SPORT TRIBUNE Saturday, June 10, 2000, Chandigarh, India
What purpose did Asia Cup serve?
By Abhijit Chatterjee

THE Indian team, which made an ignominious exit from this year’s edition of the Asia Cup, would like to forget the matches played at the Bangabandhu Stadium in Dhaka like a bad dream. Not only did they lose to the two better teams in the continent — Sri Lanka and Pakistan — by huge margins but they also made heavy weather of their solitary win over hosts Bangladesh.

Pak overcome Asia Cup jinx
By Gopal Sharma
akistan finally overcame the Asia Cup jinx. Giving a highly professional performance the charged-up Pakistan team defeated Sri Lanka in the final to lay their hands on glittering trophy. For a team as talented as Pakistan and having a fair sprinkling of stars in their ranks, the maiden title triumph looks highly surprising. India have clinched Asia Cup four times while Sri Lanka have been champions twice.

by K.R. Wadhwaney
Good response to training scheme
he ‘Chivas Regal Nite’ may have been a flop for a number of reasons, but the annual junior training programme at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) course has been a grand success.




What purpose did Asia Cup serve?
By Abhijit Chatterjee

THE Indian team, which made an ignominious exit from this year’s edition of the Asia Cup, would like to forget the matches played at the Bangabandhu Stadium in Dhaka like a bad dream. Not only did they lose to the two better teams in the continent — Sri Lanka and Pakistan — by huge margins but they also made heavy weather of their solitary win over hosts Bangladesh. And as some observers of the game said even the victory against Bangladesh would have been difficult if India did not have Saurav Ganguly and, of course, Sachin Tendulkar in its ranks. ‘‘Leave out these two players and India might have lost to the hosts,’’ was the whisper making the rounds. To this list one would like to add the name of Anil Kumble because without him the Indian bowling would have become a big zero.

Coming as it were immediately after the issue of match-fixing had dominated the international cricket scene ever since it was revealed that Hansie Cronje, the deposed captain of the South African team who led the squad in the last series played by India at home, had accepted money from a bookie for throwing away the one-day series, the Indian players were obviously in no mid to play serious cricket. To add to this was the sultry weather at Dhaka at this time of the year with the threat of dehydration looming large. In fact it might have done Indian cricket a world of good if the Board of Control for Cricket in India had accepted Kapil Dev’s suggestion of skipping the Asia Cup until the issue of match-fixing plaguing Indian and international cricket had been solved. But then would the Bangladesh Cricket Board authorities have agreed to conduct the tournament without India’s participation? Would not have Mr Jagmohan Dalmiya’s efforts to globalise cricket suffered a jolt?

To add to the match-fixing allegations flying thick and fast with players and board officials taking clear sides, was the revelations by Manoj Prabhakar that it was Kapil Dev, the current coach of the Indian cricket team, who had offered him money to play ‘‘below par’’ in the Singer series in Sri Lanka way back in 1994 which had sent Indian cricket into a tizzy. Why Manoj kept quiet for such a long time is yet another of those mysteries which have been surfacing ever since the issue of match-fixing came to the fore. That Kapil Dev in spite of the tremendous mental and psychological pressure on him did accompany the squad to Dhaka did not prove to be of great help because after all the squad not only showed a total lack of confidence, may be because of the happenings back home, but also the determination to fight. And one remembers that in the match against Pakistan the Indians found it difficult to find eleven fit players for the game, according to reports from Dhaka.

Prior to the team’s departure to Dhaka after an insipid camp at Pune it was Kapil Dev who had said that ‘‘we shall fight, we shall fight very hard and we will play to win.’’ And for all this rhetoric India had just one win under the belt, against Bangladesh whose fame in international cricket has come from that win against Pakistan in the last World Cup. But again the question which lingers here is: did that win come clean?

If the Indian batting, barring skipper Saurav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar, was poor with players like Rahul Dravid and Mohammad Azharuddin just going through their motions, it was the bowling which was a complete failure. Javagal Srinath might have wanted to rest but the way youngsters like Amit Bhandari or even T. Kumaran bowled one was left wondering why did the selectors keep out Venkatesh Prasad out of the squad. The one bowler who tried to make the best of the bad job was Ajit Agarkar who has the necessary aggression in him to make a mark in international cricket. But the same cannot be said of Amit Bhandari, who looked all at sea, specially in the match against Pakistan. It is a pity that Amit had to learn it the hard way that there is a lot of gap between India’s domestic cricket and the international arena. And for the record books Amit Bhandari and Kumaran conceded a total of 165 runs against Pakistan with Kumaran creating the dubious record of giving away 86 runs in his 10-over spell against Pakistan, even worse that Karsan Gavri’s effort of 71 off 11 overs in the 1975 World Cup, a time when Indian were learning the art of playing one-day cricket. But the same excuse cannot be given today.

The inclusion and subsequent dropping of Tamil Nadu’s Hemang Badani from the playing eleven is yet another example of the way Indian cricket works. Badani got his break against Bangladesh, performed fairly well for a debutant and then was sidelined for the match against Pakistan. It was the match against Pakistan which would have proved his calibre and the time was ripe for the tour selection committee to throw him into the deep end of the pool if the future of Indian cricket is to be secured. With players like Mohammad Azharuddin, who showed a strange lack if application in all the matches India played in the tournament getting on in years, the time is not far when somebody else will have to fill the number four slot in the batting line-up. And what better place than the cauldron of the Bangabandhu Stadium. Similarly, Nikhil Chopra seems to be coming in and going out of team for reason which are difficult to explain.

The tournament has unfortunately exposed Kapil’s shortcomings as a coach. He was a fine cricketer but coaching is definitely not his cup of tea. The tour Down Under was a total disaster and then at home India lost a home Test series after 14 years, to South Africa. The hosts, however, won the one-day series which followed, but then the issue of match-fixing surfaced. Again India lost at Sharjah and this was followed by the Dhaka defeats. May be it is time for the board to have a deep look at the cricket manager’s job although in the first instance Kapil was given the job for an unprecedented two years.

Kapil probably also erred in the team selection in Dhaka. Otherwise how could the Indian team play against Sri Lanka with Rahul Dravid behind the stumps when a regular wicketkeeper —Nayan Mongia —had been rushed to join the team in place of the injured Saba Karim. Just imagine India’s plight were Dravid was to be injured keeping wickets. But such crazy experiments have been done by India also in the past. But why should Kapil allow such a thing to happen?

India’s next international assignment is at Toronto, against Pakistan. Maybe it is time for the Indian selectors to experiment with new players, read youngsters, because even with the seniors in the team the performance level is simply refusing to go up. 


Pak overcome Asia Cup jinx
By Gopal Sharma

Pakistan finally overcame the Asia Cup jinx. Giving a highly professional performance the charged-up Pakistan team defeated Sri Lanka in the final to lay their hands on glittering trophy. For a team as talented as Pakistan and having a fair sprinkling of stars in their ranks, the maiden title triumph looks highly surprising. India have clinched Asia Cup four times while Sri Lanka have been champions twice.

In fact, the Pakistan team has been raring to show their matter ever since they were tamed in their own backward by Sri Lanka just a couple of months ago. This year’s Sharjah tournament, the happy hunting ground for the Pakistanis over the years, saw them reassert their supremacy. Next, they won the triangular one-day series in the West Indies. Bangabandhu Stadium at Dhaka saw them a completely transformed lot. Reaching Dhaka straight after the arduous Caribbean tour, Pakistan immediately showed that they meant business, handing out a humiliating 233-run defeat to Bangladesh. This must have come as a rude shock to the aspirations of Bangladesh on the verge of getting Test status.

In their match against India they did not face any hiccups even though captain Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble had been summoned from England as they were playing county cricket there. Against Sri Lanka in the inconsequential match in which they preferred to rest their three key players the Pakistanis cruised to a smooth victory. In the final again they looked a superior team as compared to Sri Lanka and emerged worthy champions.

Pakistan owe its recent success to the emergence of talented youngsters who are motivated enough and have in them what it takes to succeed at the international level. Young Imran Nazir, an opening batsman, was not much successful in the junior World Cup in Sri Lanka. Deemed talented he was persisted with and the policy seems to be paying off.

Imran, who is just 18, showed during the recent tour of the West Indies that he was ready to fill the opener’s slot left vacant by former skipper Aamir Sohail when he scored a superb 131 in the second Test at Bridgetown facing the formidable pace attack which comprised the likes of Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and fast improving Reon King. Besides, Imran, who believes in taking the fight to the enemy camp with his bold strokeplay, has to his credit a couple of useful knocks in one-day matches.

Yousuf Youhana, another youngster, though a part of the squad for quite some time now, seems to have finally emerged out the shadows of the veterans Inzamam, Saeed Anwar and Ijaz Ahmed. He scored back-to-back centuries in second and third Tests in the West Indies. In Asia Cup also he contributed with bat virtually 6 emerge the ‘Player of the Tournament’. Younis Khan, tipped to replace veteran Ijaz, has not disappointed in whatever opportunities he has got so far.

Shoaib Akhtar, the quickest bowler ever after Australian Jeff Thomson, has already dished out sensational performances with the ball and, if fit, is a proven match-winner. The spectacle of Shoaib rattling the timbre of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar off successive deliveries after he was inducted into the Chennai Test in place of Waqar Younis will linger in the memory of cricket enthusiasts for long.

Perhaps the best thing to happen to the Pakistan cricket is the availability of Azhar Mahmood and Abdul Razzak, the two quality all-rounders, who provide so much flexibility to the squad. Besides being decent batsmen having the ability to use the long handle they are more than handy bowlers. Razzak seemed to enjoy full confidence of the then skipper Wasim Akram, who sent in to bat at No 3 during the previous World Cup and the 20-year-old certainly did not disappoint.

In the recent series against West Indies Razzak along with Inzamam emerged the saviour in the first Test when he was involved in 205-run partnership for the sixth wicket after Pakistan were in dire straits at 39 for five. Razzak was unlucky to miss his maiden Test century — he was out for 87 — while Inzamam went on to score 135. In the second Test also Razzak again looked in fine nick scoring 72. In bowling Razzak has proved to be nemesis of Tendulkar quite a number of times. Azhar Mahmood is already an established member in the side.

In the Asia Cup Pakistan were without the services of Shoaib Akhtar, Saqlain Mushtaq and Waqar Younis, all proven match-winners, and still did not face any difficulty in winning the title. Waqar Younis, in the recent Sharjah tournament was adjudged the ‘Player of the Tournament’. Saqlain arguably is the best off-spinner of the time. No other international team can boast of the similar riches.

The plight of India without Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad in Dhaka is there for all to see. The West Indians even after trying so many new faces have remained unable to find new ball bowlers ready to take the baton from Ambrose and Walsh. Even Australia, if they drop, say Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne together, can not boast to retain same penetration in their bowling attack. Nor can South Africa afford to exclude Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock in the same match and hope to win that easily.

Only Pakistan having a vast reservoir of quality youngsters willing to take the load can afford to drop a couple of frontline bowlers for the same match and still emerge triumphant. Not much has been heard of Mohammed Zahid, who took 11 wickets in his debut match against New Zealand. Zahid at that time was touted genuinely quick. It is the availability of the promising younsters like Razzak, Azhar, Afridi, Youhana and Imran Nazir which has made Pakistan such a formidable opposition and has provided it the right nucleus to be true world-beaters.


by K.R. Wadhwaney
Good response to training scheme

The ‘Chivas Regal Nite’ may have been a flop for a number of reasons, but the annual junior training programme at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) course has been a grand success.

The enthusiasm for golf has been unprecedented. This is indicative enough from applications for programme. The game has gained in popularity in the Capital.

The organisers had planned to restrict the entries to 170 so that every trainee was provided ‘personal attention’ during the short period of six weeks. But more than the expected number of trainees, boys and girls, turned up. Every parent was keen that his/her child should be chosen for training. Eventually, the organisers had to relax the rules and admit 207 in the programme.

Untill last year, the programme as in the hands of Ajay Gupta. But, this year, the authorities selected three coaches — Ali Sher, Romit Sen and Dighraj Singh.

With a view to widening the golf umbrella, the organisers felt it would be in the fitness of things to have about 50 boys and girls, who were “raw”. They all were taught the basics by the coaches and, in about a fortnight, the majority of them started hitting the ball well and true.

The remaining trainees, some of them extremely talented, are undergoing “advanced training”. The progress, according to the coaches, has been more than satisfactory. But analysts feel that follow-up training programme should be included to ensure more rewarding results. In addition to laying emphasis on technique, theory and practical, all trainees are subjected to rigorous physical workout. The better the physical condition, the better will be players’ mind to function. Yoga has also been included in the programme.


Shiv Kapur may have found Simi Mehra too hot a player to compete with, but he performed superbly at the Pan West Malaysia Open at Kajang recently. His performance has been considered a ‘very bright spot’ because he is the youngest and the first Indian to have claimed this prestigious title.

Except on the penultimate day when he shot two over 74, he was a consistent performer. His four-day card was 69, 69, 74 and 72. He and Ashok Kumar won the team title also in the first 36 holes.

Shiv Kapur, a promising youngster, has climbed the hard way. He had several failures last year, before steadying his game. He is no longer as tense and edgy as he was earlier, particularly last year, when he missed inning some competitions.

A good student of the game, Shiv believes in self-teaching although he had lessons from different coaches, including foreign coaches.

Now, like Vijay Merchant in cricket, decades ago, Shiv studies his videotapes and makes needed corrections in swing. He appears to attach a lot of importance to timing, rhythm and concentration.

Shiv plans to take part in the Purdue University (USA) competition in August. He will play many other competitions before crossing over to Puerto Rico and Hawai to train and participate in some competitions.

Shiv will endeavour to get chosen for the Eisenhower Cup in August. If he gets selected to represent his country, his college in Purdue will permit him to join it after the competition.


Windies’ victory remarkable

THE notion that Test cricket is boring was proved wrong when West Indies won the third and final Test against Pakistan and with it the series, by one wicket. The match had all the ingredients of drama, sensation, thrill, excitement and entertainment on an enthralling fifth day. The Windies had been reduced to 197 for nine, still needing 16 runs to win. At that juncture the match could have gone in favour of Pakistan at any moment. But skipper Jimmy Adams and veteran bowler Courtney Walsh hung on grimly to reach the target of 216. Adams, the hero of West Indies victory who scored an unbeaten 48, demonstrated perfect commitment, concentration, solid defence and impeccable technique and strategy as he withstood Pakistan’s bowling onslaught launched by Wasim Akram, who grabbed 11 wickets. he batted for more than five-and-a-half hours to help his side romp home victorious.

Tarsem S. Bumrah


Three cheers to Jimmy Adams and his team for winning the Test series against Pakistan. They beat Pakistan by one wicket in the St. John’s Test to regain lost glory. When West Indies, chasing a victory target of 216, were struggling to avoid defeat at 197 for 9, it seemed that they would lose the series. However both Jimmy Adams and Walsh played with great patience to guide their side to remarkable win.

Rajdeep Singh


Though West Indies won the third Test by one wicket, yet the Pakistanis fought brilliantly . After a poor start they managed to score 268 runs due to superb knocks by Inzamam and Youhana. West Indies at one stage were 214 for 3, but sensational bowling by Wasim Akram bowled them out for 272 conceding a lead of mere four runs. After bundling out Pakistan for 219 West Indies started the run chase without much difficulty. Akram again came to their rescue and West Indies were 184 for 9. But for the poor umpiring, Pakistan would have won not only the Test but the series. Walsh was clearly caught at short leg but he was declared not out at 200. Adams was also not adjudged caught behind.

Ved Prakash

Kapil Dev

It is hard to believe that Kapil Dev is the person who offered Rs 25 lakh to Manoj Prabhakar to play below par in a one-dayer in Sri Lanka in 1994. Such allegations against Kapil appear to be misplaced. In fact, Kapil Dev is a man of his own quality who can never play for money. Rather, he only played cricket because of his great love for the game.

Ajay Bansal

S.N. Vohra

The late Mr S.N. Vohra, who was secretary-general of the Chandigarh Hockey Association, and the Rock Rovers Hockey Club produced top hockey players of international fame in the region. He also started the All-India Gurmit Memorial Hockey Tournament at Chandigarh more than 25 years ago. It is an A grade tournament now and is an annual feature. He used to be present at the Sector 18 hockey stadium, every day to encourage the players. He was really dedicated to the cause of hockey. He had big support from his family and the devoted team of workers. We will really miss him.

B.M.Singh Narang