In other matches of the day, LNIPE, Gwalior defeated Kasi Vidyapeeth 4-2, Jiwaji, Gwalior beat Madras 1-0 and Barkatullah defeated Madurai-Kamaraj 2-1.
Bhavana is judo champ again
BANGALORE, Jan 18 (UNI) Bhavana Bharathi of Delhi became the national champion for the fourth year in succession, winning gold in the women's under 57 kg category in the National Judo Championship held at Koramangala indoor stadium here yesterday.
The Central Industrial Security Force (CISR) which had won four of the six gold medals on Saturday added two more to their kitty, with Sapna Chauhan (48 kg women) and Jagbir Singh Tokas (66 kg men) winning the gold medals.
The other gold winners of the day were Bojeshwari Devi of the Indian Airlines (52 kg women), Latish Rai of Punjab (60 kg men) and Najib Mirza Aga of Karnataka (73 kg men).
Bhavana, an employee of the Delhi Administration, needed just 30 seconds to outclass her opponent Sapna Chanu of Maharashtra with a thud, using an arm lock. Jyotinder Kaur of the CIAF and Sangeeta Sharma of Madhya Pradesh bagged the bronze medals.
In the most closely fought final, Najib, the BSF inspector who represented Karnataka, won on referees decision over Vinod Gill of the CISF. After a fiercely fought battle, both fighters, in receipt of a yuko penalty point each, were tied but Najib who was more aggressive of the two finalists won the nod of the referee's in the end to emerge winner.
Sapna Chauhan, who had to be content with the silver in last year's nationals, had her most memorable moment yesterday. The 18-year-old girl from Delhi won over fighting Nimratha of Punjab. Sumedha Ghosh of West Bengal and Bharati Dogra of Chandigarh won the bronze medals.
Kiwi coach regrets remark
CHRISTCHURCH, Jan 18 (Reuters) New Zealand cricket coach Steve Rixon said today that he regretted making an offensive remark about the Indian team last week, but added that he had been misunderstood.
Last week Rixon had said: "The Indians look like they've got one thing on their mind... and that's the flight home."
India went on to score an emphatic win in the fourth international at Auckland to go 2-1 up in the series.
Speaking today, a day before the fifth and final one-day international, the Australian Rixon said: "I truly regret having said it. But I was misunderstood. Every team during the last days of a tour looks forward to going home."
Rixon's Indian counterpart, the mild-mannered Anshuman Gaekwad said: "At the end of the day, actions speak louder than words. Steve should stick to talking about his own team not ours."
Rixon had offended the Indians once before during the tour on the eve of the first Test by saying: "You cannot win Test matches sitting in the dressing room."
That was when the Indians declined to take the option of playing under lights during the series when natural light was poor.
The Indian team then had not lodged an official complaint but their manager. Saif Drabu, told New Zealand Cricket incorporated that they were displeased by Rixon's remark.
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