Today’s draw, which didn’t come easy, ensured that Sandipan will get his second nine-game IM norm here. Now he needs 1.5 points from three rounds to secure a GM norm.
GM Gregory Kaidanov continued to lead the field with a quick, 13-move draw against India’s Abhijit Kunte. Kaidanov now has 5.5 points and is followed by seven players — including Sandipan and K. Sasikiran — with have 4.5 each.
Most players at the top preferred to play it safe with short draws. Ziaur Rahman drew with top seed Vladimir Akopian in 12 moves while Evgeny Vladimirov drew with IM K. Sasikiran in 15 moves of the Slav Defence.
Like yesterday, Sandipan once again found himself in trouble from the opening which arose from an irregular Queen’s Pawn game. Korchnoi took control of the centre with his rooks and queen but Sandipan broke open the A-file and launched a brave counterattack. Korchnoi was unable to convert his positional advantage into a win and the peace treaty was signed after the exchange of queens.
Korchnoi refused to analyse the game with Sandipan after the match. “I played awfully, so I don’t want to analyse the game with you,” he said.
Sandipan, however, considered today’s performance to be his best in the meet so far.
IM G.B. Prakash held Chinese GM Peng Xiaoming in the King’s Indian defence in 37 moves and IM Tejas Bakre drew with Ukranian GM Alexander Goloschapov with black pieces in the Ritcher Rauser variation of the Sicilian Defence.
World U-18 girls’ champion A. Ramaswamy drew with the highest rated foreign IM in the meet, Uzbek Tahir Vakhidov, in 20 moves to go upto 3.5 points.
However, according to The Telegraph’s sources, the PCB opted for Saeed Anwar once Moin indicated he wouldn’t be interested in a short-term appointment.
Moin had a point but, with the team currently not doing well, the PCB isn’t looking beyond the forthcoming home series versus Sri Lanka.
Anwar, incidentally, has already had a taste of the captaincy. For that matter, Moin as well.
In fact, Anwar was Moin’s deputy when the latter got the captaincy for the first time — the 1995 Asia Cup, in Sharjah.
The PCB began scouting for a ‘new’ captain after Akram’s “lengthy meeting” with the PCB chairman, Lt Gen. Tauqir Zia, earlier this week.
Though Akram’s sudden resignation has encouraged speculation, some of it pretty wild, sources both in Lahore and Karachi confirmed Akram relinquished the captaincy of his own accord.
In Pakistan, that really is something of a record, specially in the post-Imran Khan era. Akram, though, is still very much part of the Pakistan team.
Akram, who left Lahore for Karachi this morning, himself wasn’t available for comment but wife Huma did speak exclusively.
“The first thing Wasim said, on returning home (from Australia), is that he wasn’t enjoying the captaincy... That he couldn’t take the blame any more, that the demands on a captain were increasing by the day.
“He repeated much the same thing when he met the PCB chief... Today, Wasim just wants to enjoy what remains of his career. He is aiming to become the first bowler-ever to take 400 wickets in both Tests and one-dayers and, so, it’s not that he isn’t interested in the game,” she said.
Akram has already gone past the 400-mark in ODIs, while his tally in Tests stands at 383. Akram’s debut was way back in 1984-85, when Imran introduced him as the “best” left-arm quick after Australian legend Alan Davidson.
Apparently, Akram specifically told Lt Gen. Zia he couldn’t “motivate” himself to lead Pakistan, one more time, and would be happy with whatever decision was taken.
Huma, speaking from the Akrams’ Lahore residence, added: “Wasim is very pleased the PCB effected the change so smoothly... He is already more relaxed and, God willing, will get back to his best against the Sri Lankans.”
Significantly, Akram won’t be without a job should he quit cricket altogether on reaching the 400-mark in Tests: In his pocket, after all, rests a handsome (commentary) contract with Channel 4 in the UK.
The Channel’s assignments had kept Akram busy after last summer’s World Cup, and he will be similarly engaged this summer, too.
Pakistan’s next Test series, after the one versus Sri Lanka, will be in the West Indies. It ends in the last week of May.
Meanwhile, focussing on the future, the PCB is moving ahead on two fronts. By dropping veterans Ijaz Ahmed and Inzamam-ul-Haq a clear signal has been sent.
That, of course, is strictly team related.
Then, where the structure of the game itself is concerned, a massive overhaul is on the cards.
Indeed, a blueprint is being prepared by two former captains, Javed Miandad and Rameez Raja, both of whom are on the PCB’s Advisory Panel.
It is understood the duo will call for an end to institutions (like the PIA and the banks) fielding teams. Instead, they will be encouraged to ‘adopt’ provincial sides.
Should this materialise, it’s possible the Patron’s Trophy will be scrapped, allowing all the attention to remain on the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
The PCB is also likely to streamline club cricket, bringing it under one umbrella and starting both summer and winter leagues.
As clubs have been known to produce talent out-of-the-ordinary, this may well be the PCB’s most far-reaching move.
Tollygunge Agragami erased a first-half deficit of 0-2 to beat Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) 4-2 in a Coca-Cola National League tie at Rabindra Sarobar Stadium today.
Sasthi Duley, Seriki Abdulateef, Awoyemi Isiaka and substitute striker Moses Owira struck for the Calcutta team after ITI striker R.C. Prakash scored both goals for the visitors.
Tollygunge, who went down 0-2 to ITI in the first-leg match in Bangalore, thus took their tally to 19 after 14 matches. ITI have 11 from 14.
Tollygunge started sluggishly and were 0-2 down by the ninth minute. ITI took the lead in the fifth minute when Prakash headed in a corner kick from Nasir Jamal. The agile striker found the mark again after four minutes with an angular shot which went through the legs of goalkeeper Rajat Ghosh Dastidar.
But Amal Dutta’s men came back strongly in the second half which took ITI by surprise. Dutta replaced medio Abayomi Felix with Soumen Sarkar and brought in Owira in place of Kajal Bhattacharya in the second half.
Tollygunge started invading the rival territory with vigour and Duley reduced the margin in the 59th minute. His team restored parity 14 minutes later through Nigerian striker Seriki and went ahead in the 73rd minute when Isiaka found the mark.
Owira, the Kenyan recruit, scored the insurance goal after a solo effort with just two minutes remaining.
Topsel’s early promise faded after Suresh Chandra and Anil Manektala had chalked out a 15-11, 15-13 victory over Nicco’s Satish Puri and Arunava Saha. In a keenly contested 50-minute opening match, the Topsel pair opened up a seven-point lead in the first game which their opponents found hard to bridge.
The second game was a neck-and-neck affair with the Nicco pair managing to counter Topsel’s attacking flair.
Nicco’s Subir Banerjee and Surajit Das, however, made amends in second match, drawing level with a brilliant 15-0, 15-0 win. Topsel’s Bhargava and A. Kundu looked lost against their tactically superior opponents.
Nicco’s Kapil Bhan and Ashok Majumdar won the decider, prevailing over Ashok Manketala and Gurbux Singh 15-3, 15-7.
In the Telegraph (loser’s) Plate final, TCT got past CitiBank 2-1. D. Roy and D. Gupta gave TCT the lead, getting past A. Sood and S Jaiswal 15-7, 15-4. S. Agarwal and R. Kochi made it 1-1 with a 15-8, 15-12 win over A. Roy-S. Banerjee.
In the decider, TCT’s N. Gupta and T. Moitra prevailed over S. Sengupta and A. Chakraborty 15-9, 15-11.
Sunil Bijlain of ITC was adjudged the best player of the tournament. He wins a free trip to Bangkok, courtesy Cox and Kings.
Mohun Bagan bowed to the brilliance of I.M. Vijayan at the Salt Lake Stadium today. In a National League match that the local giants dominated, the lithe Keralite sealed victory for beleaguered FC Kochin with a goal that that will be talked about in soccer circles for a long time.
The loss is a huge setback to Mohun Bagan’s hopes of lifting the crown. They are now two points behind Churchill Brothers in the title-race, with both having played 14 matches each. The two meet at the Salt Lake Stadium Thursday for their return clash, and Mohun Bagan’s job is now cut out.
The goal came in the 19th minute, off the first corner of the match. Tejinder Kumar floated the ball from the left to the far post, drawing Sandip Nandy away and the goalkeeper made the cardinal mistake of not dealing with the situation decisively.
Nandy backtracked but only got a feeble touch and the ball ran to Vijayan who, quite strangely, was not even marked on this occasion. It was then that the class of Vijayan was made known once again.
Vijayan hooked the ball from the goalline and, even as it bounced before him, let loose a half-volley with the right outstep. The shot was weighted to perfection. It went over the defender manning the near post even as it curled into the goal. Dulal Biswas hooked the ball back into play, but by then, the ball was already over the line.
Brilliant stuff! It was the defining moment of the match, for it inspired the Kochin players and carried their game to a higher plane. Mohun Bagan still dominated and created chances, but Kochin were always able to put a spanner in the works.
Mahesh Gawli, used intelligently by Kochin coach T.K. Chathuni to tail Joe Barreto in midfield, had a great game. The Brazilian, of course, was not quite himself today, hamstrung as he was from a thigh strain, but it should take nothing away from Gawli.
Jo Paul Ancheri was a tower of strength in the Kochin deep defence, using his strength and conception well to thwart the many moves Mohun Bagan still made.
His job and that of the other defenders, however, was made easy by Mohun Bagan coach Subrata Bhattacharya who decided to replace Igor Skhvirin with Dipendu Biswas at half-time. Igor was playing below par today, but Dipendu still is hardly a replacement for the skill and reach of the Uzbek.
Subrata also had a difficult decision to make before the match when he had to leave out one of his foreign recruits. He opted to axe stopper Sammy Omollo, and was unlucky that the move backfired. However, under the circumstances, he looked to have made the right decision.
Mohun Bagan can also blame themselves for the many chances they missed, the easiest one being squandered by Stephen in the second half, when he chose the wrong post while trying to head in from close.
There were several other occasions when the Kochin goal had a close shave, the last one coming seconds from the final whistle. Rather significantly, it was Barreto who, under pressure from Ancheri, failed to put a head to a wonderful cross from Dusit.
Mental blockworries EB coach
In Margao. a demoralised East Bengal will be looking to garner full points to change their fortune when they meet bottom placed Dempo tomorrow, adds PTI.
Nothing had gone right for East Bengal right from the start of the league. They won three matches, drew five and lost five to be placed ninth with 14 points from 13 matches.
To add to their woes, striker Bijen Singh and Rennedy Singh are not fit for tomorrow’s match. Dempo, who drew 1-1 against East Bengal in the away match, will be looking for the last chance to win for their survival from relegation.
With two straight losses, East Bengal coach Subhash Bhowmick is more worried about psychological problems than injuries. “We have nine matches, including tomorrow’s, and a win will be important for us as it will help our boys to get rid of the mental block and go on winning the remaining matches to find ourselves in the top order, ” Bhowmick said.
The girls’ doubles crown went to the Chinese pair of Shuai Peng and Xie Yan Ze. They beat the Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan pair of A. Shoupak and A. Kalsareeva 6-3, 6-0 in the final.
The first set of the boys’ final saw both teams hold serve which forced a tie-breaker. Kannan and Ravishankar opened up a 4-2 lead but Prakash and Xavier fought back to win the next four which gave them two set points. They squandered one but converted the other to take the set.
The eventual winners dominated the second set right from the start and broke Kannan and Ravishankar once each.
Allied Forces and Saddle Up are reputed stayers known to carry heavy impost to victory, while Alameda and Audible are the youngsters enjoying tons of pull at the weights. They stay the trip alright.
Terms-wise, Saddle Up is best but the travel fatigue and the new track may pose him problems. Ignore Alameda as his saddle sores have just been cured. Finally, Aslam Kader on Allied Forces and C. Alford on Audible may decide the issue.
Read as: Horse number, last four runs, horse name, trainer, jockey, weight & draw:
Bergamo Cup 2,400m (Cl IV—Rated 22-50)
1 1143 Assyrian [Vijay] C. Alford 60.0 1
2 1031 Supreme Desire [D. David] M. Kharadi 55.5 2
3 0313 Amerrico [A. Goenka] S. Shanker 51.0 3
4 0002 Consolidate [Bharath] M. Reuben 48.0 4
1. supreme desire (2) 2. assyrian (1) 3. consolidate (4)
Supreme Desire: Much improved since last win. May repeat. Assyrian: Well in at the weights but hardly reliable. Consolidate: May make the finish interesting.
Necessity Handicap 1,400m (Cl V—Rt. 00-28) — Indian jockeys only
1 0012 Global Harmony [Mujeeb] Manohar S 60.0 2
2 3313 Strides [Vijay] A. P. Singh 59.0 1
3 - 333 Angstrom [Bharath] C. Alford 57.0 7
4 0130 Go India Go [Jaiswal] A. Razzak 56.5 5
5 0002 Tribal Warlord [Rodrigues] S. Nasruddin 50.0 3
6 0403 Wild Dreams [Bharath] S. Rabani 49.0 6
7 0000 Lord Of The Manor [Rodrigues] Brij S. 48.5 4
1. global harmony (1) 2. Angstrom (3) 3. Strides (2)
Global Harmony: Ridden injudiciously in last start. Angstrom: May have to defy handicap disadvantage against Global Harmony. Strides: May place.
Princess Jani Handicap 1,100m (Handicap, 3-y-o only)
1 ---- Privy Council [Javed] N. Connorton 60.0 3
2 - - -0 Alborada [R. Alford] Rutherford A. 59.0 8
3 - - -0 Astrotot [Vijay] Surender S. 59.0 6
4 ---- Orbital Star [R. Alford] K. Kumar 58.5 7
5 ---- Relative Shade [R. Alford] B. Gurang 58.5 2
6 --43 Endless Surprise [D. David] A. Kader 58.5 10
7 - - -0 Alocina [Bharath] S. Rabani 58.0 9
8 - -00 The Stud [Rodrigues] S. Shanker 57.5 1
9 - -00 Act Of Kindness [Stephens] N. Akhtar 57.5 5
10 - -00 Oriental Pride [R. Alford] A. Merchant 56.0 4
1. endless surprise (6) 2. the stud (8) 3. oriental pride (10)
Endless Surprise: A good third in an exalted company. The Stud: Working extremely well. Yet may find ‘Endless’ a tough customer. Oriental Pride: Fit. May place.
Ming Dynasty Cup 1,200m (Cl III—Rt. 44-72)
1 4213 Amarante [Vijay] C. Alford 60.0 3
2 3200 Sky Hawk [Mujeeb] Sher S. 59.0 6
3 - - - 0 Free At Last [D. Byramji] S. N.Chavan 55.0 2
4 0440 Rule With Honour [Javed] M. Reuben 55.0 4
5 0024 Giltedge [R. Alford] Rutherford A. 54.5 1
6 1030 Klondyke Rose [Rodrigues] S. Shanker 54.0 7
7 0000 Royal Ruler [R. Alford] B. Gurang 53.5 5
1. Amarante (1) 2. free at last (3) 3. giltedge (5)
Amarante: A good third behind A Million Memories in last start. Free At Last: Brilliant in his morning trials despite a five-month lay off. Giltedge: May place.
Queen Elizabeth II Cup 2,800m (Terms,4-y-o & over)
1 2131 Allied Forces [D. Byramji] A. Kader 60.5 3
2 1012 Saddle Up [Dhariwal] P. Shroff 60.5 6
3 3132 Super Sunrise [Vijay] N. Connorton 52.5 1
4 1030 Alameda [D. Byramji] M. Kharadi 47.5 4
5 3223 Audible [Vijay] C. Alford 47.5 2
6 1214 Astrodance [D. Byramji] S. N, Chavan 46.0 5
1. allied forces (1) 2. audible (5) 3. saddle up (2)
Allied Forces: In rousing form. May defy the weight.Audible: Best of the youngsters in the field. With the pull at the weights, may do the trick. Saddle Up: But for the long journey and the new turf, could have beaten all. Alameda: Upset, if any.
Fair Haven Cup 1,200m (Cl V—Rt. 00-28)
1 - - - 0 Piece Of Cake [D. David] N. Bird 60.0 3
2 0424 Diplomatic Gesture [Bath] R. Gowli 58.5 1
3 - - - 0 Dancing Wonder [Vijay] C. Alford 57.5 4
4 0002 Double Dancer [Javed] N. Connorton 55.5 5
5 0440 Bold Times [Jaiswal] A. Razzak 48.5 6
6 - - 00 Darling Princess [Karki] P. Kujur 48.5 2
7 0000 Queen’s Theatre [Bharath] M. Reuben 48.5 7
1. double dancer (4) 2. dancing wonder (3) 3. queen’s theatre (7)
Double Dancer: Prepared in barrier-trial since she lost to Gul. Dancing Wonder: A speedy type. Working well and may extend the best. Queen’s Theatre: May place.
Canny Scot Handicap 1,200m (Cl IV—Rt. 22-50) — Indian jockeys only
1 4000 Constantine [Karki] P. Kujur 60.0 3
2 0112 Kargil Soldier [S. Ahmed] N. Engineer 58.5 6
3 4310 Heaven’s Blessing [Bath] R. Gowli 58.0 8
4 3102 Aliqa [Javed] N. Akhtar 55.5 1
5 - - 03 Winning Hand [Javed] M. Reuben 54.5 7
6 - -14 Aileron [Bharath] C. Alford 52.0 4
7 3241 Sixteen Sixtyfour [Vijay] M. Kharadi 51.5 2
8 2200 Jayaashva [Jaiswal] A. Razzak 51.0 5
1. Kargil Soldier (2) 2. Winning Hand (5) 3. aileron (6)
Kargil Soldier: Lost the race he could won. Give another chance. Winning Hand: Brilliant at work outs. Aileron: An unextended fourth in last start. Must do better.
Day’s Best: Amarante Double: Supreme Desire & Endless Surprise
2 pm: Tina’s Turn 1.Glencruitten 2. Laplander 3.
2.30 pm: Walk In The Clouds 1. Niveditha 2. Beverly Babe 3.
3 pm: Clyde Barrow 1. Set Aside 2. Star Blitz 3.
3.30 pm: Predicament 1. Grand Monarch 2. Aznu 3.
4 pm: Summer Mood 1. Ace Academy 2. Sun Reality 3.
4.30 pm: Stariano 1. Silver Partiarch 2. Winning Glory 3.
5 pm: Formal Gold 1. Special Quest 2. Sense Of Time 3.
5.30 pm: Shoorveer 1. Soul Of Gold 2. Amalgamate 3.
Day’s Best: Summer Mood Double: Clyde Barrow & Predicament