Kevin Garnett is a hit

Bangalore was one of the cities on the NBA ace's whistle stop promo-tour for adidas.

Kevin Garnett's towering presence — in his socks he was six feet 11 inches tall — induced awe as he wielded a cricket bat to hit a few balls with the children of SOS Village near Bangalore. The kids loved to have the NBA star around though very few understood what he said. The Minnesota Timber Wolves forward loved reaching out to the under-privileged children and he spoke about the social change that basketball could bring into their lives as it did to so many in the United States. Garnett, who is one of the most philanthropic sportsmen in the USA (he once donated $ 100,000 for world refugee re-settlement), distributed adidas kits to the kids.

Bangalore was one of the cities on the NBA ace's whistle stop promo-tour for adidas. He had earlier inaugurated KG corner in Delhi and Bangalore's adidas outlet. "It was a wonderful visit for me. I hope the game becomes big in India like cricket and I have watched a few Indian youngsters and they are good and you sure have the potential," said Garnett. When pointed about the lack of infrastructure for the game and adequate support, Garnett shot back, "all those things will come, but play first and everything will fall into place." Garnett offers no shortcuts to success. He rolled up his sleeve and showed a tattoo, which is his motto for success: "Blood, sweat and tears."

Kalyan Ashok * * * * NERVOUS NINETIES MAN

Batsmen's `nervous nineties' recently came into focus at a banking event. Indian captain Rahul Dravid was asked to describe the turmoil going on in the mind of a batsman approaching a century. "I do feel nervous and tense, there is also a sense of excitement," said Dravid, the brand ambassador for Bank of Baroda, which is one year away from celebrating its 100th Foundation Day. Dravid was inaugurating the bank's retail loan facilities at Jaipur, Pune and Surat via a virtual launch from its Mumbai headquarters to mark part of BoB's 99th Foundation Day celebrations. "I have got out many times in the 90s, so I don't know whether I am the right person to answer that question," said Dravid. Interestingly, Australian great Steve Waugh tops the list of Test batsmen with most 90s (10 times in 168 Tests, including twice not out). Dravid follows in second spot with nine (including 91 not out versus Australia at Sydney 2003-04). Both are admired for their temperament, and are better placed than most batsmen to convert long stays at the crease into a century. Waugh and Dravid topping the list of getting out in the `nervous nineties' is a quirk of cricket.

SHASHI ASHLWAL

Getting an icon like Rahul Dravid on its team has worked wonders for BoB's fortunes, observed Dr. Anil Khandelwal, Chairman and Managing Director. "We have been showered by luck since your association with us. Now on 99 approaching the 100th year, we would like to know from you the way to overcome tense moments in the 90's." And Dravid, humility personified, pointed out the inappropriateness of him giving advice.

Nandakumar Marar * * * * ONGC SUPPORTS HUMPY

Grandmaster Koneru Humpy heaved a sigh of relief when employed by the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) as a personnel administrative officer recently in Hyderabad. The talented Humpy, 19, had been facing difficult circumstances with regard to finding sponsors and funding for her future forays in the game. She said that the ONGC would meet her expenditure for taking part in international events. "There is no bar on the number of tournaments. The only requirement is that we must inform the top management well in time for necessary clearances," said Humpy, the world number 2.

Humpy also said that no decision has yet been taken to hire a `second' and that she would continue with her father-cum-coach Koneru Ashok. "We have been working hard on new theories in openings and end-games. I hope that improved results will be seen in the days to come," she said.

V. V. Subrahmanyam