No more than three points for Bengal
Sourav will do a good job, feels Ajay Jadeja
Howrah Friends champions
Gay Minstrel wins close finish
Legal Steps, No Surrender shine
Shiv Goel best in ABP sports

Calcutta, Feb 27: 
RAJASTHAN 377, 216/8 DEC.
BENGAL 284, 179/5

The game of glorious uncertainties sprang no surprise on the final day as the Ranji Trophy Super League match between Bengal and Rajasthan ended in a tame draw today.

Rajasthan started the day at 72 for three and lost two quick wickets but recovered before declaring the innings at 216 for eight, four overs after lunch. Bengal didn’t have the steam to score 310 in 46 overs for an outright win and settled for three points. The visitors earned five.

This was Rajasthan’s most profitable outing in the Super League this season, after collecting three against Delhi and drawing a blank versus Karnataka. Bengal, with eight from two, now require to win at least one of their two remaining matches to strengthen chances of making the knockout round.

In a match marked by Bengal’s inept bowling and fielding on the opening day, followed by a string of silly dismissals on the second, Utpal Chatterjee stood tall with a ten-wicket match haul.

With virtually no support from the other end, the left-armer captured five wickets in each innings. It’s unfortunate for Bengal cricket that youngsters are yet to learn from the discipline and accuracy this veteran impersonates. He has taken 42 wickets in six matches this season.

Srikant Kalyani, whose concentration and application should be exemplary for the “talented young ones” in the squad, also had a satisfying outing and completed 5,000 runs in Ranji Trophy. Other state players to have done that are Pankaj Roy, Arun Lal and Ashok Malhotra.

Bengal started the day well with Utpal Chatterjee having Nihil Doru stumped in the day’s second over. The skipper dropped Kuldip Singh in the next bowled by Sourasish Lahiri but that didn’t prove costly as the off-spinner dismissed the left-hander eight overs later.

Sanjeev Sharma and Saket Bhatia, however, prevented a collapse with a six-wicket stand of 90. Sharma, back in Ranji action after seven years, was the dominant partner, blocking with grit and punishing the loose ones. The former India medium-pacer, having scored two hundreds this season, struck seven solid fours.

Bengal decided to play safe after losing two wickets as Devang Gandhi and Kalyani had some useful batting practice. Both posted their second half-centuries in the match and Devang didn’t look as stiff as he had in the first innings.

‘Day I made difference’

Skippers Utpal and Gagan Khoda both felt the match swung Rajasthan’s way on the opening day itself when the visitors raced to 295 for three. “It was a big toss to win and our batsmen made sure that we had a substantial total to defend,” said Khoda, who didn’t deny that his team gained from some “loose” bowling.

“The wicket didn’t have much for the bowlers though there was some slow turn. But the bounce became quite predictable as the match wore on,” observed the Rajasthan skipper. He added the wicket of Syed Saba Karim was the real big one. “He knows exactly how to score on such tracks so his wicket was crucial.”

Utpal also felt that too many runs were gifted on Day I. “We are certainly one medium-pacer and a spinner short,” said Utpal who delivered 85 of the 204 overs Bengal bowled in the match.

Bengal’s only gain from this match, perhaps, was the temperament shown by Sourasish. The young off-spinner struggled with his length on the first day but came back to bowl a very good line after that.

Apart from bowling a fuller length, he was consistent with his line. The skipper, asked whether he has the faith in Sourasish to give him a longer spell in the next match, answered in the affirmative.    

Mumbai, Feb. 27: 
Both hadn’t shaved till late this morning. But while Sourav Ganguly still looked as if today was his 21st birthday (actually, he will be 28 in July), Ajay Jadeja had aged overnight.

Sourav, named Sachin Tendulkar’s successor last evening, had the look of a winner. Jadeja, who not only lost out on the captaincy but a place in the Test squad as well, had the demeanour of somebody marked for exile.

That fans still clamoured for autographs, at the Taj as he prepared to leave for New Delhi, probably made Jadeja feel a little better, but he may require time to recover from the selectors’-inflicted double blow.

Yet, Jadeja insisted he has taken it sportingly.

“You know last evening, when we were returning to the hotel, Sourav and I were next to each other in the coach and he casually asked whether I had any news about the captaincy. I told Dada not to worry as he was the only horse in the race…” Jadeja told The Telegraph.

He added: “I do believe it’s a good move and Sourav will do a good job. That he led India to victory (over the West Indies) in Toronto, at a time we were only losing, titled scales in his favour. What also made a difference is that I’m not a regular in the Test side… Probably, that made the biggest difference.”

Of course, Jadeja maintained he would continue to give hundred per cent.

“I’ll continue to play the way I do… I always give my best shot, I’m always involved… That I’m again out of the Test squad will, perhaps, spur me on even more… I’ll probably have to keep reminding selectors.”

Jadeja accepted he himself blew an excellent opportunity to convince selectors to think of him as a Test regular, by failing in both innings of the first Test. “Yes, I had a chance… I just didn’t capitalise…”

Handsome scores and Jadeja would also have emerged a stronger contender for the captaincy.

But is he terribly bitter about being dumped, again, from the Test side?

Jadeja’s answer was candid: “Look, I wasn’t in the original XIV and only came in because Mohammed Azharuddin got injured. So, I knew once Azhar was fit, I would have to make way… It’s disappointing, but I’m far from bitter.”

Even though Jadeja has been around (at the international level) from early 1990, he has only played 15 Tests. One could argue Jadeja deserved a better deal. Equally, just about every time opportunities have surfaced, he himself has muffed lines.

Asked about his future, Jadeja smiled for the first time and answered: “There’s a lesson in so many things… Sourav, who will be captain in ten days time, was overlooked for over four successive years… Then, look at Azhar. Some months ago, everybody was saying he shouldn’t be included. A few weeks ago, that changed. So…”

He added: “I’ll keep working hard, keep trying. After that…”

Incidentally, though Jadeja intends staying on with Jammu and Kashmir, he is being wooed by some of the other states. One of them, it is learnt, is UP.    

Calcutta, Feb. 27 
Howrah Friends today struggled to win the IFA Nursery Football League title, beating Central Calcutta District Sports Association (CCDSA) 5-4 via the sudden death.

In the final at the East Calcutta District Sports Association ground, the teams failed to score in regulation time as well as in extra time, though CCDSA had the major say in the exchanges. Even in the tie-breaker the teams finished at 4-4, pushing the match to sudden death.

Title for Mukesh

Mukesh Kumar outpaced the course with a brilliant five-under 67 on the final-day of the Rs 6 lakh Sir Padampat Singhania Open golf meet in Noida today. That gave the Mhow-based pro his third Wills Sports Indian Tour title of the season, ahead of Ali Sher and overnight leader Firoz Ali.

According to information reaching here, Mukesh aggregated nine-under 279, six strokes clear of runner-up Ali Sher (two-over today). Firoz had a bad ending, with three-over 75, thus finishing joint third along with brother Rafiq Ali and the current Order of Merit leader Vijay Kumar (two-under 286).

Mukesh won Rs 97,200 and takes over as new leader in the tour rankings. Ali Sher got Rs 67,200, while Rafiq, Vijay and Firoz got Rs 31,000 each.

Mukesh started with a birdie and sank a 10-foot birdie putt in the eighth. On his back nine he birdied the 11th and the 16th, before hitting a perfect four-iron shot for eagle in the par-five 14th.

Firoz and Ali Sher were trying to keep pace initially but fell by the wayside soon after.    

Mumbai, Feb. 27 
The S. Sunderji-trained Gay Minstrel scored a narrow victory over Run For Glory in the Martial Law Trophy at the Mumbai races on Sunday. C. Rajendra partnered the Sir Bruce-Legacy four-year-old to a neck victory.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Karibuni Plate 1,800m: (5-4-3) Winnington (Rajendra) 1; Kargil 2; Northern Angel 3. Won by: 3/4; 7-1/2; (1-53). Tote: Win Rs 32; Place: 18; 32; Quinella: 58; Tanala: 304. Fav: Jeweller (1).

2. Royal Song Plate 1,400m: (2-3-6) Berliet (Shelar) 1; Zephyr Bay 2; Sacred Fire 3. Won by: Nk; 4-1/4; (1-26.8). Tote: Win Rs 39; Place: 21; 14; Quinella: 34; Tanala: 288. Fav: Zephyr Bay (3).

3. Puffin Plate 1,000m: (2-4-1) Musical Melody (Belose) 1; Presidential 2; Razalin 3. Won by: 1/2; SH; (1-1.7). Tote: Win Rs 56; Place: 17; 24; Quinella: 174; Tanala: 482. Fav: Razalin (1).

4. Firecrest Plate 1,400m: (7-2-5) Venus (Prakash) 1; Millenium Star 2; As A Rule 3. Won by: 4-3/4; 3-1/4; (1-27.4). Tote: Win Rs 47; Place: 16; 30; 26; Quinella: 470; Tanala: 4,268. Fav: Knighted (1).

5. Martial Law Trophy 1,200m: (6-4-1) Gay Minstrel (Rajendra) 1; Run For Glory 2; Barrier Reef 3. Won by: Nk; 2-3/4; (1-12.6). Tote: Win Rs 29; Place: 17; 40; Quinella: 106; Tanala: 747. Fav: Spice Boy (3).

6. Para Brigade Plate 1,000m: (1-4-2) Impartial (Rajendra) 1; Ajinkya-Tara 2; Mister Money 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 3/4; (1-1.7). Tote: Win Rs 35; Place: 21; 22; 16; Quinella: 112; Tanala: 700. Fav: Impartial (1).

7. Upwards Plate 1,400m: (3-2-6) Immaculate (Rathod) 1; Bohemein Dancer 2; Sher Dil 3. Won by: Nk; Hd; (1-27.7). Tote: Win Rs 46; Place: 22; 33; 20; Quinella: 270; Tanala: 1,755. Fav: Peak Of Danger (4).

Jackpot: Rs 10,644; (C) Rs 1,009.

Treble: (i) Rs 1,123; (ii) Rs 369.    

Calcutta, Feb. 27 
Legal Steps, No Surrender, Audible and Adventure were impressive from among the following horses seen exercising yesterday morning:

Outer sand track

2,000m: Legal Steps (Amil) in 2-23 4/5; (1,600m) 1-51 2/5s; (1,200m) 1-23s; (800m) 56 4/5s; (400m) 27 4/5s. Moved well.

1,400m: Marimba (C. Alford) in 1-47 2/5s; (800m) 59s; (400m) 27 2/5s. Easy. Acadameus (C. Alford) in 1-39s; (800m) 1-0s; (400m) 30s. Good.

1,000m: Audible (C. Alford) in 1-9 4/5s; (400m) 28 2/5s. Note. Aquaria (Amil) in 1-15; (400m) 29s. Easy. No Regrets (Rb) and Prizren (Rb) in 1-19 3/5s; (400m) 32 2/5s.

800m: Sheerness (A. P. Singh) in 58s; (400m) 30. All Heart (C. Alford) in 54s; (400m) 26 2/5s. Fit. Adventure (C. Alford) in 52 2/5s; (400m) 26 2/5s. Impressed. Animator (C. Alford) and Crucible (Rb) in 59 3/5s; (400m) 30 3/5s. Both were easy. Bold Invader (Manohar) in 1-0s; (400m) 29 2/5s.

600m: Storm Centre (Engineer) in 42s; (400m) 27s. Easy. Tabasco King (Kujur) in 47 2/5s; (400m) 31s.

400m: Whirl Wind (Rb) in 30s.

Sand track

1,000m: No Surrender (Rb) in 1-4 3/5s; (400m) 24 2/5s. Moved well.

800m: Magic Ring (Akhtar) in 55s; (400m) 26s. Aristotemus (Amjad K.) in 53 3/5s; (400m) 25 3/5s. Easy. Privy Council (Akhtar) in 57 2/5s; (400m) 26 4/5s. Easy. Rock Falcon (Gurang) and Rising Chorus (Merchant) in 58s; (400m) 26 1/5s. Former a length better. Work Order (Yacoob) in 56 2/5s; (400m) 26 4/5s. Software (Harooon) and Diplomatic Gesture (Rb) in 49s; (400m) 23 4/5s. Former neck better. Both moved well. Imperial Choice (Afzal K.) and Island Empress (Shanker) in 52 2/5s; (400m) 24 2/5s. Former 4 ls better. Moved well. Supreme Desire (Rb) in1-0s; (400m) 29 2/5s. Vested Interest (Haroon) in 1-0s; (400m) 28s. Golden Heart (Haroon) and Strictly Royal (Rb) in 52s; (400m) 24s. Former easily a length better. No. 3 (Afzal K.) and Eau Savage (Shanker) in 50s; (400m) 23 3/5s. Former too Good.

600m: Defiance (Salim) in 43 2/5s; (400m) 28 1/5s.

400m: Classic Leader (Salim) and Time Of Times (Rutherford) in 26s.    

Calcutta, Feb. 27 
Marketing man Shiv Goel emerged the hero of the 39th ABP annual sports meet at Taltala ground today.

Goel was named Best Sportsman of the day, winning the 100m, 200m, 400m and 4x100m relay events. Peon Department won the tug-of-war.

Tirthankar Gupta of Scheduling was awarded first prize in Go As You Like, his daughter Tanya claiming the honour in Fancy Dress for children. In all, 950 took part in the 24-event meet.    


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