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4th May 1997

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Sachin: I don't like to accept defeat

By C.Sujit Chandara Kumar in Guyana

It has not been the best of the tours for him. Coming from almost two back-to-back tours to England and South Africa where his team lost both the Test and one-day series, he was pinning a lot of hopes on this tour. A win was what the Indian skipper was looking for to bolster the confidence of his young side.

But luck still continued to elude him. The visitors started the tour on an inauspicious note, losing Srinath, their main strike bowler, even before a ball was bowled.

Dogged by controversies and injuries the Indians managed to draw the first two Tests, faltered at Barbados and worked their way through a rain-marred match in Antigua and beat Guyana in the four-day affair.

Helpful though the win was, Sachin did not make too much of it. For Guyana, a team that finished last in the domestic Red Stripe tournament, was doing without the services of its premier batsmen Carl Hooper and Clayton Lambert.

Sachin Tendulkar, one of cricket's top performers, took it all in his stride. As captain, he is in total command. And the way he conducts himself, leading from the front on and off the field has been amazing. Young, just 23 years of age, he has continued to shine in flashes with the willow even while shouldering the burden of captaincy. It was only the other day that he pulled off a virtuoso performance at Antigua where he scored 92 in the first innings. Then again, he failed to score more than four in the second innings.

About the busiest man in the side, he still finds time to have a quiet word of encouragement with the team's juniors, especially Doddanarsiah Ganesh. His contracts probably make him one of the richest cricketers in the world. But his wealth has not made any difference to his behaviour or his game.

Even though play was washed out in the first three days in Antigua, he did not want the distraction of a media interview during the Test. "You are there in Guyana?" he asked. "I'll talk to you there." In Guyana he rested himself for the four-day match and was absolutely relaxed before the series decider.

Sharing his views with The Week Sachin barely raised his voice. Instead, he used cold logic that springs from a shrewd mind to disprove arguments.

Excerpts from an exclusive interview:

Q: How is the series going?

A: Except for the three hours in Barbados I am quite happy with the way we have played. We have been on top throughout and I think we have really done well.

Q: India began well and a number of players did well, including you. But we couldn 't win the third Test and that was what really mattered.

Definitely, I would say so. Winning really matters and we have come here to win. We missed that opportunity and we couldn't have got a better chance than that. I was really, really disappointed with the way we played in the second innings. Everything went against us and nothing clicked.

Q: What did you tell the players after the loss?

A: Oh, nothing much. I just said that we have to look at the brighter side of it. Of the last six Test matches that we played abroad, three times we came close to winning at Cape Town and in this tour at Trinidad and Barbados. So it is just a matter of patience. When we get into a situation like that we should talk and reassure each other. It (the collapse) was probably because there was a lot of anxiety and pressure on us. The wicket wasn't too good. The odd ball was kicking up and every other one kept low, so it was not easy to bat on. Looking at the positive aspects will motivate us in future and next time we come across a situation like this, it will help us keep our cool.

Q: There was criticism that the approach was defensive on your part as well as that of the team.

A: No. l went for the shots. I faced only seven or eight balls and scored four runs. I remember having punched one on the back foot. I just told them, 'Go out and play your natural game. Don't leave it to the others. Don't think that if I get out there is another batsman and two more will follow after him. Just think that just the two of you have to get those runs.' Only that kind of attitude could have helped us.

The West Indies also got out in the second innings for 140. So it is not that the West Indies batted well. And the wicked rapidly deteriorated. I knew it was going to be difficult.

Q: Some people feel that Azhar could have been promoted ahead of Ganguly in the Trinidad Test. They say that not having done so is an example of defensive thinking.

A: I don't think so because Saurav Ganguly can play shots. But he didn't feel too comfortable that evening and was very cautious. I had a word with him that day. But if you are thinking of giving a chance to youngsters, we should be willing to accept all these things.

Q: Do you think that Indian cricket has improved over the years?

A: With so many youngsters around I think it is a very important stage. We have to really improve and we are on the way. We have to try and reach as close to perfection as possible. Fielding is a key factor in modern cricket and we are working hard on that aspect as well.

Q: Do you believe that we should have one-day specialists?

A: Most definitely. There are a few players who play some shots which other guys don't. These guys should be in the one-day game. If you really look at it, the middle or lower-middle order batsmen have to bat only for 15 overs or so in a one-day match, whereas in a Test they are expected to stay put for 60 or 70 overs. There are some players who can change the game in those 15 overs, so why not?

Q: Who have done well on this tour?

A: Rahul batted very well and Sidhu, of course, performed well. But I think the find of the tour is Abey Kuruvilla who has done very well very consistent.

Q: What about Jadeja who played well in the Antigua match? Has he cemented his place in the team?

A: We haven't decided on the final eleven but, most probably, yes.

Q: How do you overcome the pressures of being the Indian captain?

A: Well, it is not so easy to overcome all the pressures and obstacles. It is going to be very hard. But I try and manage somehow. I am trying my level best. It's a great challenge and captaining the side is very thrilling.

Sometimes things don't go your way and at times everything happens the way you want it. There are ups and downs. While batting I feel that I am a batsman like the other ten. When I am there at the crease I don't have to do any captaining. I try and play my natural game and my skills are more important than anything else at that time. It is when you field that the captaincy aspect becomes important. You've got to take all the decisions.

I don't feel any pressure while batting, but being one of the senior members of the team I take more responsibility. The team should play around its senior members like Azhar and Sidhu.

Q: When you are on the field you give the impression that you are very calm inside. Are you agitated inside?

A: Yeah, sometimes you do get agitated. Sometimes you lose your cool. It's part of the game. But it is very important how you show it to your opponents. If you don't show your emotions to them it is good for the team. Once the opponents know that the team has lost its cool, its definitely not going to help. When you don't show your reaction, the opponents don't know what is going on in your mind.

Q: What has been the greatest moment in your career?

A: Beating Pakistan in the World Cup. That was one of my happiest moments. The best innings? It's hard to say. The innings I played in Perth. Then the crucial one I played against Zimbabwe in South Africa.

Q: Do you get lots of fan mail?

A: Yes.

Q: Crank calls?

A: Sometimes.

Q: Did any girl have a crush on you before you got married?

A: Not really.

Q: Who is the toughest bowler you have faced?

A: So many, I would say: Curtley Ambrose, Walsh, Allan Donald, Shane Warne, Wasim Akram, Richard Hadlee.

Q: How do you cope with media criticism when things go against you?

A: Well, that is bound to happen. When you are successful, you enjoy it and when things go bad, you face them. About the media when I really make a mistake and they point it out, I accept. But when I have not done anything wrong and yet they write, I take it that the media is also going through a bad patch.

Q: How do you urge yourself on when you play?

A: When you play for your country, the hunger should be there to get runs and wickets. Once you have that will to perform all the time, it is good for the side. That's probably the secret of success for all the players: the will to perform well all the time. We should be proud that we are representing the country. You see, you are getting the opportunity out of so many people. Every time you go out in the middle you feel good that so many people are backing you, so many people are wishing you well and praying for you. These things keep coming to my mind.

Q: How do you urge yourself on when you play?

A: When you play for your country, the hunger should be there to get runs and wickets. Once you have that will to perform all the time, it is good for the side. That's probably the secret of success for all the players: the will to perform well all the time. We should be proud that we are representing the country. - Courtesy The Week


Singer Super Inter Provincial football kicks off today

The Singer Super Inter Provincial football championships 1997 will kick-off today with 15 matches down for decision this weekend.

This tournament which will be played on a knock-out basis will be played in two rounds.

The first round matches scheduled for this weekned are:

Anuradhapura vs Trincomalee at Anuaradhapura,

Ampara vs Batticaloa at Ampara,

Police vs Navy at Police Park,

Balangoda vs Ratnapura at Balangoda,

Chilaw vs City FL at Chilaw,

Wattala vs Dehiwela Mount Lavinia at Wattala,

Negombo vs Puttalam at Negombo,

Wennappuwa vs Gampaha at Wennappuwa, Beruwala vs Playgrounds at Beruwala,

Galle vs Army at Galle,

Government Services vs Nationalised Services at Campbell Park, Matara vs Hambantota at Matara, Kegalle vs Gampola at Kegalle, Nawalapitiya vs Hatton at Nawalapitiya

Matale vs Mawanella at Matale.

Badulla, Bandara-wela, Air Force, Colombo, Kurunegala and Nuwara-Eliya have drawn byes into the second round.

The second round will be played on May 17/18, the third round on May 31, quarter finals on June 14/15, semi finals on June 28 and the finals on July 12th.

The champions will be awarded Rs. 50,000/- while the runners-up will receive Rs. 25,000/-. The best goal keeper of the tournament, highest goal shooter of the tournament will be awarded Rs. 10,000/- each and the man of the finals will be awarded Rs. 5,000/- (AF).


Harshana in second round

Top seed in the boys under 12 singles Harshana Godamunne had easy passage into the second round defeating C. Widanarachchi 9-nil on the opening day of the Junior Hardcourt tennis championships conducted at the National Tennis Centre Courts at Greenpath.

Chamara Gunawardena pulled off a narrow 9-8 with over R.Abdeen while D.G. Basnyake beat Randika Gunawardena 9-6 and N.S. Nishanderan beat D.A. Wijesooriya 9-6.

In the other first round matches, Christian Henk beat S. Kurukulasuriya 9-4, D.S Senaratne beat Aritha Ediraweera 9-4 Ruwantha Cooray beat K.IIukkumbura 9-0 K.Jayaratne beat P.Abeygunawardena 9-4 D.S. Ratnayake beat Rajeev Vedachalam 9-3, Dilshan Abeygunawardena beat H.de silva 9-3, N.Rajakaruna beat T. Thavaresan9-0, G.de Silva beat V. Wijesundera 9-1.


Trials to pick pool for Asian soccer c'ships

Trials to pick Sri Lanka's under 16 and 19 football pools for the 8th and 31st Asian Football championships (AFC) will be conducted by the Sri Lanka Football Association at nine centres this month.

On May 10 trials will be conducted at Badulla for the players from the Hatton, Nuwara-Eliya and Bandarawela at 3 p.m. followed by the trials next day May 11th at 9 a.m.

On May 25 trials will be held at Gampola for the players from the leagues of Kegalle, Mawanella, Matale, Nawalapitiya and Kandy from 9 a.m.

On May 31 trials will be conducted at Wennappuwa for the players from Negombo, Chilaw and Puttalam followed by the trials on June 7 at Ratnapura for players from Balangoda. On June 14 trials will be held for players from Kurunegala and Trincomalee at Anuradhapura from 3 p.m.

On June 20 trials will be held at the FFSL grounds at Reid Avenue for the players from Wattala, Gampaha, Nugegoda, Dehiwela, Mount Lavinia, schools, playgrounds, Colombo and City. The dates for trials for the players of Galle, Hambantota, Matara, Kalutara and Ampara, Batticaloa will be notified later.


Wimbledon: Men still to win more titles

London - Wimbledon men still to win more than women have once again resisted calls to allocate equal prize money to men and women at this year's championships.

The men's singles champion will receive 415,000 pounds ($673,000), an increase of 22,500 pounds ($36,500) last year, compared with a first prize of 373,500 pounds ($606,000) for the women's singles winner.

Total prize money has increased by 6.5 percent to 6,885,000 pounds ($11.2 million) and for the first time incorporates "per diem" payments to players in the qualifying tournament.

The top women players, however, will have to wait a little longer for equal status in cash terms at the All England Club.

"We look at it very seriously every year but having considered all the facts we felt we had no good reason to change the way we are," said club Chairman John Curry.

"It is still the public's view that they prefer the men's matches to the women's."

This years's Wimbledon will see the debut of the new number one court which will extend the potential capacity of the grounds to 32,000 and Curry believes the considerable investment in rebuilding work will keep Wimbledon at the forefront of the game.

"We constantly strive to ensure Wimbledon retains its premier position. We feel the prize money is a suitable reward for the endeavours of the players who are the best in the world," he said.


Hitch over Independence Cup

New Delhi - The second final of the four-nation Pepsi-Independence Cup, to be played in Calcutta on May 27 has run into a hitch with the police there insisting on an early start to the match.

According to reports available here, Calcutta police has told Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) that play would not be allowed to continue beyond 2200 hrs. in the day/night match. For a match to end by that hour, the start has to be made at 1400 hrs.

As per the schedule announced by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), matches in all the venues except Mohali and Gwalior, will start at 1600 hrs. which means they will end around midnight. The Mohali and Gwalior matches, because of the heat in north India, are slated to start at 1700 hrs. and will end around 0100 hrs.

The CAB President Jagmohan Dalmiya, who is also BCCI Secretary, is reportedly sorting out the matter with the Calcutta police.


Jitters for Squash No 1

Peter Nicole produced the best performance by a British man for 24 years when he nearly beat Jansher Khan in the British Open final in Cardiff last weekend.

The world No. 3 from Scotland was within a few points of bringing down Mr. Heartbreak, the man who has dominated his sport for a decade.

The final, lasting two hours and six minutes, left both the Pakistani legend and the London-based left-hander on the frontier of exhaustion.

It was the longest match Jansher had ever played in the British Open.

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