Coach Kapil may skip selection meeting
Tuomas Ketola cruises to title
Bengal settle for five points
India gear up for third-place finish
BHA 1st division from March 3
Title for Ghei
Allosaki has it easy in feature
Mumbai tips

 
 
COACH KAPIL MAY SKIP SELECTION MEETING 
 
 
BY LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Calcutta, Feb.19 
Till this afternoon, the build-up to tomorrow’s selection committee meeting largely had one point of interest: Will Mohammed Azharuddin, 37, make a comeback?

That continues to be debated, across the country, but the beginnings of a potentially intriguing development took shape late this evening. Holding centrestage, this time, is Kapil Dev.

The proverbial million-Rupee question now is: Will the coach be present when the selectors meet at the CCI tomorrow afternoon?

More than anything else, his absence could work even more to Azhar’s advantage. And, yes, it will leave captain Sachin Tendulkar ‘isolated’.

While Board secretary Jaywant Lele, contacted in Mumbai, informed Kapil “had been invited and would be present,” the coach, speaking from New Delhi, indicated he may absent himself.

“I have nothing to say... No, I haven’t decided on when to go... Is it so important that you must ask?” was Kapil’s initial response, when contacted by The Telegraph.

Significantly, the coach was somewhat vague on whether (as has been the practice) he had actually received the Board’s invitation.

“I’ll tell you when I... Yes, I did get a letter a few days ago, but you’ll have to ask the Board secretary about its contents...” Kapil remarked.

Clearly, the coach is anything but happy — and, it’s not limited to our showing Down Under.

It does appear Kapil has been more than just peeved by a calculated ‘leak’ from the Board, soon after the team’s return from Australia, that he may be excluded from the meeting proper.

That somebody suddenly became aware of some clause in the Board’s constitution, which didn’t talk of the coach being present at selection committee meetings, is absurd.

While the constitution has been around for years, the Board appointed the first cricket manager (Ajit Wadekar) as recently as 1992-93 and coach (Madanlal) in 1996-97.

Obviously, that ‘leak’ was one way of trying to get even with the coach, but Kapil isn’t one to forget being humiliated. Frankly, it’s quite a surprise he hasn’t reacted in a manner one would expect somebody of his stature to.

Of course, the coach may still board one of the many New Delhi-Mumbai flights tomorrow morning, but it will be foolish to think it would be the end of that ‘leak’.

To return to the build-up, the batting slots up for grabs would probably have been settled by this evening had Board President’s XI, and not South Africa, batted on Day-I of their three-day match at the CCI.

Now, the selectors and a string of hopefuls must wait. Besides Azhar, the list includes opener Wasim Jaffer and middle-order contenders Ajay Jadeja and Mohammed Kaif, the gifted U-19 captain from UP.

Even Jacob Martin who, essentially, is more suited to the sport’s longer version.

With Sadagopan Ramesh unfit, Mumbai’s Jaffer stands an excellent chance of making the cut. He could, though, himself queer the pitch by falling cheaply should the BP XI’s innings begin before the selectors meet.

V.V.S.Laxman, who scored 167 in his last Test innings (Sydney), is assured of one opener’s berth.

Though Nayan Mongia dropped a couple of catches, this afternoon, he is set to return for the first time since last summer’s World Cup.

Mongia’s expected comeback will also give the thinktank an additional option —- utilising him as an opener.

Among the bowlers, only Jawagal Srinath and Anil Kumble are certainties. Indeed, under acute pressure is Venkatesh Prasad, while strongly tipped are quick T. Kumaran and left-arm spinner Murali Karthik .

Sachin is bound to plug for Ajit Agarkar, but questions continue to be raised about his fitness.

In contention, too, is Harbhajan Singh.

With Mongia set to return and Azhar seemingly well-placed, both Kapil and the captain will have a delicate job at hand in the dressing room. It’s no secret both favoured others over Azhar and Mongia.

In fact, it will come as a huge surprise if Sachin doesn’t continue with his “be-patient-with-the-youngsters” line. Only, despite his own standing, he could find few takers for something openly embraced earlier in the season.    


 
 
TUOMAS KETOLA CRUISES TO TITLE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 19 
The singles final lasted 56 minutes, the doubles final just three games.

A tournament, already orphaned by the early exit of Leander Paes, closed today on a drab note. So much so that the best entertainment came via two exhibitions Paes played in.

Third seed Tuomas Ketola dismissed Andy Ram 6-1, 6-3 to clinch the Indian Oil-Servo ATP Challenger crown. Ram then received a French ‘bonus’ as Guillaume Marx and Gregory Carraz conceded the doubles final. Ram and fellow-Israeli Nir Welgreen were up 2-1, 40-0 when Marx couldn’t continue due to a knee injury.

A clear favourite going into the final, the 160th-ranked Ketola steered clear of the path fourth seed Mose Navarra had tread in during his match with the Israeli yesterday. Supremely fit and lightning quick, the Finn let his tennis do the talking.

Ketola, who will be 25 on Monday, broke Ram in the opening game. A fine defensive lob had Ram scrambling back only to send the overhead smash crashing into the net on break-point.

Ram landed a lot of first serves (70 per cent) alright but they didn’t quite have the thrust to test Ketola’s return. The Finn, in fact, feasted on Ram’s second serves, winning 92 per cent of those points.

The only time Ram held serve in the first set was in the third game. A pair of forehand winners gave Ketola the break (at love) in game 5, while in game 7 Ram dug his own grave with back-to-back unforced errors. In 22 minutes sharp, Ketola had gone a set up.

Realising the need to get aggressive, Ram charged the net more often. It didn’t always work, what with Ketola being spot-on with his passing shots. Even the tactic of playing drop-shots didn’t work for the Israeli as the Finn retrieved every ball.

Ram’s chance came and went early in the second set. He managed to capture Ketola’s serve with a freakish service return but then let the Finn break-back in the very next game. “I got a bit scared when he broke me in the second set,” said Ketola. “Good I broke back immediately.”

Ram, who had to go through three sets in all previous four rounds, found no way to push this one to a decider. Just about hanging on till the seventh game, the Israeli youngster cracked one final time in game 8.    


 
 
BENGAL SETTLE FOR FIVE POINTS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 19 
DELHI 236, 261 BENGAL 374/8 decl., 82/4

The frustration at not having managed to earn full points from the Ranji Trophy Super League opener against Delhi was writ large on Sourav Ganguly’s face today.

In his fourth Ranji match since his international debut and possibly his last this season, Sourav staged a dramatic turnaround in Bengal’s fortunes until a couple of dropped chances, some close decisions and a dour eighth-wicket partnership saw the visitors manage to keep their nose clean. In the end, he was left to rue the time lost due to rain and bad light.

Sourav’s second five-wicket haul (5/91) in Ranji along with Utpal Chatterjee’s four for 84 had left the hosts with a target of 124 in 13 mandatory overs. The ask proved tough despite the Bengal skipper opening the innings with Devang Gandhi.

Ajay Sharma had placed all nine men on the boundary ropes and the cordon was difficult to break. The draw was agreed upon with two mandatory overs remaining.

In hindsight, it appears Sourav could have put psychological pressure on Delhi by opting to open with Laxmi Ratan Shukla. The allrounder had hit a century against the same opposition in the Wills Trophy in Jamshedpur last season. Devang is not in the best of form and promoting Laxmi could have upset Delhi’s plans.

With five points in their kitty, Sourav is very optimistic about Bengal making it to the quarter finals from this group.

The mere presence of Sourav is always enough to kindle hope. His absence will alter equations. Sourav’s enthusiasm and attitude refuses to percolate down the order, Utpal being the only exception. Today Utpal used the rough at the Club House end to good effect, becoming difficult to negotiate.

Five quick morning wickets had raised Bengal hopes. Nikhil Chopra and Rahul Sanghvi’s 52-run eighth-wicket stand almost shut out their chances. Sanghvi was dropped on 7 and 11.

The Bengal skipper felt his achievements as a bowler is always a bonus to the side. “I’ve added an extra yard of pace but, more importantly, I’m now able to swing the ball at any time of the day and under any condition.”

Sourav was all praise for Haldipur and Utpal. “Utpal is the best left-arm spinner in the country. He bowled brilliantly on this flat track and against players who play spin very well. The difference in class was evident. Haldipur is also shaping up excellently. Both have the ability to represent the country.”

He felt Shukla and Sumit Panda needed to be “more disciplined” with their bowling.    


 
 
INDIA GEAR UP FOR THIRD-PLACE FINISH 
 
 
FROM NOVY KAPADIA
 
New Delhi, Feb. 19 
National badminton coach Syed Mohammed Arif gambled a bit today, resting both his unbeaten players — Pullela Gopichand and Abhin Shyam Gupta — in the semi-finals of the Thomas Cup qualifiers.

India lost 0-3 to China but the coach obviously wants his best players fresh for tomorrow’s crunch match versus Thailand — the winners will be the third team to qualify for the championship round in Kuala Lumpur in May.

Thailand adopted a similar ploy, resting Boonsak Polsana, Anupap Thiraratsakul and Kitipon Kitikul. They lost 0-3 to South Korea. China and South Korea thus qualified for the main round.

Arif felt it would have been impossible to overpower China, four-time champions, even at full strength. China, without two key players Sun Jun and former All England champion Dong Jong, have three players ranked among the top 20 in the world.

The Indian move, therefore, was wise as it would be important to have Gopichand and Gupta in good condition for the needle match against Thailand. Incidentally, 12 years ago, India had qualified for the final round by beating Thailand at the same venue. If they win tomorrow it will be their third entry to the Thomas Cup final round.    


 
 
BHA 1ST DIVISION FROM MARCH 3 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 19 
The BHA first division group B league starts March 3. Police AC play Khalsa Blues and Muslim Institute meet Real Sporting on the opening day.

Group A action begins March 8 but Mohun Bagan and East Bengal won’t play before March 13. Mohun Bagan meet Howrah Union and East Bengal face WB Police in their respective openers.

MCL golf meet

Mahananadi Coalfields Limited will host an all-India public sector golf meet from February 25-27 at the Mahanadi golf course in Burla, Sambalpur.

Any public sector company which is a member of the All India Public Sector Sports Control Board can take part. Each team can have three to five male or female golfers.    


 
 
TITLE FOR GHEI 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 19 
Gaurav Ghei today rode his 15th-hole eagle at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club to catch up with early-day leader Vijay Kumar and then sank a ten-foot birdie putt on the 18th to take the Rs 20 lakh Wills Masters golf title today. That ended Ghei’s 15-month title drought.

Ghei’s two-over 74 on the final day gave him an aggregate of one over 289. Vijay finished a stroke behind. Ghei won Rs 3,24,000.    


 
 
ALLOSAKI HAS IT EASY IN FEATURE 
 
 
BY STAR RACER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 19 
Displaying controlled acceleration, Allosaki had easy measure of her six rivals once the Steinbeck-Allessandrina filly took charge of the running 600m from the post in the 1,600m Police Commissioner’s Cup today. Cristopher partnered the the Darius Byramji-trainee. Police Commissioner, Dinesh Vajpai, presented trophies to the winning connections in presence of the top police brass.

RESULTS

1. Play Boy Handicap 1,200m: (2-5-3-4) Accentor (C. Alford) 1; Unlimited (Haroon) 2; Swingtime (Akhtar) 3; Knight Charmer (Razzak) 4. Won by: 2-3/4; Nk; 5-3/4; (1-21.1). Tote: Win Rs 29; Place: 15; 21; Quinella: 53; Tanala: 503. Fav: Knight Charmer (4). Winner trained by Bharath S.

2. Desiree Cup 1,600m: (1-3-2-5) Prince Of War (Merchant) 1; Artifact (C. Alford) 2; Amerrico (P. Alford) 3; Go India Go (Razzak) 4. Won by: 1/2; 5-3/4; Dist; (1-43.6). Tote: Win Rs 51; Place: 24; 10; Quinella: 35; Tanala: 102. Fav: Artifact (3). Winner trained by R. Alford.

3. Gudarz Handicap 1,200m: (1-7-9-3) Giltedge (Rutherford) 1; Crown Prince (Manohar) 2; Dramatic Turn (M. Reuben) 3; Heaven’s Blessing (Islam) 4. Won by: 1/2; 1-1/2; SH; (1-15.7). Tote: Win Rs 158; Place: 36; 19; 17; Quinella: 347; Tanala: 3,613. Fav: Silver Raising (2). Winner trained by R. Alford.

4. Paddy’s Darling Cup 1,400m: (2-4-1-6) Media Star (Merchant) 1; Answerable (Yacoob) 2; Rheinheart (Gowli) 3; Tabasco King (Kujur) 4. Not run: Armila (5). Won by: 2-3/4; 2-3/4; (1-30.1). Tote: Win Rs 16; Place: 13; 42; Quinella: 144; Tanala: 353. Fav: Media Star (2). Winner trained by R. Alford.

5. Police Commissioner’s Cup 1,600m: (6-3-5-4) Allosaki (C. Alford) 1; Prince Obolensky (Connorton) 2; Giorgio (Dalpat) 3; Falconhead (Amil) 4. Won by: 2-1/2; 3/4; 7-3/4; (1-41.4). Tote: Win Rs 17; Place: 11; 13; 23; Quinella: 16; Tanala: 94. Fav: Allosaki (6). Winner trained by D. Byramji.

6. Leprechaun Handicap 1,200m: (8-5-3-4) Compliance (Amil) 1; Santillana (Rutherford) 2; Arctic Fancy (Gowli) 3; Queen’s Logic (Rabani) 4. Not run: Private Lives (9). Won by: 2-1/2; Nk; 2; (1-15.4). Tote: Win Rs 17; Place: 12; 30; 24; Quinella: 91; Tanala: 678. Fav: Compliance (8). Winner trained by D. Byramji.

7. Bright Law Handicap 1,200m: (7-2-3-6) Kargil Soldier (Kujur) 1; Just Kidding (P. Alford) 2; Ocean Sunset (C. Alford) 3; Rule With Honour (M. Reuben) 4. Won by: 3-3/4; 1/2; Nk; (1-14.9). Tote: Win Rs 43; Place: 14; 34; 12; Quinella: 373; Tanala: 1,213. Fav: Ocean Sunset (3). Winner trained by S. Ahmed.

Jackpot: Rs 2,494; (C) Rs 189.

Treble: (i) Rs 1,174; (ii) Rs 132.

Barrier trial after the last race

Race track

2,000m:Legal Steps (C. Alford), Milano (Rabani) and Acadameus (Amil) in 2-14 3/5s; (1,000m) 1-5 3/5s; (400m) 25s. They finished in the order named. Legal Steps was 6 ls behind at the home turn and finished 2 ls ahead.    


 
 
MUMBAI TIPS 
 
 
BY HONKY DORY
 
 
An easy winner in her debut run, Six Speed may win the 1,400m Poonawalla Breeders’ Multi-Million in Mumbai on Sunday.

SELECTIONS

1 pm: Amber Brown 1. Traumerei 2. Fabulous Fortune 3.

1.30 pm: Squan Lake 1. Noble One 2. Thundering Bay 3.

2.15 pm: Fiery Angel 1. Rumaan 2. Wine ‘N’ Dine 3.

2.45 pm: Wild Heart 1. Blazing Flame 2. Tazo 3.

3.30 pm: Foretell 1. Altiama 2. Hope 3.

4 pm: Six Speed 1. Starry Scene 2. Allaire 3.

4.45 pm: Dhanadal 1. Always Up 2. Luni Junction 3.

5.15 pm: Mister Money 1. Heart Beat 2. Peak Of Danger 3.

6 pm: Maltese Falcon 1. Omerta 2. Say No More 3.

Day’s Best: Six Speed

Double: Foretell & Maltese Falcon

Saturday’s Bangalore Results

1. Infants Plate, Div-II 1,400m: (3-1-4) Almost Heaven (Marshall) 1; Altenburg 2; Andestine 3. Won by: 5-1/4; 1-3/4; (1-28.1). Tote: Win Rs 31; Place: 15; 26; 19; Forecast: 142; Quinella: 69; Tanala: 298 & 249. Fav: Almost Heaven (3).

2. Mudabidri Plate 1,600m: (5-3-2) Divisional (Srinath) 1; Emmenbru-cke 2; Innerleithen 3. Won by: SH; 1/2; (1-43.8). Tote: Rs 49; Place:19;16; 50; Forecast: 75; Quinella: 37; Tanala: 490 & 318. Fav: Emmenbruck (3).

3. Infants Plate, Div-I 1,400m: (1-7-11) Allocated (Shroff) 1; Step In Time 2; Tierrce 3. Won by: 7; 3/4; (1-26.9). Tote: Win Rs 20; Place: 13; 65; 24; Forecast: 244; Quinella: 190; Tanala: 741 & 295. Fav: Allocated (1).

4. Vibrant Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (6-9-8) Sniper Fire (Koch) 1; Hot Property 2; Cliff Side 3. Won by: 3/4; 3/4; (1-16.5). Tote: Win Rs 44; Place: 16; 18; 38; Forecast: 43; Quinella: 37; Tanala: 430 & 182. Fav: Hot Property (9).

5. Governor’s Trophy 1,600m: (5-2-3) Il Diablo (Gallagher) 1; Gullane 2; Royal Contender 3. Won by: 3; SH; (1-41.6). Tote: Win Rs 35; Place: 20; 32; Forecast: 138; Quinella: 139; Tanala: 211 & 64. Fav: Royal Contender (3).

6. Nagarahole Cup 1,200m: (3-9-7) Tempt Me Not (Rajesh) 1; Arnica 2; Acute 3. Won by: 1-1/4; Nk; (1-14.4). Tote: Win Rs 38; Place: 16; 31; 178; Forecast: 156; Quinella: 97; Tanala: 3,476 & 1,915. Fav: Tempt Me Not (3).

7. Kentucky Plate 1,600m: (8-5-1) Peace Desire (Shakti) 1; Mr Belvedere 2; Desert Lord 3. Won by: 2-1/2; Nk; (1-40.8). Tote: Win Rs 130; Place: 27; 39; 14; Forecast: 1,049; Quinella: 240; Tanala: 1,658 & 503. Fav: Desert Lord (1).

8. Vibrant Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (1-7-8) Like A Princess (Ramesh) 1; Sir Winmor 2; Glass Slipper 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 1-1/4; (1-16.7). Tote: Win Rs 47; Place: 20; 17; 61; Forecast: 128; Quinella: 62; Tanala: 891 & 587. Fav: Submarina (2).

Jackpot: Rs 12,941; (C) Rs 1,407.

Treble: (i) Rs 206; (ii) Rs 876.    

 

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