Bagan cruise into semis
Paes suffers another injury, out for 2 weeks
Richa betters 6-yr-old mark
5 modified cars in rally
Give swimming its due: Xavier
Drug tests on five swimmers
Paes goes down
Sourav not taking Bangla lightly

New Delhi, Nov. 6: 
Mohun Bagan 3
Mahindra 1
Salgaocar 0

Reaping rich on the efforts of the Brazilian duo — Jose Ramirez Barreto and Joao Dos Santos — Mohun Bagan rose to the occasion in style and almost cantered to a 3-0 win over Tata Football Academy (TFA) in their crucial Group 1 quarter final league match of the Allwyn Durand Cup football tournament today.

Needing a win by at least a margin of two goals to stay in contention, Barreto scored twice and Santos once for the Calcutta outfit. Mohun Bagan finished second in their group with five points from three matches and meet Goa league champions Zee Churchill Brothers in the semi-finals on Thursday.

Calcutta league champions East Bengal will take on their Mumbai counterparts, Mahindra United in the first semi-final on Wednesday.

Realising the importance of the match, Mohun Bagan started with the 4-3-3 system and got off to an exhilarating, attacking game. And they achieved their coveted objective of a two goal lead within twenty two minutes. The young TFA defenders were overwhelmed by the close control of the Brazilian strikers and shrewd cohesion in the Bagan midfielders — Basudeb Mondal, R.P. Singh and Amouri. R.C. Prakash also linked up effectively with Santos and Barreto upfront.

Exerting pressure from the kick off, Bagan missed two gilt-edged chances within minutes. Prakash’s prompt grounder was well saved by the impressive TFA custodian V. Satish Kumar. Minutes later, his another diving header went narrowly over the bar. And the TFA citadel finally crumbled in the 16th minute.

Roving midfielder Basudeb sent a measured cross from the right and Barreto scored with a diving header. Six minutes later came the much-needed goal and the lead.

The 26 year old new recruit Amouri sent a delectable diagonal through to Santos at the edge of the opponent’s 18 yard box. Santos played a quick wall pass with Prakash to evade the last TFA defender and then bulged the net with a waist high shot.

Bagan relaxed slightly but added one more goal in the 40th minute, as a safety measure. Getting a through from nippy Basudeb, Barreto beat his marker and angled his shot into the net.

The second half saw Bagan slowing down the pace, giving an impression that they were quite content with a 3-0 win.

It seemed to be a wise tactical step on part of Bagan coach, Subrata Bhattacharjee, as finishing second in the group enabled them get an extra day’s rest before the semi-finals and avoid a clash with arch rivals East Bengal.


Mohun Bagan: Rajat Ghosh Dastidar; Dulal Biswas, Mussein Mustafi, M. Suresh, Lolendra Singh (capt.), Basudeb Mondal (Rennedy Singh 77th), Amouri, R.P. Singh, Jose Ramirez Barreto. R.C. Prakash (James Singh 65th), Joao Dos Santos.
TFA: V. Satish Kumar; Amjad Ali, Prashant Jaggi (capt.), Habibur Rehman, Dipayan Mazumdar, Santosh Singh (Bhuvan Chand Joshi 17th), Avinash Thapa, Akbar Singh, Malsungthanga, Krishna Tudu (Subash Chakraborty 85th), Sayeed Rahim Nabi.
Referee: Rizwan-ul-Haq.

Venkatesh strikes

Mahindra United, on the other hand, defeated holders Salgaocar Sports Club 1-0 to top the group with seven points from three matches. Indian international S. Venkatesh scored the winning goal.

After Bagan’s triumph, Salgaocar needed a win to progress to the last-four stage. But playing methodical football, the 1998 Durand champions Mahindra United edged past their rivals effectively and snatched a 1-0 win.

In the 5th minute, left back Anthony Pereira surged down the left flank and sent a low cross to rightwinger Abhay Kumar. Being denied space, Abhay ran across the face of the goal and tapped the ball back to Venkatesh, who scored with a blistering angular right footer.


Mahindra United: Virender Singh; Ramesh Rajak, Christopher Kem, Tapan Ghosh, Anthony Pereira (Syed Hussain 89th), S. Venkatesh, Aqueel Ansari (capt.), Habib Adekunle, Abhay Kumar (Khalid Siddiqui 54th), Manjit Singh (M. Najeeb 60th), Abbas Ali Rizvi.
Salgaocar S.C: Juje Siddi; Augustine Rodriguez, Franky Baretto (capt.), Covan Lawrence, Franics Coelho, Jos Esteves (Climax Lawrence 68th), Denis Cabral, Gbenga Lawal, Dharamjit Singh (Domingos Vaz 75th), Bruno Coutinho and Alvito D’ Cunha (Climax Lawrence 68th).
Referee: B.K. Singh.

Calcutta, Nov. 6: 
Just when Leander Paes was beginning to prosper again, another injury has sidelined him.

Forced out of tennis for three months in June by a wrist problem, it’s the knees which are bothering him now. Paes, who did well in singles at the Charleroi Challenger last week — losing 6-7, 5-7 to Jan Siemerink in the semis — had to fly back to his Orlando base this evening. He was due to play with Mahesh Bhupathi at the Lyon Grand Prix this week.

“I have an inflammation of the tendinitis on both knees,” Paes said when The Telegraph caught him on his mobile at New York airport where he was waiting to catch a connectng flight to Orlando. “I don’t think I’ll be able to play in Paris (Masters series event) next week also.”

Paes, who played four singles and two doubles matches at the $ 100,000 Charleroi Challenger last week, felt that the hard indoor surface could have caused the problem. “I played some long matches and did a lot of running. Maybe, that did the damage,” he said before adding ruefully: “Fifteen years of toil is taking its toll.”

Does he fear the worst — pulling out of next month’s World Doubles in Bangalore? “That’s a long way away. Hopefully I should be okay by then. Let’s see what my doctor says in Orlando.”

For all those who prayed for Paes-Bhupathi’s reunion earlier this year, fingers will once again have to remain crossed.    

Calcutta, Nov. 6: 
Two more national records were rewritten today at the 55th national aquatic championships at the Subhas Sarovar pool. Delhi Police star Richa Misra earned her first ever national mark in the women’s 400m individual medley, while the Railway team bettered the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay mark.

Sixteen-year-old Richa, coached by the famous Khajan Singh Tokas, won her fourth gold today at 5:15.28, beating the existing national mark of 5:19.71, set by Karnataka’s Sajini Shetty in 1994. She was lengths ahead of silver winner Chitra K. of Karnataka who timed 5:26.23.

This is Richa’s third senior nationals. At the last nationals in Mumbai she had won six golds and was named Best Swimmer.

In the women’s 100m backstroke, just a race later, though, she could manage only a bronze, at 1:11.52. The gold went to Kerala’s Sumi Cyriac (1:10.88), with Karnataka’s Reshma Millet, Olympian Nisha Millet’s sister, following at 1:11.20.

“I was tired after the 400m and I did not get even 15 minutes’ rest after that,” said Richa later. “My limbs were not responding. Had I got a little more rest I would have certainly won gold in all my events here.”

The Railways 4x200m relay team was led to gold by the veteran Sebastian Xavier. The anchor leg was Akbar Ali Mir’s and the others in the fray were Pankaj Das and K. Suresh Kumar.

They finished at 8:15.60, ahead of the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) quartet of Martin Joseph, Benoy Sebastian, Nilendu Jena and T.A. Sujith (8:22.68).

Railways broke the four-year-old record of 8:17.80 set by Police.

The 31-year-old Sebastian was in a relay after four years. He is feeling the heat of competition after a long time, but this was his 72nd gold from 13 nationals.

Akbar Ali of Taldi, Canning, in South 24 Parganas, was the other star of the day. Today he earned his third gold of the meet (he had also won a silver yesterday) when he swept the field in the men’s 100m backstroke to close-finish for gold at 1:02.58. T.K. Senthil Kumar of Police won silver at 1:02.86.

The men’s 400m individual medley was won by Kailash Nath of Police at 4:49.15, and the men’s 50m breastroke, a close affair, was won by Harinder Singh, also of Police, at 30.71 seconds. Teammate Deepak Kumar, who yesterday broke the 100m backstroke record, came in second at 30.75.

The 4x200m freestyle relay for women was won by the Karnataka quartet of V. Sivaranjani, Ambica Iyengar, Amrita Chetty and Chitra K. at 9:21.42.

Maharashtra men shocked

In waterpolo, Maharashtra men suffered a shock exit from the group league stage, losing 5-10 to Police. This was the first time in 11 years that Maharashtra have moved out at that stage. Their women, though, won 6-2 over Manipur.

Bengal women whipped National Swimming Association 15-0, Puspa Banik scoring four.

In other men’s section matches Railways beat Karnataka 13-0, Services beat Manipur 11-2 and Kerala beat Bihar 10-4.


MEN — 400m IM: 1. Kailash Nath (Police) 4:49.15. 2. Rehan Poncha (Kar) 4:49.71. 3. T.A. Sujith (SSCB) 4:55.14.
100m backstroke: 1. Akbar Ali Mir (Rlys) 1:02.56. 2. TK Senthil Kumar (Police) 1:02.86. 3. Dipesh Bairagi (Rlys) 1:04.14.
50m breastroke: 1. Harinder Singh (Police) 30.71 sec. 2. Deepak Kumar (Police) 30.75. 3. Abe Jose (SSCB) 31.65.
4x200m freestyle relay: 1. Railways 8:15.60 (NR). 2. SSCB 8:22.68. 3. Police 8:33.84.
WOMEN — 400m IM: 1. Richa Mishra (Police) 5:15.28 (NR). 2. Chitra K. (Kar) 5:26.23. 3. V. Sivaranjani (Kar) 5:26.29.
100m back stroke: 1. Sumi Cyriac (Ker) 1:10.88. 2. Reshma Millet (Kar) 1:11.20. 3. Richa Mishra (Police) 1:11.52.
4x200m freestyle relay: 1. Karnataka 9:21.42. 2. Kerala 9:39.51. 3. Maharashtra 9:48.22.

Calcutta, Nov. 6: 
The Telegraph-WagonR Calcutta-Jamshedpur-Calcutta motor rally will be a time-speed distance affair, but the rallyists have put in that extra bit to ensure success.

Five competitors will be running modified cars in the 700km November 11-12 rally. They are Among Imkong of Nagaland, Mitil Chakraborty, Subhojit Kumar, Prasanta Paul and Debarshi Sadhan Bose. All are veteran rallyists and favourites for the Rs 2 lakh prize.

Bengal Motor Sports Club (the organisers of the rally) president Rajat Majumdar said the rally will have a ten per cent off-road route and “plenty of jungle roads.”

The maximum speed in the rally is 55kmph, and as such roll cages will not be mandatory for cars. All other safety precautions, though, will be enforced.

Maruti Udyog are promoting their new WagonR car through this rally, and a press release from the company said that it will be good promo for “India’s first multi-activity vehicle”.

IBP Red are also co-sponsors of the event.    

Calcutta, Nov. 6: 
Nearing the end of an illustrious career, Sebastian Xavier of the Railways (he hails from the Aleppey district of Kerala), has still to get the desired recognition.

He has won an immense number of medals in the pool, many at the international level, and has set several national records, but out of the pool, he remains unheralded, sort of.

Xavier has ruled the national swimming scene for a long time now. The on-going 55th nationals is his 13th, and today he won his 72nd gold at that level.

He has won 19 SAF Games golds (from five meets) and has even Asian Games (two) and Olympics (Atlanta 1996) experience to his credit.

He has taken part in two Asian Championships (in 1992 and 1996 where he finished a creditable fifth), and has 12 golds from two SAF swimming meets. He also has nine golds from three Asia Pacific meets.

Today, virtually disillusioned, he says not much is going to happen in the pool in this country till this extraordinary sport is given due recognition by the government and by the media.

“I remember, at the Asia Pacific meet in 1998 in Bangalore, when I did the 50m in an almost Asia-record time of 22.89 seconds, I was really excited,” he says.

“I switched on the TV to watch the 9pm news. What they showed was footage of Indian cricketers going back from their practice ground to the hotel. Not one mention of my feat. It made me feel sad, very sad. I too was performing for the country, and I too had done well.”

He believes this sport is neglected by the powers-that-be. And it is not a wild comment.

“Look at this. I know I am still good, but in the sprints, a 31-year-old expects to be shoved off his throne by younger talents.”

Sebastian, who can be said to be the best sprint talent in the country after Khajan Singh Tokas, though, has hopes pinned on youngsters like Deepak Kumar and Akbar Ali Mir and T.A Sujith. “They should really shine in the days to come,” he said, “but they will need the best coaching, the best facility.”

The 10th of 11 siblings (six sisters), he is still not thinking of retirement. He plans to go on as long as he feels he is good enough for the national level.    

Calcutta, Nov. 6: 
Drug tests were regularised at the 55th national aquatics meet here today. Five swimmers were tested today by the facility of the Sports Authority of India (Eastren Centre). The results are yet to be known, said Ramanuj Mukhopadhyay, secretary of Bengal Amateur Swimming Association, the organisers.

These tests, though, will not hold water in any international forum, the laboratory here being anything but accredited.    

Calcutta, Nov. 6: 
Leander Paes’ best singles run in months was aborted by Jan Siemerink at the $100,000 Charleroi Challenger.

According to information received here, Siemerink won the semi-final 7-6 (7-5), 7-5. The left-handed Dutchman went on to win the title, beating Thai Paradorn Srichaphan 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (10-8).

In doubles, Paes and Chris Haggard lost 7-6, 3-6, 4-6 to Petr Luxa-David Skoch in the quarters.

Paes’ singles ranking improved to 129 while in doubles he is 80. He will be back in tandem with Mahesh Bhupathi (No. 42) at the Lyon GP which began today.    

Calcutta, Nov. 6: 
The Test against India will be a first for Bangladesh and it will also be Sourav Ganguly’s first Test as India captain.

Sourav, having led India in 25 one-day Internationals, said Dhaka is going to be an entirely new experience and of course, a fresh challenge.

Sourav joined the Bengal Ranji Trophy players during nets at the Eden today and spent some time in batting, fielding and catching. There was, however, not much of bowling practice.

The India captain also explained a few points to Laxmi Ratan Shukla when the allrounder was batting.

“It’s going to be a big match for Bangladesh and another Test for us, but we are not taking them lightly,” maintained Sourav.

He said motivating the team and himself, against cricketing kids Bangladesh, would not be a problem. “I’m the skipper, so I have to ensure that the team is not short on that account.”

However, he avoided certain queries, which could give the team management some food for thought in near future.

Sourav refused to disclose how many seamers he would like to field in Dhaka and how many specialist bowlers he could afford to keep in the playing XI if he has to go in with six specialist batsmen.

Quiet welcome

Meanwhile, the chaos which normally welcomes Indian cricketers in the City of Joy was missing as some members of the team, including Sachin Tendulkar, checked into a city hotel this evening.

The people who assembled outside the airport to greet the stars were mostly curious onlookers rather than cricket fanatics and fell short of the huge numbers seen on previous occasions.

Sunil Joshi, Venkatesh Prasad and V.V.S. Laxman hadn’t yet arrived till late evening, though all are scheduled to leave for Dhaka tomorrow afternoon.    


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