A messy affair and lessons to learn
East Bengal survive Tolly to enter final
Bagan take on JCT today
Bangalore, YRC post wins
Lack of match-practice a big worry
Auctioneer romps home
Alvarada, Deep Star shine
Cup Of Gold may strike

Calcutta, Sept. 13: 
It’s not been the most amicable of divorces and, so, the sourness won’t quickly be a thing of the past.

Yet, while Board officials may not be too comfortable with Kapil Dev’s three-page resignation (published in these columns Wednesday), pertinent points have been raised.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, the Board was “hoping” the national coach would leave “quietly.” It’s been a stinging sign-off, particularly the postscript bit about secretary Jaywant Lele.

Only, some of what Kapil put on record has been spoken about for long.

For instance, when Kapil talked about the need “for a semblance of professionalism” and introducing “fresh blood,” he echoed the thoughts of another icon — Sunil Gavaskar.

And, of course, the feelings of just about everybody except those who remain permanent fixtures in the corridors of power. Few deserve the extended innings they enjoy.

Last month, in one of his fortnightly columns, Gavaskar wrote: “... It is this (former Board presidents, for example, returning as representatives of state associations) that needs to be stopped.

“For, if the same people are going to be around, then how will fresh and modern ideas be brought into the game?”

But while Gavaskar stopped there, Kapil went two steps further.

“I would strongly urge the Board to look for dedicated people, rather than yes-men, which they seem to be in the habit of doing. These men could be doing what is good for official X, Y or Z, but will it benefit the game? I am not a yes-man. I have never been one...”

Kapil’s popularity within the Board won’t soar, but this damning indictment will stay. However, it’s been unfair on his part to suggest dedication is at an absolute premium.

While Kapil did get carried away somewhat on the dedication-front, he has been spot-on in “requesting” the Board “to be kinder to the next coach.”

Kapil put it thus: “In fact, I get the feeling I was being put down on every occasion. I have taken what came to me, but I would request the Board to be kinder to the next coach, and give him his due respect... This is not a battle of flexing our muscles.”

More than the immediate reaction this may evoke, Kapil’s sentiments will have far-reaching repercussions: Former cricketers who, in any case are reluctant to be associated with the Board, will be discouraged even more.

After all, if a Kapil Dev gets humiliated, how much better off can they hope to fare?

One anguish-driven Kapil remark, specially, will probably haunt many for seasons to come: “The game that gave me everything, has now taken its pound of flesh from me. I go without looking back and will be happy if the Board would not associate me in any way with its future plans...”

Kapil himself ended his resignation hoping “time will have washed away some of the wounds within...” The Board, too, is intent on now “looking ahead,” as a senior official pointed out.

In time to come, everybody could even acknowledge this parting was to everybody’s benefit. That it ended both an indistinguished stint and a relationship where shadow-boxing often took centrestage.

This messy chapter, though, won’t ever be erased — which is why there are lessons to learn.    

Calcutta, Sept. 13 

East Bengal moved into the final of the 106th IFA Shield today, getting past Tollygunge Agragami by a Sur Kumar Singh goal.

The red-and-gold brigade, however, failed to take advantage after their rivals were down to ten men in the 72nd minute of the match.

East Bengal enjoyed territorial advantage but could not create many openings. Even the 32nd-minute goal did not come of any planned or well-combined move.

Bijen Singh latched onto a stray ball near the penalty box and let loose a forward through for Sur Kumar. The overlapping side-back showed immense maturity and coolness in placing the ball past an advancing Prasanta Dora.

The TFA blue has been one of East Bengal’s biggest gains this season and he once more impressed with his anticipation and positional play.

Tollygunge also got their chances early on. In fact, the wily Shasthi Duley combined well with Abayomi Felix and Abdulateef Seriki to expose the chinks in the East Bengal defence.

Midway through the opening session, Duley moved down the middle, dodged past a couple of defenders and let loose a volley which kissed the cross piece before going out of harm’s way. Next minute, a Sandip Das shot dipped dangerously before sailing over.

In the 27th minute, Duley got into the act again. Jackson Egygopong and Ratan Singh found it tough to come to terms with Duley’s body feints as he placed the ball on a platter for Seriki. The Nigerian’s shot missed the target by a whisker.

But all their heroics vanished once East Bengal took the lead and decided to keep Duley under close marking. To make matters worse, Felix was substituted in the 63rd minute. Then Seriki was given marching orders by the referee for an improper tackle on Dipendu Biswas. It robbed their forwardline of the thrust that had seen Tollygunge flourish.

With rival forays drying up, the going suddenly turned out to be easy for East Bengal. Suley Musah’s debut this season may not have been dramatic but he constantly kept the Tollygunge defence under threat with his movements down the right.

Musah nearly scored when Dora fumbled in his effort to collect a cross from the right in the closing stages. Substitute Trijit Das, who was standing nearby, also failed to nod into an empty goal.


EAST BENGAL: Sangram Mukherjee, Sur Kumar Singh, Dipak Mondal, Jackson Egygopong, Ratan Singh, Isiaka Aowamy (Suley Musah, 56), Tushar Rakshit (Anit Ghosh, 83), Chandan Das, Carlton Chapman (Trijit Das, 61), Dipendu Biswas, Bijen Singh.

TOLLYGUNGE AGRAGAMI: Prasanta Dora, Temjen Kibang, Satish Bharti, Prathasarathi Dey, Debashish Pal Chowdhury, Napolian Singh (Samson Singh, 73), Bhabani Mohanty, Sandip Das, Shasthi Duley, Abayomi Felix (Shankarlal Chakraborty, 63), Seriki Abdulateef.

Referee: Binod Singh (Bihar).    

Calcutta, Sept. 13: 
Mohun Bagan take on JCT in the second semi-final of the IFA Shield at the Salt Lake Stadium tomorrow.

JCT, who have no major fitness worries, are aiming to make use of the chinks in the Mohun Bagan defence in their effort to book a berth in the final. The home team’s fragile defence has been a constant worry for coach Subrata Bhattacharya and it could turn out to be a major deterrent in pursuance of bigger goals.

The two sidebacks have never looked dependable and JCT are banking on spreading the game to the wings to create the openings.

Upfront, Mohun Bagan’s hope this season Jose Ramirez Barreto will have a lot of hard work to do. In the absence of adquate support — Joao Dos Santos’ inconsistency is a major worry while Rennedy Singh and R.C. Prakash have failed to click at the right time — he will once more have to play the saviour’s role to perfection.    

Calcutta, Sept. 13: 
Bangalore will meet Young Rugby Club (YRC) in the Losers’ Plate final of theFamous Grouse All India and South Asia rugby meet.

In the semi-finals today, Bangalore beat Delhi 20-7 while Young Rugby overcame Chennai Cheetahs 24-5.

BNR beat FCI 1-0

BNR defeated FCI by a P. Tulsi Rao goal in the Super Division return-leg for the last five teams today. The other tie between Salkia Friends and SAIL was abandoned after the first half because of a downpour.

In first division group A action, CPT beat Kidderpore 1-0.    

It’s Olympics time again, and all the world’s attention will be focussed on Sydney. Most Indians will, of course, have their eyes trained on two events there. One of these is tennis, or more specifically, the doubles combination of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes. The other, as always, is hockey.

After winning six successive hockey golds — 1928, 1932, 1936, 1948, 1952, 1956 — and then adding another in 1964, India slumped into a lean patch and never quite came out of it.

The last time we won a gold in the event was 20 years ago, in Moscow. To me, that was a devalued piece of the precious metal as most of the top hockey-playing nations didn’t participate.

The Asian Games gold in Bangkok a couple of years ago and the recent four-nation tournament triumph have resurrected interest in the game. It’s no wonder then that the nation is once again looking to the hockey team to bring home some medal or the other. Whether this team is capable of living upto such high expectations we’ll have to wait and see.

I was with the team as manager at the Azlan Shah Trophy in Kuala Lumpur last February. All top teams, barring The Netherlands and Australia, were there. Though India managed only a third position, it was heartening to see our boys playing good, cohesive hockey in each and every match. The team also showed some rare fighting spirit.

We have since been performing pretty consistently. Given today’s Olympic format, the team cannot but be consistent. The two-tier system, comprising of the round-robin league and then the knockout, makes it very difficult for a team playing well one day and miserably the other to make progress. The Indians, who had been reeling under this imperfection, have rectified it somewhat.

The team left for Australia on August 17, a month before they play their first match in the Games. Prior to their departure they had been training for about one-and-a-half months and, as per reports from the Sports Authority of India and its medical experts, the fitness level is at the highest. However, what the boys really missed out on were matches against top-class opposition after their return from the four-nation meet in Sydney.

In my report after the Azlan Shah meet, I had said that the team must play six to seven tough matches with international sides before the Olympics. The boys could have at least played against top Indian sides, like Air-India, Punjab Police, Punjab & Sind Bank. Even that would have done them good.

However, for reasons best known to the Indian Hockey Federation, Egypt and then Russia reverted decisions to visit our country. The IHF could not even arrange a match with the junior national team. This is extremely unfortunate.

In 1964, before reaching Tokyo, we played in New Zealand and Malaysia a month ahead of the Olympics. We benefited immensely from those visits.

Returning to the present, let me make it clear that the team chosen for Sydney consists of the best available talent in the country, though the selection of one or two youngsters may turn out to be a miscalculation.

Goalkeeping has been a problem area for Indian hockey. It’s been a long time since a goalkeeper has played a big role in winning us an international match. Jude Menezes is the best choice, though I don’t expect anything extraordinary from him. Youngster Devesh Chauhan will be playing his first major tournament and we’ll have to see how he shapes up should his services be required.

Dilip Tirkey and Baljit Singh Dhillon have been taking the penalty corners well, but remain immensely predictable with their hits. The opposition defence and the goalie, who will have done their homework, will know what to expect if Tirkey keeps hitting them along the ground and Dhillon decides to only scoop and flick.

Tirkey and Dinesh Nayak, the two full-backs, are good, the former being excellent when it comes to tackling. However, they tend to get caught in a parallel line and indulge in wild hitting on occasions. They also fail to provide adequate back-up for the half-backs, and this leaves huge holes in midfield when the team is out on an attack.

The half-line, manned by Baljit Saini, Mohammed Riaz, Thirumalvalavan and captain Ramandeep Singh, will also have to do better. During the Azlan Shah meet, I noticed that the two centre-halves — Riaz and Thiru — were not backing the forwards properly. Consequently, gaps of 20-30 metres were being created. The other thing that I saw was whenever the forwards lost possession, a counter-attack developed which was rarely well thwarted.

At the individual plane, they are all very talented players — Saini being very good in attack — but they will have to show better teamwork.

In the forward-line, Mukesh Kumar was not fully fit during the Kuala Lumpur meet but seems to have recovered and is playing well now. The spearheads of our attack are veteran Dhanraj Pillay and Dhillon. Pillay, I have observed, is a feared man throughout the world. Though he can get a trifle too individualistic at times, on his day he can beat any defence.

Dhillon, in my opinion, is the most skilful player in the team, and I wouldn’t think twice in comparing him with our greats of the past. What he needs to overcome is the tendency to over-dribble and lose the ball in the process, bringing pressure on his team.

The other three forwards — Dinesh Thakur, Gagan Ajit Singh and Sameer Dad — are all capable scorers. Thakur and Dad are very good on the left and Gagan can serve as a replacement for Pillay if needed. The team, however, has no replacement for Mukesh on the right.

Indian teams in recent times have had this tendency of letting in early goals, and thus inviting immense pressure. The boys will have to be on their toes this time from the very first whistle.

India are in pool B with Australia, Korea, Spain, Poland and our so-called bogey-team Argentina. Australia should be expected to feed off home support and qualify. For the second semi-final spot, the fight will be between Korea, Spain and India. So, beating Argentina and Poland is a ‘must’. In the remaining three games, we have to squeeze out at least another win and a draw.

There are a total of 15 points to play for, with a team getting three for a win and one for a draw, unlike previous years when there were two for a win and one for a draw. A team will require a minimum of 10-11 points to qualify.

In pool A, The Netherlands look sure to qualify with Pakistan, Germany and England fighting it out for the other place. Pakistan have been reeling under turmoil at home and, in Sydney, they will surely will be missing the dominance that Shahbaz and a few others used to bring. They, however, have a trump card in penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas, who has already proved his mettle in the qualifying meet in Osaka. In fact, the group may witness a battle between penalty corner specialists, with Englishman Calum Giles, German Christoph Bechmann and a few others providing the competition for Abbas.

I see the gold going either to The Netherlands or to Australia, but you can never rule out an upset. If that is the case, I hope, like millions of my countrymen, it’s scripted by India.    

Calcutta, Sept. 13: 
Trainers Vijay Singh and Daniel David shared the spoils, with a brace apiece, for their common patron Deepak Khaitan today. Vijay targeted the trophy events, more importantly the feature, the Green Sari Cup which he lifted through Auctioneer who beat the Richard Alford’s odds-on favourite Optimum Choice. The later was, however, unlucky to have burst a blood vessel. Vijay’s other winner was Alsheim in the Star Flame Cup.

Daniel started on a wrong foot winning the 1,400m Noble Fairy Handicap with his lesser fancied charge Abstract won from the stable fancy Sharp Sensation. The hot-favourite Endless Surprise helped Daniel win the Whiplash Cup. While Abstract was partnered by Md Amil, Cristopher Alford booted home the other three winners.


1. Star Flame Cup 1,200m: (2-3-4-1) Alsheim (C. Alford) 1; Eau Savage (Islam) 2; Airs Image (Gowli) 3; Regal Parade (Upadhya) 4. Won by: Dist; 3/4; Dist; (1-18.6). Tote: Win Rs 13; Place: 13; 13; Quinella: 17; Tanala: 20. Fav: Alsheim (2). Winner trained by Vijay S.

2. Noble Fairy Handicap 1,400m: (5-1-4-7) Abstract (Amil) 1; Sharp Sensation (C. Alford) 2; Sky Command (Manohar) 3; Black Mane (Haroon) 4. Won by: 3-1/4; 1/2; Nk; (1-29.6). Tote: Win Rs 108; Place: 28; 15; 12; Quinella: 209; Tanala: 936. Fav: Sky Command (4). Winner trained by D. David.

3. Green Sari Cup 1,100m: (5-2-1-4) Auctioneer (C. Alford) 1; Optimum Choice (Gowli) 2; Kansai (Rabani) 3; Best In Show (K. Kumar) 4. Won by: 1-3/4; SH; 2-1/2; (1-11.2). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 14; 11; Quinella: 15; Tanala: 37. Fav: Optimum Choice (2). Winner trained by Vijay S.

4. Pussy Galore Handicap 1,400m: (4-3-6-1) No Regrets (Manohar) 1; Ashbury (C. Alford) 2; Avionic (A. P. Singh) 3; American (Rutherford) 4. Won by: 3/4; 3-3/4; 1-1/2; (1-31.4). Tote: Win Rs 26; Place: 16; 13; Quinella: 17; Tanala: 121. Fav: Ashbury (3). Winner trained by Javed K.

5. Whiplash Cup 1,100m: (1-3-6-5) Endless Surprise (C. Alford) 1; Friendly Knight (Bird) 2; Armila (Surender) 3; Crest Star (Yasin) 4. Won by: 2-3/4; 1-1/4; 1-1/4; (1-13.1). Tote: Win Rs 12; Place: 11; 50; Quinella: 70; Tanala: 208. Fav: Endless Surprise (1). Winner trained by D. David.

6. Golden Beam Handicap 1,100m: (1-7-5-2) Storm Trooper (Amjad) 1; Artifact (C. Alford) 2; Silver Raising (Akhtar) 3; Kargil Soldier (Rutherford) 4. Won by: 1-3/4; 1/2; 1-1/4; (1-12.6). Tote: Win Rs 28; Place: 14; 14; 22; Quinella: 30; Tanala: 186. Fav: Storm Trooper (1). Winner trained by D. Karki.

Jackpot: Rs 2,662; (C) Rs 212.

Treble: (i) 175; (ii) Rs 98.    

Calcutta, Sept. 13: 
Alvarada and Deep Star were impressive from among the following horses seen exercising today morning:

Outer sand track

1,600m: Little Boy Blue (Brij S.) in 2-9s; (400m) 29s.

1,200m: Aloritz (C. Alford) and Alembic (Rb) in 1-36s; (400m) 28s. Former a length better. Alastar (C. Alford) and Special Sovereign (A. P. Singh) in 1-35s; (400m) 27s. Both level.

800m: Tsaynen Blue (Connorton) and The Stud (Upadhya) in 1-0s; (400m) 27 2/5s. Both moved well as they levelled. Magnifico (C. Alford) and Sixteen Sixtyfour (A. P. Singh) in 1-4s; (400m) 29s. Former a head better.

Sand track

1,600m: Deep Star (Amil) and Alvarada (C. Alford) in 1-55s; (400m) 26s. Both handy.

800m: Mameena (Connorton) in 54s; (400m) 24s. Moved well. Golden Express (P. Alford) and Royal Ruler (Rutherford) in 58s; (400m) 26s. Both were level and easy.

400m: Tequila Shot (Rb) in 25s.

Barrier trial after the last race Monsoon track

1,200m: Tanganyika (Haroon) and Time Of Times (Amjad) in 1-22s; (400m) 26s. Former was easily 8 ls better.    

Mysore, Sept. 13: 
An easy fourth to Native Tactics in her previous start, the Ponnappa-ward, Cup Of Gold with C. Ruzaan in the saddle, may be given another chance to prove her worth when she takes on seven rivals in the 1,600m New Indian Express Gold Cup, tomorrow’s feature event. The race is for horses rated 40 and above

The Bold Russian-Asian Lady daughter may face stiff opposition from The Royals and La Unique who are working well in trials.


2.15: Amalgamate 1. Dream Come True 2. Speedy Idea 3.

2.45 pm: Opalette 1. Fighter’s World 2. Silver Warakh 3.

3.15 pm: Along All 1. Fereneze 2. Dynamic Chief 3.

3.45 pm: Andestine 1. Mehvish 2. Surf Rider 3.

4.15 pm: Cup Of Gold 1. The Royals 2. La Unique 3.

4.45 pm: A For Alfa 1. Skipping Away 2. Persian Sky 3.

5.15 pm: King’s Common 1. Genting Highlands 2. Almaz 3.

Day’s Best: Along All Double:Andestine & Cup Of Gold.    


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