Emotional trip, for right reasons
Local soccer season likely from June 7
SAI team wins big
Organised Goa fall to Kerala
Bengal wary of Maharashtra
Naivety behind Popat problems: Bisht
Fare ends on favourable note
Season toppers
Spice Boy may do the trick

Calcutta, April 19 
Perhaps, destiny made Steve Waugh take the first steps, two years ago, towards changing the lives of hundreds of leprosy sufferers’ children.

It’s destiny, perhaps, which ensured even a change in travel plans — necessitated by the ubiquitous “mechanical problems” — wouldn’t keep Steve away from tonight’s Calcutta Girls’ Foundation organised fund-raiser at Taj Bengal.

After a scandalous fortnight, cricket-related headlines should, for a day or two at least, now have a positive flavour. Leading the way will be Steve, already acknowledged as the sport’s Elder Statesman.

Indeed, Steve’s second personal and very emotional visit to the city (first after winning the World Cup) isn’t just a boon for the Foundation, it’s a shot in the arm for cricket itself.

Even if Steve didn’t plan it that way, he will actually be making a statement when he formally inaugurates Nivedita House, the girls’ wing at Udayan, tomorrow morning.

Some cricketers may choose to mix with bookies — sadly, Steve’s own brother has to carry that cross — but there are others who lend their name to ventures that enlighten, not shame.

Steve is always to be counted in the latter category.

Instead of arriving via Bangkok, Steve flew in from Singapore. Instead of landing around noon, he cleared immigration closer to 7.00 pm. Yet, having made the most of the Singapore transit-halt — “freshening up, to the extent possible” — there wasn’t a trace of jet-lag.

Despite over 30 hours of travelling (from Johannesburg), Steve was absolutely cool when he touched down at Dum Dum. “I’m happy to be back; happy to again be doing something for the kids... Of course, my work has been simple — all the hard work is actually done by others. I am no hero,” Steve told The Telegraph, oozing modesty so typical of him.

He added, as someone sought a comment on the Cronjegate fall-out: “I’m here for charity work...Please...”

Predictably, the world marvels at Steve’s on-field commitment. Extremely well-documented have been each of his 22 centuries and 8,384 runs in Test cricket (excellent 50-plus average). All of 6,712 runs in ODIs, too.

And, of course, Steve is only one of six captains to have lifted cricket’s most cherished trophy — the World Cup.

There’s the world record-authoring 13 ODI wins on-the-trot (set this season) as well and, under Steve’s captaincy, Australia are just one short of equalling the West Indies’ record of 11 Test victories in succession.

Clearly, few can have a more dazzling CV and much has happened between Steve’s last personal trip (July 1998) and now.

In years to come, though, this reticent New South Welshman’s numero uno achievement could well be Nivedita House, thousands of miles from his Sydney roots. Just as some feel Imran Khan’s top achievement is the hi-tech cancer hospital in Lahore, not one of his stupendous feats in amphitheatres across the world.

Both, obviously, don’t fit a stereotype.

To return to Steve, Sunday’s ODI in Johannesburg marked the end of a hugely successful, though demanding season, which began in Sri Lanka last August. Time, then, to quickly go home.

The days away from family, after all, have been innumerable.

Given this backdrop it’s only Steve, perhaps, who would still have kept a date with Udayan, Nivedita House and Calcutta.

However, Steve remains the quintessential family man —- in this case, the family does understand. In fact, wife Lynette is probab- ly just as immersed in Udayan and the Foundation as Steve himself.

Heroes, role-models, icons... All have an obligation which goes beyond their profession. For Steve, merely paying lip-service hasn’t ever been a way of fulfilling that.

Even though this is a private visit, a detailed security cover has been provided, so much so the Calcutta Police have assigned a Personal Security Officer.

It’s a sign of the times.    

Calcutta, April 19 
The new football season in the city will kick off with the McDowell Cup qualifying tournament, tentatively from June 7.

The main tournament, unofficially the curtain-raiser of the local season, is likely to begin on June 18, featuring six teams.

Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Tollygunge Agragami, Mohammedan Sporting and two qualifiers from a pool of 40 first division group A and group B teams will complete the field. The to- tal sponsorship amount is Rs 17 lakh.

According to IFA joint-secretary K.D. Pal, the qualifying meet, titled Celebration Cup in the two previous editions, has failed to attract sponsors this time.

As a result, the semi-finalists of the inter-district meet, who took part in the Celebration Cup in the last two years, will miss the action this year.

But Pal added that the IFA Shield clusters tournament will be revived after a gap of two years where district teams will be invited. The Super Division league is expected to begin by the end of June, the official added.

Football transfers

The IFA inter-club transfers started today with 402 renewing allegiance or switching clubs. Three players signed in favour of Tollygunge Agragami — Madhusudan Majumdar of CFC, Sandip Das of Mohammedan Sporting and Biswajit Chatterjee of FCI.

Among the Super Division clubs, FCI gain most, registering 20 players. Seventeen signed in favour of George Telegraph while Super League newcomers Salkia Friends gained three. Transfers will go on till April 27.    

Calcutta, April 19 
SAI Training Centre scored an emphatic 5-0 win over Howrah Union in a first division group A match of the BHA League today. Edmund Karketta and Poulas Soy scored two goals each and James Bara one. BSF South Bengal tamed FCI 2-1 with two goals from A. Purti. J.K. Soren struck for Howrah Union.

In group B, Belgachia United humbled Muslim Institute 3-0 with Subroto Chakraborty, Sheikh Azmat and Biswanath Deb Roy scoring. Khalsa Blues rode Manoj Mishra’s strike to beat Calcutta Parsees 1-0.

543 in 40 overs

North Zone scored an incredible 534 for four in 40 overs against South in a FCI inter-zonal match at Rajasthan ground. Kamaljeet, Navin Negi and A. Malhotra all struck centuries as their team roared to a whopping 457-run win. West posted a relatively sedate, eight-wicket win over Headquarters in another match.    

Thrissur, April 19 
Kerala 2-Goa 0

Kerala made their ninth entry into the final of the national football championships for the Santosh Trophy, beating Goa 2-0 in the first semi-final today. Kerala were up by a 42nd minute Ashif Shaheer goal, before Ignatius S. put the issue beyond doubt in the 67th minute.

Goa looked the more organised side and were playing a team game against the rather indivdual approach by Kerala. In the end, it was the handful who made the difference, helped along by I.M. Vijayan, playing the game-maker.

A light pre-match drizzle eased tension in the packed stands and following initial tentative probes, Jo Paul Ancheri had to make a desperate save off a Francis Silveira attempt and Kerala goalkeeper M.V. Nelson tipped over a Roque Barreto try. It looked like the Goans were taking control.

The Kerala understanding was still quite poor. The home side did make attempts, but were being quickly dispossesed at the rival goalmouth. Alvito D’Cunha was being carefully marked by Kerala, but the Goans’ obsession for marking Vijayan probably proved to be their nemesis. Playing withdrawn, it was easy for Vijayan to shrug off the policemen through longish feeds.

In fact, the Kerala half-line had depended on virtually one player — I.M. Vijayan. The speed of Ignatius S. and Ashif Shaheer proved useful. Added to that was the Kerala success in being able to control the pace of the game.

While the Goans were wasting opportunities, — Silveira shot saved and Mario Soares shooting over —Kerala were fast organising themselves. A generally dependable Goa goalkeeper Juje Siddi, was being battered once too often.

The Goan defence finally crumbled in the 42nd minute. Vijayan lobbed the ball forward to the top of the Goan box and Ignatius latched on. He slipped past a slow Anthony Perreira challenge, tapped back to the goalmouth where Shaheer jumped to connect. The ball took the side of his face and went in. Juje Siddi watched.

The complexion of the match changed after that. Kerala were attacking at will and all the Goan coach Markus Pachelo could do was bring in an ageing slow Bruno Coutinho in the attack. He failed to notice the crumble defence.

In the 67th minute it was again Vijayan, forwarding charge to Shaheer. Shaheer moved into the box and passed to Ignatius, who completed the task as Juje Siddi failed to read the line. It was all over for Goa.    

Thrissur, April 19 
Bengal coach Shankar Moitra is thinking ahead, thinking of Kerala or Goa, and how it could be tactically different in the final of the 56th national football championship for the Santosh Trophy. Yet, tomorrow, Bengal will have to overcome a none-too-easy hurdle in Maharashtra in the second semi-final.

It’s not complacency, rather confidence, but Moitra is afraid there could be a rub-off effect on his players tomorrow and that could be residual complacency and a recipe for disaster. “Maharashtra are not a bad side,” Moitra said. “Or they simply would not have reached this far. It is also true, that there are surely more than a couple of players in the Maharashtra side who could give us a run for our money and more.”

Moitra was, obviously, talking of Mohammed Najib and of Khalid Siddique and of Manjit Singh. Those are the so-called josh players of the team, and they run and run. Bengal maybe the big boys and their reputation possibly precedes them, but nobody probably told these Maharashtra kids all that, and that could make life a little more difficult for the champions.

Okay, so there is also the experience of Aqueel Ansari at hand for the Maharashtrians, “and he is giving 60-70 per cent here,” as Moitra has noticed. And there is also Naushad Moosa, a little way back, slower for his years, though easy still with his long free-kicks and his throw-ins. And though the defence does show those occasional chinks, there is a semblance of balance in the Maharashtra team.

Moreover, Maharashtra, unlike Bengal, with their baggage of reputation, have nothing to lose.

The Bengal side has been a trifle lethargic here, conceded Moitra. Could be the food, could be the weather, but more likely it is the future, the bleakness of the careers that the footballers are suddenly faced with.

Bengal players have sort of got used to the Rs 6-10 lakh payment region and their lives have adapted well. This year, with the payment crisis all over the country, and especially with the huge budget cuts in Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, nobody knows how and where they will be after they go back.

That inter-state transfers are now till the 30th of the month, keeps placement problems nagging.

There are too many STD calls going out from here to the clubs, not that many coming in. The Santosh Trophy, in the melee, seems to be getting a beating.

“I would like Basudeb Mondal to take up more load and give at least 60 per cent of what he can,” said Moitra. That way the coach is willing to take him off after the break as well. “And I know I can’t possibly push Raman Vijayan down to the game-making region.” Like I.M. Vijayan of Kerala, Raman has also undergone surgery that he has yet to recover from. He is slow, but keeping him around at the striking zone does increase the scoring chance.

Expect Dipendu Biswas, Renedy Singh and Raman Vijayan to start, and expect Dipankar Roy and James Singh to push initiatives. Moitra is likely to keep Khemtang Paite, because “he should be able to take in the pressure from the young hopefuls of Maharashtra.”

Maharashtra coach Harish Rao feels he can capitalise on the ‘nothing to lose’ situation well tomorrow. He wants to move the players en bloc and quickly.

No special strategy, no detailed blueprint, no major worries. If the complacency bug does not bite, there should be little problem for Bengal tomorrow.    

Calcutta, April 19 
Ignorance and lack of knowledge regarding what is permissible and what is not is the reason behind Aparna Popat’s three-month ban, thinks international Madhumita Bisht.

Madhumita, in the city with husband and former international Vikram, to attend a press conference hosted by the Badminton Players’ Association of West Bengal.

Popat, India’s top-ranked player, was recently banned for inadvertantly taking prohibited drugs during the Uber Cup qualifiers.

The ranking points she earned during that meet and in the All England after that were taken away, virtually ruling her out of the Olympics.

“Aparna can hardly be blamed as in India nobody, including the officials, has any knowledge of what kind of drugs are banned,” said Madhumita. “She was running a temperature and had a throat infection and took some pills. She even declared what she took.

“Even I, after spending 22 years in international badminton, don’t have any idea about what is permitted, so it will be extremely sad if India’s best player is forced to miss the Olympics for this reason.”

Players’ plans

The Badminton Players’ Association of West Bengal today unearthed some optimistic plans which they claim will help the standard of the game in the state. The BPAWB said it will organise four tournaments, including one all India ranking event.    

Calcutta, April 19 
Although the afternoon started on a wrong note, the parity — in the concluding meeting of the winter racing season today —was restored from the third race onwards when favourites took matters in their own hands. Starting with Ardon in the upper division of the Espoir Handicap, the public-money continued to channel in right direction until the penultimate event.

The afternoon’s main event, the Ardiles Cup, was apparently a repeat story — Jeweller, the 8-10 hot-favourite, finished last while his owner-mate, Allodium, galloped to his fourth straight win. But, the Vijay Singh-trainee deserves benefit of doubt. Had Jeweller been a genuine galloper, he would not have travelled all the way from Mumbai. Allodium, a Bharath Singh-trained four-year-old, was partnered by S. Rabani who also won the leading apprentice award.

Nevertheless, trainer Vijay Singh and jockey combined to notch up a fine double through All Heart and Annalee.    

Calcutta, April 19 
Although the 1999-2000 winter season was disrupted between February 23 and March 21 owing to labour trouble in RCTC, efforts of the club authorities to put the racing back to its firm footing was commendable. The re-start, however, saw the dominance of lesser fancied winners. Nevertheless, the following are the season’s toppers:

Top three trainers: Vijay Singh (49 winners); Richard Alford (30); Bharath Singh (22).

Top three jockeys: Cristopher Alford (38); Aslam Kader (22); Amyn Merchant (20).

Top three Horses: Legal Steps (Rs 21,67,585; Aloritz (13,86,144); Alternator (Rs 12,86,433).

Top three owners: Deepak Khaitan and Maj P. K. Mehra (Rs 63,31,087); MAM Ramaswamy (27,92,290); Deepak Khaitan (25,98,074).

Top three apprentice: S. Rabani (6 wins); Md Islam (5); Rutherford Alford (4 ).

Top three tipsters: Rabindra Nath Neogy of Racing Guide (458 pts); Kapil Bose of Bartaman (450) and yours truly, Pravesh ‘Star Racer’ Gupta of The Telegraph (448).

Top three juveniles: Affliction (3 wins); Fame Star (2); Annella (2).

Best performed horse: Allodium (winner of all four starts this season). RESULTS

1. Gridiron Handicap 1,400m: (5-3-4-7) Kinkozan (P. Alford) 1; Avionic (C. Alford) 2; Swingtime (Rutherford) 3; Solid Gold (Som) 4. Won by: Nk; 3-1/2; 3; (1-28.4). Tote: Win Rs 64; Place: 15; 12; 16; Quinella: 44; Tanala: 262. Fav: Avionic (3). Winner trained by A. Goenka.

2. Ardiles Cup 1,400m: (5-4-6-3) Allodium (Rabani) 1; Gentle Priest (Islam) 2; Citadel (Shanker) 3; Remember The Day (P. Alford) 4. Won by: 1-1/4; 3/4; Nk; (1-27.2). Tote: Win Rs 71; Place: 32; 29; Quienlla: 358; Tanala: 2,447. Fav: Jeweller (2). Winner trained by Bharath S.

3. Espoir Handicap, Div-I 1,100m: (3-2-4-9) Ardon (Rutherford) 1; Crucible (Surender) 2; Eau Savage (Shanker) 3; Ingleside (Upadhya) 4. Won by: 2; 1-1/4; 1-1/2; (1-8.2). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 13; 25; 15; Quinella: 113; Tanala: 310. Fav: Ardon (3). Winner trained by R. Alford.

4. Quincy Handicap 1,200m: (2-5-1-14) All Heart (C. Alford) 1; Sky Hawk (Yacoob) 2; Dancing Fire (Rabani) 3; Diplomatic Gesture (Shanker) 4. Won by: 2-1/2; 3/4; 1/2; (1-13.2). Tote: Win Rs 46; Place: 25; 168; 120; Quinella: 3,098; Tanala: 84,955. Fav: Cup Of Life (15). Winner trained by Vijay S.

5. Espoir Handicap, Div-II 1,100m: (5-3-1-7) Annalee (C. Alford) 1; Almond Rock (Rutherford) 2; Privy Council (M. Reuben) 3; Alocina (Rabani) 4. Won by: 2-1/2; 1-1/2; 5-1/2; (1-6.3). Tote: Win Rs 29; Place: 15; 14; 14; Quinella: 40; Tanala: 211. Fav: Almond Rock (3). Winner trained by Vijay S.

6. Phakos Handicap 1,200m: (7-4-2-6) Constantine (Smith) 1; Friendly Knight (I. Chisty) 2; Tejeni (A. P. Singh) 3; Bernadine (Islam) 4. Won by: 2-1/4; 2; SH; (1-13.9). Tote: Win Rs 26; Place: 10; 16; 31; Quinella: 41; Tanala: 430. Fav: Constantine (7). Winner trained by D. Karki. (Note: The winner survived objection lodged by the rider of the second placed horse).

7. Magnanimous Cup 1,400m: (12-3-5-1) Rheinheart (Shanker) 1; Hurricane Star (Smith) 2; Black Mane (Tamang) 3; American (Rutherford) 4. Not run: Run Ahead (11). Won by: 2; Nk; 1-3/4; (1-28.4). Tote: Win Rs 45; Place: 19; 42; 51; Quienlla: 304; Tanala: 9,599. Fav: Rheinheart (12). Winner trained by Bath.

8. Favorite Handicap 1,100m: (6-3-1-8) Go India Go (I. Chisty) 1; Noble Canonire (Rutherford) 2; Magic Ring (Akhtar) 3; Dizzy Diver (Amil) 4. Not run: Double Dancer (4). Won by: SH; 3-1/2; Nk; (1-7.6). Tote: Win Rs 89; Place: 24; 12; 22; Quinella: 60; Tanala: 1,185. Fav: Noble Canonire (3). Winner trained by Jaiswal.

Jackpot: Rs 20,693; (C) Rs 284.

Treble: (i) Rs 771; (ii) Rs 1,021.    

Spice Boy is taken to win the 1,400m Cursetjee Dhunjishaw Trophy in Mumbai on Thursday. The last run of the M. P. Jodha-trainee is best ignored. He had placed an impressive second to Columbus in his earlier start and on the strength of that run he is expected to strike.


3.30 pm: Sicalade 1.

4 pm: Monte Picaieo 1. Time To Gamble 2. Buttero 3.

4.30 pm: Fantasy 1. Infamous 2. Rosehill Gardens 3.

5 pm: Navroze Supreme 1. Zuhaak 2. Sacred Fire 3.

5.30 pm: Spice Boy 1. Leit Motif 2. Legendary Lover 3.

5.55 pm: Queen Of Romance 1. Boldwin 2. Great Magician 3.

6.35 pm: Arabian Fighter 1. Rumaan 2. Prince Of Zara 3.

Day’s Best: Fantasy Double: Navroze Supreme & Spice Boy    


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