Ponting injury not serious
Sourav to lead Bengal
Anand lacks ambition to be world champion: Korchno
Foreigners give Mohun Bagan edge
Australian heartbeat is different, feels Andrew Sy
Chieftan takes on subdued opposition
My horse is a worthy favourite, says Hughes
Aloritz wins Million

 
 
PONTING INJURY NOT SERIOUS 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Sydney, Feb. 5 
All of Australia, perhaps, heaved a sigh of relief this afternoon as a most thorough examination of Ricky Pontingís right ankle revealed nothing more than a ďsprain and bad bruising.Ē

Ponting, a key member of the all-conquering Australian side, hurt himself in trying to cut off a boundary at the SCG last evening. He slammed against the hoardings and had to be motored off in the drinks Ďbuggy.í

According to The Telegraphís sources, team physio Errol Alcott and fitness expert David Misson Ďworkedí on the injured ankle till the early hours of this morning, before leaving for Melbourne where scans and X-rays were conducted.

The results were announced at a Media conference, this afternoon, and Ponting himself is ďvery confidentĒ of leaving with the team (for New Zealand) on February 14.

It is, of course, understood Ponting may have to undergo a fitness test next Friday. Should he not be cleared, the experienced Michael Slater and Greg Blewett, though largely Test players only, could come into the frame.

However, there is also talk that rookie wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin (New South Wales) may get the call-up ó assuming Ponting is unfit, that is.

As of now, the selectors are set to name XIII for the first leg of the tour, which features six one-day Internationals (from February 16-March 3). The XIII selected for the Carlton and United Series finals, one learns, will be retained.

The side for the three Tests will be picked later. The matches, between March 11 and April 4, will be in Auckland, Wellington and Hamilton.    


 
 
SOURAV TO LEAD BENGAL 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 5 
Sourav Ganguly will lead Bengal in the Ranji Trophy Super League match versus Delhi at the Eden from February 16. Devang Gandhi has been named vice-captain.

Shibpur Institute off-spinner Kunal Bajpayee is the only new face in the 14-member squad announced today. Seamer Sumit Panda has been dropped from the team which played Bihar in the last zonal league match.    


 
 
ANAND LACKS AMBITION TO BE WORLD CHAMPION: KORCHNO 
 
 
BY A CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Feb. 5 
Victor Korchnoi is a man prone to rebellious ideas and controversial statements. In 1976, Korchnoi left the erstwhile Soviet Union alleging that the State was interfering with his professional career.

After playing in the IBM meet at Amsterdam, he walked into a police station to seek political protection. He then went to Germany before settling in Switzerland.

Korchnoi, accompanied by his wife Hajny, arrived in the city today to participate in the Goodricke International Open which gets underway at Alekhine Chess Club tomorrow.

Korchnoi, who played against Anatoly Karpov twice ó in 1978 and 1981 ó for the world championship title, alleged that he didnít only fight against Karpov but had to do so against the Soviet system.

When he first played Karpov in 1978, the Soviets refused to allow him to play under the Swiss flag and wanted him to play under a White flag. Korchnoi said he was ready to play under the Hammer and Sickle flag provided it had the words ďI have escapedĒ written on it. After trailing 5-2, he went on to draw level at 5-5 but finally lost the match amidst controversy.

Korchnoi said: ďNot only did Karpov have the backing of the state, he also employed the services of a para-psychologist who used to stare at me during matches. In chess, it can affect a player.Ē To counter this, Korchnoi employed two Ananda Margis.

When asked about chess personalities to have gone beyond the realm of Ď64 squaresí he mentioned the legendary Bobby Fischer and Garri Kasparov.

Though Korchnoi participated in the world championships in Las Vegas recently, he was critical of the new format.

ďI donít consider Khalifman to be the new world champion. At best, he can be called the winner of the World Cup tournament.Ē

Asked about Viswanathan Anandís chances of becoming the world champion, he said: ďAnand is perhaps the most normal of the chess elite. He does not have enough ambition to be the world champion. His ability and skill to overcome defeat is not like Kasparov. There are some weaknesses which are impossible to improve which are there in human character. If you donít have strong nerves it is very difficult to change that.Ē

When asked if he remembered a small boy named Dibyendu Barua who beat him at Lloyds Bank meet in 1982, he smiled. ďI believe, thatís the reason, why I have been invited for this meet.Ē    


 
 
FOREIGNERS GIVE MOHUN BAGAN EDGE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 5 
Mohun Baganís formidable attacking line will be up against the organised defence of Salgaocar in a crucial Coca-Cola National League match at Salt Lake Stadium tomorrow.

With the striking trio of Igor Shkvirin, Stephen Abarowei and Jose Ramirez Barreto doing well, the home team will certainly look to consolidate their position at the top and add to their tally of 25 after 12 matches.

Uzbek marksman Igor has combined well with his Nigerian and Brazilian partners and Basudeb Mondal and R.P. Singh have done well in midfield in the last few matches. That, coupled with the fact that Salgaocar have not been impressive of late, make Mohun Bagan the favourites for tomorrowís match.

Salgaocarís forward line, despite the presence of the promising Alvito DíCunha and Brazilian Joao Dos Santos, has been ineffective. Uzbek import Azamot has also yet to prove his worth.

With 20 points after 12 matches, the Goans will try their best to collect at least a point from this Ďawayí match which will keep alive their hopes of defending the title. Their deep defence, comprising Roberto Fernandes and Franky Barreto look good on paper but they will be tested as they were in the first-leg match in Margao which Mohun Bagan won by virtue of a Ramirez goal.

Mohun Bagan coach Subrata Bhattacharya said they were not taking the Goans lightly. The absence of Samuel Omollo will be felt and Debjit Ghosh is likely to partner Hussain Mustafi in deep defence. The good news for him is Thai left-back Dushit Chalersman is back and will play tomorrow. Defence, however, has not been Mohun Baganís strength this season and the coach was undecided over whom to use as defensive medio. His options are limited and the coach may have to use veteran Satyajit Chatterjee after a long gap.    


 
 
AUSTRALIAN HEARTBEAT IS DIFFERENT, FEELS ANDREW SY 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Sydney, Feb. 5 
As a kid, Andrew Symonds found himself orphaned and so, life early on couldnít have been easy. Today, at age 24, he makes life real tough for the opposition.

And, England must be ruing their luck. If only Symonds had chosen the country of his birth...

Though overlooked for the World Cup, he has since then established himself in the Australian one-day XI. One could even say he is indispensable, always there to chip in with bat and/or ball.

Symonds is brilliant in the field, too.

Feared as one of the cleanest and fiercest hitters (he holds the record for the maximum of 16 sixes in a first-class innings, Gloucestershire versus Glamorgan), Symonds is reserved off the field. Indeed, with robes on, he could even pass off as a Buddhist monk.

The star allrounder, who is Brisbane-based, spoke to The Telegraph this morning, only hours after handsomely contributing to Australiaís Carlton and United Series victory.

Following are excerpts

On his childhood

I was born in Birmingham and stayed in England till I was a year-and-half old. Thatís when my (adoptive English) parents brought me to Australia... We were in Victoria for some time and then moved to North Queensland. Later, to further my career, I settled in Brisbane.

On whether he ever seriously considered playing for England

Frankly, no. It was at Dave Gilbertís invitation that I returned to England, in 1995, to play for Gloucestershire ó being a British passport-holder, I could play as a local (Jawagal Srinath, incidentally, was the Countyís overseas pro that summer)

I was, of course, clear in my mind that I was only there to gain experience, to learn playing in different conditions. But, because I did well and the English selectors picked me for the A team, the Media drummed it up as a big issue. However, for me, making the choice wasnít a big deal. I announced my future lay with Australia.

(Emotionally) My heart was, is and will remain with Australia... Iím an Australian... Iíve never regretted having opted not to play for England. In any case, in England, I couldnít ever have enjoyed the things I like doing here.

On whether he took it for granted that one day he would play for Australia

Thatís not correct. Nobody hands out guarantees... Nobody called to say I would play but, yes, plenty of people did say I could soon play (for Australia).

On what brings him off-the-field enjoyment

(Smiles) Fishing, hunting, camping... Riding... One can indulge in all this in England as well but, as Iíve said, I wouldnít have enjoyed it there. The Australian lifestyle is different. Indeed, the Australian heartbeat is different.

On his role models

Viv Richards, certainly... A generation and more grew up admiring him. I also loved the characters, like the Dennis Lillees, who would always be up to something or the other... For sheer guts, I admired Rick McCosker batting with a broken jaw... Among the present-day cricketers, I do feel Steve Waugh is a legend.

On his aggressive approach to the game

Thatís part of being involved... Unless the involvement is there, enjoyment will be lacking. Iíve worked hard at fielding and am developing as a bowler. Hopefully, in a couple of years, Iíll be right up there (as a bowler).

Ideally, one should put in a fifty-fifty effort, both in batting and bowling. But, like Iíve pointed out, Iíve been working more at my bowling and a huge inspiration has been Adam Dale... Basically, I put in hundred per cent, not just during a match but in the lead-up as well... If, even after that, the ball doesnít roll my way, nobody can knock me down for not having slogged enough.

On whether he is aggressive as a person, too

Iím pretty laidback and donít impose anything on anybody unless I feel very strongly about it.

On whether his West Indian background has something to do with his remarkable natural athleticism

Even when I was a child, I would never sit still. I would keep running around, or would dash off on the bike... This desire to always get things done, rather than sit back and wait, has probably contributed most to my athleticism. Having been brought up in the countryside, where the environment is hard, helped as well.

On whether he envies a contemporary allrounder

Not really... Actually, if you look around, there arenít very many outstanding allrounders. In fact, as I personally donít believe my bowling is really of the level it ought to be, Iím not sure whether I can be clubbed with the truly genuine allrounders...

On being credited with a shrewd cricket brain

(Grins) I may not be the smartest bloke in the world, but Iím pretty observant.. I would say Iím practical, too. At the same time, Iím aware one never stops learning.

On his stint at the Academy

Wonderful. I was one of the residential trainees and learnt to be both mentally and physically tough. The atmosphere, where you shared thoughts and aspirations with the other trainees, was ideal for somebody who didnít just want to be remembered as one who, though talented, somehow couldnít make it.

On whether itís a big plus that John Buchanan, who coached Queensland, is now the national coach

Absolutely... In the past, Iíve also sat down with Matthew Hayden and worked at my batting besides, of course, interacting with Dale. Both have been successful players, and inputs from somebody successful isnít ever going to hurt. If I may add, both have a terrific work ethic.

On being branded a one-day specialist only

Obviously, it would be great if I could play Test cricket, but given the current playersí form, it wouldnít be realistic to think about it... Scoring big hundreds (in the Pura Milk Cup) is what the selectors will be looking at. I intend catching their eye.

On whether such labels, at the very start of oneís career, could hurt

Hmmm... Itís up to me to try and create an opportunity at the Test level and, when that is done, Iíve got to prove Iím worthy of a place... Letís wait and see.

On the dressing-room ambience

Not everyone is going to do well in every game, but if two batters and two bowlers can get their act right, the match is as good as won... If someone fails, somebody else will make it to the rostrum... Our USP, really, is collective confidence.

On his special liking for the Indian attack (two hundreds in two side games and a MoM-award winning effort in the Sydney one-dayer)

(Smiles again) With experience, Iíve learnt never to throw away a good start... Itís because I would get too ambitious with my shot-making, in the past, that I struggled at the start of my career. Now, itís different.

On living out of a suitcase and other demands imposed by one-day Internationals

Iíve been enjoying myself... Itís a warm feeling to walk out in the Australian colours and be applauded by Australian fans. For me, itís like re-living a dream I had years ago... Thankfully, today, itís not a dream but reality.

Finally, on the sportspersons he looks up to outside cricket

At the top are two outstanding athletes ó Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson.    


 
 
CHIEFTAN TAKES ON SUBDUED OPPOSITION 
 
 
FROM PRAVESH GUPTA
 
Mumbai Feb. 5 
The Mumbai horseracing elite may hardly get to sleep tonight, thanks to UB Group, the sponsor of the McDowell Indian Derby tomorrow. The usual pre-Derby build up which starts today in the evening, will continue till late night. It may barely leave race lover to have forty winks as the Derby Day 10-event action begins at 1.15 pm. Although the Derby has been billed for 4.45 pm, lesser events could be equally competitive compared to the mega-event which, on paper, a majority of people feel may be for Smart Cbieftanís asking. The Karan Singh-trainee, however, may not help the cause of a common punter. He is being quoted at scary odds of 4-10 in the ante-post betting.

Frankly speaking, the 10 horses in the opposition are no duds whatever the race professionals feel. They seem to have resigned in favour of the Chieftan in the absence of no recent clash among the prime contenders. The Chieftan is the one to beat is the chant in their circles.

Arti Doctor, the trainer of Great Investment, was the only one to make a daring statement. ďI donít agree that the favourite is invincible,Ē said Arti. Even the dashing fellow-professional Padmanabhan was careful with his words, though he was quite praiseworthy about the staying prowess of Congratulation and also Alchemy being at his peak form now.

Agreed, the Chieftan has done everything asked for. He was a double-handful when he trounced the Guineas field followed it by an equally impressive victory over 2,000m. But he had thrashed only Secret Treasure in his both starts. Now he takes on the likes of Great Investment, Congratulations , Alchemy and Ray Of Light.

While the Investment has downed the colours of the last yearís Derby winner Saddle up, albeit at 13-kg weight advantage, Congratulations has under her belt a fluent Oaks victory. The Derby may have arrived a week too early for the Razeen-Try Kola daughter but she bears a fresh look. Alchemy, too, won the Bangalore Derby in a convincing manner but the long journey and another Derby in a fortnight time could be his undoing.

Dallas Todaywalla, on the other hand, feels his Ray Of Light may definitely pose threat to Congratulation. ďShe was down with fever 12 days before the Oaks, yet was a decent third.Ē said Dallas. And lastly, State Treasure, could be lucky the third time out.

It is going to be a smashing Derby and for the winner one cannot help but go with the wiser lot. Moreover, one has to respect the judgment of trainer Rashid Byramji. The maestro rates Smart Chieftan as the best in the country. He has a sharp eye and his views are unbiased as he has very little personal interest in the Derby line-up. But the Chieftan is not invincible, he may find strong challengers in Great Investment and Congratulations.

SELECTIONS

1.15 pm: San Marino Star 1. Berlino 2. Epic Queen 3.

1.45 pm: Tio Pepe 1. Amorous Delight 2. Secret Blessingís 3.

2.15 pm: St. Vincent 1. Smooth Operator 2. Supreme Authority 3.

2.45 pm: Raise A Toast 1. Amber Wine 2. Zaka 3.

3.15 pm: Gold Dust 1. Cyclonic 2. Cafe Noire 3.

3.45 pm: Anagram 1. Cruel Intention 2. Prabhuti 3.

4.15 pm: Girl From Ipanema 1. Absolute Power 2. Khaalis 3.

4.45 pm: Smart Chieftan 1. Great Investment 2. Congratulations 3.

5.30 pm: Endorsement 1. Lady Moura 2. Machirihanish 3.

6 pm: Ella Mon Amour 1. Comment Allez Vous 2. Bearer Bond 3.

Dayís Best: San Marino Star Double: St. Vincent & Raise A Toast.    


 
 
MY HORSE IS A WORTHY FAVOURITE, SAYS HUGHES 
 
 
FROM HONKY DORY
 
Mumbai, Feb 5 
Although each professional is secretly hoping to win the Derby but vocally they were unanimous that Smart Chieftan is the horse to beat. The following are the comments from some of the leading professionals:

Trainers:

S. Padmanabhan: Congratulations is too talented a filly meant for winning events like Derby while Alchemy has peaked at the right time. Both horses are winners of Grade I races. But Smart Chieftan is in great form too. My horses are capable of beating the favourite.

Karan Singh: (Smart Chieftan): I will win no matter what the pace in the Derby is like.. The opposition may look for the minor slots.

Arti Doctor: Touch wood, my Great Investment has done everything asked for. He is in for his final test and I donít expect him to disappoint me.

C. D. Katrak: In my opinion, Smart Chieftan is the best horse in the Debry line-up. His style of winning previous events make me confident about him.

Rashid Byramji: Smart Chieftan is the best horse in India today. I donít expect any surprise result in the Derby. Great Investment is the only who may come close to him but I donít think any horse can beat him.

Bezan Chenoy (Secret Treasure): There is only one horse I need to beat and that is Smart Chieftan. My horse will be thereabouts.

Dallas Todywalla: I am not ready to look anything beyond Smart Chieftan. I see my Star Supreme in him.

S. S. Shah: Smart Chieftan is in great form and an outstanding horse. It is current form of the horse that takes him to the top. But I also expect Padmanabhanís filly Congratulations to run close. She ran a great race in the Oaks.

Jockeys:

Richard Hughes: My horse (Smart Chieftan) is a worthy favourite. I think he is the best horse in the field.

Aslam Kader (Secret Treasure): In the past, I have tried all my tricks against Smart Chieftan but failed. Itís very difficult to beat this horse. I hope to place second.

Pesi Shroff: Only fate can beat Smart Chieftan. He has all the credentials and more importantly form to win. I only hope my filly Austria is able to place.

Paul Eddery: Congratulations is a much improved filly and she has displayed her staying potential in the Oaks. She will fight it out with Smart Chieftan.

Bajrang Singh: Great Investment is on the up. He is more than keeping the promise he has been showing in his each start. I have great faith in his ability. He is a giant killer.

Isnít he?

Horseowners:

K. N. Dhunjibhoy: My Ronaldo will run a decent race but nothing has beaten Smart Chieftan so far. Congratulations has shown lot of improvement and she stays. The filly may trouble him and also Secret Treasure who has been running in the shadow of the champion horse.    


 
 
ALORITZ WINS MILLION 
 
 
BY OUR TURFCORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Feb. 5 
Vijay Singh trained lasser fancied Aloritz comfortably lifted the 1,600m Kalyani Black Label Million Stakes today. Paul Eddery partnered the Razeen-Allesca colt, the hot favourite Analogy ridden by Aslam Kader finished a struggling third.

RESULTS

1. Beauregard Cup 2,400m: (3-2-4-5) Allodium (C. Alford) 1; Acadameus (Amil) 2; Tejeni (Shanker) 3; Charlene (Connorton) 4. Won by: 1-1/2; SH; 3-1/4; (2-40.9). Tote: Win Rs 17; Place: 12; 49; Quinella: 81; Tanala: 337. Fav: Allodium (3). Winner trained by Bharath S.

2. Brown Wolf Handicap 1,400m: (9-1-5-4) Bul Bul (Engineer) 1; Black Mane (Surender) 1. Amerrico (Yasin) 3; Dipolmatic Gesture (Manoahr) 4. Won by: 1-1/4; 1-1/4; 1-3/4; (1-28.9). Tote: Win Rs 71; Place: 17; 24; 14; Quinella: 207; Tanala: 1,603. Fav: Amerrico (5). Winner trained by P. Locke.

3. Veritas Handicap 1,100m: (3-6-7-2) Time Of Times (Merchant) 1; Tribal Warlord (Naruddin) 2; Wild Dreams (Rabani) 3; Swingtime (Bird) 4. Won by: 4-1/4; 1-3/4; 1/2; (1-7.8). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 12; 45; 31; Quinella: 227; Tanala: 1,321. Fav: Time Of Times (3). Winner trained by R. Alford.

4. Metropolitan 1,200m: (6-5-1-3) Artwork (Kader) 1; Acquest (C. Alford) 2; Alkanet (Eddery 3; Arlington (Connorton 4. Won by: 3; 2-1/4; 2-1/4; (1-13.2). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 11; 12; 13; Quinella: 55; Tanala: 144. Fav: Artwork (6). Winner trained by D. Byramji.

5. Kalyani Black Label Million Stakes 1,600m: (1-5-2-3) Aloritzd (Eddery) 1; Actress (C. Alford) 2; Analogy (Kader) 3; Soviet Port (Shroff) 4. Won by: 1-1/4; 3/4; 3/4; (1-40.9). Tote: Win Rs 70; Place: 17; 35; 11; Quinella: 777; Tanala: 2,824. Fav: Analogy (2). Winner trained by Vijay S.

6. Vitarba Handicap 1,100m: (6-5-4-2) Auctioneer (C. Alford) 1; As You Please (P. Alford) 2; Storm Centre (Akhtar) 3; Volcano Top (Manohar) 4. Won by: 3/4; 1-1/4; 2; (1-6.7). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 13; 26; 21; Quinella: 152; Tanala: 794. Fav: Auctioneer (6). Winner trained Vijay S.

Jackpot: Rs 5,293; (C) Rs 499.

Treble: (i) Rs 161; (ii) Rs 476.    

 

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