East Bengal crash out
Sujith ends Xavier era in 50 freestyle
Bagan toy with defensive options
Jerome Golmard to defend title
India set to field three debutants
1st-innings lead for Bengal
BCCI’s mixed feelings as Dhindsa departs
Calcutta Races/ Singh brothers at advantage

New Delhi, Nov. 8: 
E. BENGAL 6 (1)

Fortune did not favour the brave in the Allwyn Durand Cup semi-final today. A gallant East Bengal equalised in the third minute of injury time, converted all five kicks in the penalty shoot-out but still lost.

Falguni Dutta’s feeble attempt in the sudden-death was saved and substitute Khalid Siddiqui scored for Mahindra United.

The Mumbai league champions entered the Durand final for the third time, prevailing 7-6 after the penalty shoot-out. The only setback for Mahindra was the loss of stopper Tapan Ghosh who fractured his arm after a fall.

Falguni’s Durand jinx thus continued. He had missed the crucial last shot against Salgaocar in the 1999 final as the Goan team won 3-2 on tie-breaker. Today, he stepped up to take the first shot in the sudden-death, lost his nerve and his weak attempt was easily saved by India goalkeeper Virender Singh.

Suley Mussah, Chandan Das, Bijen Singh, Ratan Singh and Jackson Egygpong had all converted their shots for the Calcutta league champions. Mahindra replied through Naushad Moosa, Mohammed Najeeb, S. Venkatesh, Abbas Ali Rizvi and Christopher Kem.

Earlier, Rizvi put Mahindra ahead against the run of play in the tenth minute and East Bengal equalised through Isiaka in the dying minutes.

It was a match full of drama, passion and goal-mouth excitement. East Bengal started in a 4-5-1 format. Sheikh Sanjib was the lone man upfront, with Isiaka Aywoemi moving up in support. Coach Syed Nayeemuddin relegated an off-form Bijen Singh to the bench. But Nayeem’s plan did not click. The ploy to use Sanjib’s speed misfired as the frail striker was frequently hustled off the ball. Bijen had to be introduced after 30 minutes.

Both teams relied on speed to launch their early attacks. East Bengal’s promising right-back Sur Kumar Singh was initially often caught out of position and this led to the first goal.

In the 10th minute, the crafty Rizvi floated in a measured cross from the left. Manjit Singh darted into the space behind Jackson and headed into the net. A misunderstanding between goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee and Jackson resulted in the goal. Sangram made no attempt to intercept the cross as he thought Jackson would deal with the aerial ball.

Till the end of the first half, there was no dearth of action. Isiaka surged past Christopher and shot goalwards but Virender made a timely save. Chandan shot over Ratan’s perfect reverse pass. Mahindra retaliated as Manjit narrowly headed over Shamsi Reza’s left-flank cross.

In a five-minute blitz, East Bengal missed three chances. In the 27th minute, Isiaka dribbled past marker Ramesh Rajak and shot goalwards. The rebound came to Sanjib who shot into the goalkeeper from hand-shaking distance.

A minute later, Sur Kumar overlapped and unleashed a stinging left-footer which crashed into the crosspiece. Bijen, on his first touch, sent a delectable diagonal cross to an unmarked Carlton Chapman on the right. Chapman trapped but shot over from the edge of the six-yard box. Nayeem felt these misses were the turning point of the match.

Sadly for East Bengal, Tushar Rakshit was not at his best and could not release the passes he is famous for.

East Bengal owed the equaliser to Ratan. The left-back, while trying to cut in, was body-checked by Rizvi. He took the free-kick and found Mussah who for once managed to flick to Isiaka who bulged the net with a rising right-footer.


MAHINDRA UNITED: Virender Singh; Ramesh Rajak, Christopher Kem, Tapan Ghosh (Naushad Moosa, 12), Anthony Pereira, S. Venkatesh, Aqueel Ansari, Habib Adekunle, Shamsi Reza (Khalid Siddiqui, 68), Manjit Singh (Mohammed Najeeb, 75), Abbas Ali Rizvi.

EAST BENGAL: Sangram Mukherjee; Sur Kumar Singh, Jackson Egygpong, Dipak Mondal, Ratan Singh, Carlton Chapman (Tushar Rakshit, 40), Suley Mussah, Chandan Das, Dipankar Roy (Falguni Dutta, 62), Isiaka Aywoemi, Sheikh Sanjib (Bijen Singh, 30).

Referee: S.M. Balu    

Calcutta, Nov. 8: 
Sebastian Xavier’s 11-year reign as the country’s fastest swimmer ended today when Thankappan Ambikadevi Sujith snatched the 50m freestyle gold in a close finish at the 55th senior national aquatic championship today.

The Trivandrum-based Sujith, a naik subedar in the Army, clocked 24.60 seconds. Xavier came in at 24.66. Karnataka’s Reshma Millet emerged the fastest woman at 28.15.

Richa Mishra grabbed her seventh gold with a national record — her second of the meet — of 2:49.88 in 200 breastroke. She erased Sajini Shetty’s mark of 2:51.55, set in 1994.

Railways’ Akbar Ali Mir also took his gold tally to seven, winning the 4x100m relay and the 200m individual medley titles.

V. Sivaranjani, the 12-year-old from Bangalore’s Basabanagudi Aquatic Centre, claimed the women’s 200m IM. The youngest participant in the competition clocked 2:34.46.

At the end of the fourth day, Railways and Police are leading the men’s and women’s team championships, respectively.

Xavier didn’t seem too perturbed by today’s defeat. “It can always happen after so many years. Winning or losing is part of the game,” he said.

“In fact, I expected Sujith to do even better since he gave me a good fight during the last nationals. Anyway, I’m happy with my timing,” Xavier added.

Reshma Millet of Sofia High School, Bangalore, had hoped to go below the 28-second mark in the 50 freestyle. Her best timing is 27.95, recorded at the state meet and junior nationals in Ludhiana in 1998. She plans to train in Australia again, for which she has already bagged a scholarship after completing her ICSE in March.


SWIMMING: MEN — 4x100m relay: Railways (Akbar Ali Mir, Veeramani, K. Suresh Kumar, Sebastian Xavier, 4:08.03); Police (T.K. Senthilkumar, Deepak Kumar Singh, Yudhvir Tokas, Amar Murulidharan, 4:08.99); Services (Miritul Rehman, Abe Jose, Anil Kumar, T.A. Sujith).

200m medley Akbar Ali Mir (Rlys, 2:14.31); Deepak Kumar (Pol, 2:14.65); T.A. Sujith (Ser, 2:18.73).

50m freestyle: T.A. Sujith (Ser, 24.60); Sebastian Xavier (Rlys, 24.66); Akbar Ali Mir (Rlys, 25.21).

WOMEN — 200m medley: V. Sivaranjani (Kar, 2:34.46); Chitra K. (Kar, 2:36.26); Bhavana Sharma (Mah, 2:37.75).

50m freestyle: Reshma Millet (Kar, 28.15); Richa Mishra (Pol, 29.32); Tejaswi Shetty (Mah, 29.50).

200m breast stroke: Richa Mishra (Pol, 2:49.88, NR); Ambica N.S. Iyengar (Kar, 2:53.27); Archana Bhusan (Kar, 2:57.24).

DIVING: MEN — 3m: Yogesh Watve (Ser, 469.75); Umesh Prasad (Rlys, 447.80); G. Prem Kumar (Ser, 427.55).

WOMEN — 3m: Taniya Ganguly (Rlys, 337.00); Mamoni Mondal (Ben, 329.45); Suparna Paul (Rlys, 295.80).

WATERPOLO: MEN — (Semi-finals) Railways bt Police 11-6; Services bt Bengal 12-6.

WOMEN — Kerala bt Maharashtra 5-2.    

New Delhi, Nov. 8: 
Mohun Bagan coach Subrata Bhattacharya is yet to find a suitable place for his new Brazilian recruit Amouri in tomorrow’s Durand semi-final against Churchill Brothers.

The coach wants to use Amouri as stopper-back, instead of Hussain Mustafi, to counter the aerial menace of Churchill Brothers’ Stephen Abarowei. He considers Amouri to be a better header than Mustafi. However, in that case, the shape of the midfield gets affected.

If Amouri plays in defence, Bagan will have problems finding a defensive midfielder. With Debjit Ghosh injured, Dulal Biswas becomes the obvious choice. However, Subrata has not ruled out chances of using four attacking midfielders in James Singh, R.P. Singh, Basudeb Mondal and Jose Ramirez Barreto. Joao Dos Santos and R.C. Prakash will be the strikers in that case.

Except for the uncertainty over Amouri’s position, Subrata is sure of his playing XI and confident of surprising Churchill with his smart passing and innovative attack. If Amouri plays as central midfielder, then Mustafi will partner M. Suresh as central defender.

Churchill Brothers will field three African recruits, goalkeeper Edward Ansah, stopper-back Osumanu Husseini and attacker Stephen. All their players are fit and a classic attacking match is expected. Sadly, there is no deferred telecast of this exciting clash. Only, the highlights of this match will be shown on DD Sports tomorrow night.    

Calcutta, Nov. 8: 
Frenchman Jerome Golmard will be visiting Chennai in January to defend his Gold Flake Open title. The left-hander had beaten German Markus Hantschk in the final of the ’99 edition.

The 26-year-old Golmard, currently placed 37th in the ATP Tour Champions’ Race, will have to contend with the likes of in-form Swede Magnus Norman, talented Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero and experienced Frenchman Cedric Pioline at the Chennai meet slated from January 1-7, 2001.

Golmard, whose progress has been halted by injuries from time to time, has beaten top players like Andre Agassi, Marcelo Rios, Norman and Ferrero this year.

Fred Spindler, his new coach, put him through a yoga programme which has worked wonders as far as his health and fitness are concerned.    

Dhaka, Nov. 8: 
Barring a last-minute change, Bangladesh’s inaugural Test, beginning Friday, will see 14 debutants: Eleven from the home team and three Indians.

According to The Telegraph’s sources in the Indian camp, opener Shiv Sundar Das, wicketkeeper Syed Saba Karim and quick Zaheer Khan will earn their first caps. As of now, then, Venkatesh Prasad, V.V.S. Laxman and Yuvraj Singh will sit out.

Apparently, the thinktank would have preferred Laxman opening with Sadagopan Ramesh but the Hyderabad batsman, who crafted a brilliant 167 in his last Test innings (as opener, in Sydney), seems to have indicated he is more comfortable in the middle.

Significantly, in last month’s Irani Trophy, Laxman (who captained Rest of India) didn’t open.

The Indians, who arrived yesterday afternoon — barring Yuvraj Singh, who turned up today — had a reasonably lengthy workout this morning. The afternoon was kept free, with a light pool-workout scheduled for the early part of the evening and a team dinner (at an Indian restaurant) afterwards.

Just as well that nothing was slotted for the afternoon, as captain Sourav Ganguly would probably have been more concerned about wife Dona’s delayed arrival. As it turned out, the morning Biman flight from Calcutta (Indian cricket’s First Lady was among the passengers) arrived a good three hours behind schedule.

Sourav, by the way, has made attendance at team dinners compulsory — as it ought to be. So much so, he didn’t excuse Ramesh, who has the Dhaka-belly symptoms. “As I’ll only have curd-rice, I might as well stay back in the hotel,” pleaded the opener who will be playing his first Test in 2000, in vain.

Intriguingly, Bangladesh appear to be having problems in choosing even XII from the shortlisted XVI. It’s almost certain that Enam-ul Haq, Munjurul Islam and Rajin Saleh Alam aren’t in the reckoning but, at the moment, nothing else can be said.

What can be said, though, is that the Board here is intent on making Bangladesh’s entry into the big league an event to remember. Towards that end, the Board today felicitated those who contributed, in even a small way, in Bangladesh’s march to Test status. Many, of course, couldn’t make it but this gesture does stand out.

In fact, among the special invitees is Gordon Greenidge who, not too long ago, bluntly remarked Bangladesh “wasn’t” ready for Test status. That the Board invited him, despite an obviously strained relationship (which ended with the 1999 World Cup), speaks for the set-up’s maturity.

The Test, incidentally, will be sponsored by the Dutch Bangla Bank and all 40,000 tickets for the opening day have been sold. The response for Day II, too, is “very good” as a Board functionary put it. After that, however, the enthusiasm isn’t quite so pronounced.

In part, that’s because the last three are working days. But it also suggests few expect the Test to go the distance.

Match officials

Meanwhile, Raman Subba Row will be the ICC’s man-on-the-spot (read: Match Referee), while the umpires will be top guns David Shepherd and Steve Bucknor.    

Calcutta, Nov. 8: 
Sikkim were 61 runs ahead of Bengal on the penultimate day of their zonal under-14 tie at East Calcutta District Sports Council ground today. Bengal declared their first innings at 224 for nine for a 12-run lead. The visitors were 73 for three at close.

BRIEF SCORES: Sikkim 212 & 73/3. Bengal 224/9 decl. (H. Pal 40, S. Pal 28).    

Dhaka, Nov. 8: 
“It’s a surprise, yes, but one doesn’t complain about such pleasant ones,” remarked one of the most influential Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) members, when contacted by The Telegraph back in India this morning.

The gentleman, who has held many high-profile positions, was reacting to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s decision, yesterday, to shift the hawkish Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa from sports and youth affairs to chemicals and fertilisers.

The most influential member, in fact, was echoing the views of the dominant group within the BCCI. Dhindsa, after all, remains the only sports minister to actually question the BCCI and tell its mandarins that the BCCI wasn’t above accountability.

If anything, he pushed the BCCI on the back foot.

Of course, many felt Dhindsa was “strongly influenced” by former BCCI president Inderjit Singh Bindra, who, for all intents and purposes, has been reduced to a bit-player in the set-up. The public, though, will credit Dhindsa for taking the most significant steps in initiating the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into match-fixing.

The CBI’s stunning report continues to make headlines across the world of cricket.

In fact, the BCCI effected a temporary ban on the five Indian players, indicted by the CBI, only when it realised Dhindsa would call for the same. This was done hours before BCCI chief A.C.Muthiah’s meeting with Dhindsa, last Friday. But in seeking to score some points, the BCCI conceded many more to the sports minister.

According to top BCCI sources, “complaints against Dhindsa’s attitude towards the BCCI” had been lodged with the Prime Minister himself and the government’s No.2, home minister Lal Krishna Advani. The sources, however, were themselves unsure whether the “complaints” played any role in yesterday’s shift.

Dhindsa, for his part, sees the change in ministry as a reward for his “good work” in the match-fixing scandal. That, at least, has been the official line. Shahnawaz Hussain, Dhindsa’s one-time (and equally tough-talking) deputy, was shunted out earlier.

Significantly, not everybody within the BCCI is straightaway on cloud-nine that the sports ministry has gone to Uma Bharati. Though she has been a minister of state in the human resource development ministry, at this level, she still remains an “unknown commodity” for the BCCI.

Wait-and-watch will probably be the BCCI’s stand vis-a-vis the new sports minister.

In any case, Bharati is seen as a hardliner (like Dhindsa) when it comes to contacts with Pakistan. With government approval awaited for two trips to Pakistan this season, for a full series and the 2001 Asia Cup, BCCI mandarins will continue to keep fingers crossed.

Incidentally, the Indian team perhaps best remembers Bharati for planting a kiss on a blushing Anil Kumble’s cheek, just days after his ten-wicket haul at the Kotla in February 1999. The occasion for that affectionate exercise was Advani’s reception (at Hotel Ashoka) for Indian and Pakistani cricketers.    

Calcutta, Nov. 8: 
Singh brothers — Vijay and Bharath — are lucky in a way. The RCTC handicapper has been generous with at least two of their wards — Arezzo and Atomist — in tomorrow’s race-card. The three-year-old Arezzo — an easy winner of the Colts Stakes — has been rated only at 40 (56-kg in Class IV) in the Fizz handicap. In a way the handicapper has rated the city monsoon classics as nothing but crap. Atomist, on the other hand, has been placed at the top of Class V (rated 26) in spite of his good performance recently in Pune. The four-year-old has placed in all of his four starts there. Nevertheless, the two horses are expected to deliver and so may Aloritz in the feature the 1,200m Gavin Johnston Cup for horses in Class II.

Aloritz is a bloodless winner of the Gurkirpal Cup here early in October. The five-kg penalty slapped on the Vijay Singh-trainee is no big deal for the well-bred Razeen-Allesca colt. Cristopher Alford partners him. Read as: Horse number, last four runs, horse name, trainer, jockey, weight & draw:

1st Race at 1.15 p.m. Fastnet Handicap 1,400m (Cl V— Rated 00-28) — Indian jockeys only 1 0304 Nearco Prince [Bharath] Md Islam 60.0 1 2 1400 Alborada [Daniel] A. Imran K. 60.0 5 3 2330 Avionic [Bharath] Md Amil 59.5 4 4 - - 30 Soviet Port [Bharath] S. Rabani 55.0 3 W - - - - Crest Star [Goenka] (Withdrawn) 54.56 - 434 Adeline [Daniel] C. Alford 50.5 2 1. soviet port (4) 2. adeline (6) 3. nearco prince (1)

Soviet Port: Ignore his mosnoon season runs. Capable of doing better. Adeline: Performed poorly on Day I. May do better over 1400m. Nearco Prince: May place.

2nd Race at 1.55 p.m. Fizz Handicap 1,200m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) 1 - 200 Flying Scot [Javed] M. Reuben 60.0 5 2 - - - 0 Sadaf [Daniel] A. Imran K. 59.5 6 3 0013 Constantine [Karki] Amjad K. 59.5 4 4 - - - 1 Arezzo [Vijay] C. Alford 58.5 3 5 - - - 2 Supreme Desire [Daniel] Surender S. 54.5 1 6 - - - - Mr. Bombshell [Daniel] K. Kumar 53.5 2 7 0014 Global Harmony [Mujeeb] Md Yacoob 52.5 7 8 0000 Consul’s Secret [Jaiswal] Khalander 50.5 8 1. arezzo (4) 2. sadaf (2) 3. Global Harmony (7)

Arezzo: Winner of the ‘Colts’ and yet in Class IV. Set to grab the handicapper’s gift. Sadaf: Working very well. Yet no match for Arezzo. Global Harmony: May place.

3rd Race at 2.25 p.m. Usher Handicap 1,200m (Cl V, Rt. 00-28) — Indian jockeys only 1 3334 Atomist [Bharath] C. Alford 60.0 2 2 0303 Double Dancer [Javed] M. Reuben 59.0 6 3 - - - - Double Cross [Mujeeb] Haroon K. 56.0 5 4 3134 Magic Ring [Karki] Amjad K. 55.5 1 5 0030 Arizona Star [Mujeeb] Sher S. 54.0 3 6 0041 Art Smart [Karki] Md Yacoob 53.5 4 1. Atomist (1) 2. double dancer (2) 3. double cross (3)

Atomist: Placed in all Pune-starts — against a good company and still in Class V. Double Dancer: A consistent performer. Double Cross: May place.

4h Race at 2.55 p.m. Ming Dynasty Cup 1,100m (Cl III — Rt. 44-72) 1 - - - - Stately Don [Daniel] B. Gurang 60.0 3 2 - - - - Gambino [Daniel] A. Imran K. 58.0 4 3 - - - - Smokey Bear [Daniel] S. Tamang 57.0 2 4 - - 21 Annella [Vijay] C. Alford 55.5 5 5 3001 Storm Trooper [Karki] Amjad K. 54.0 1 6 0020 Staffordshire [Javed] S. Rabani 53.5 6 1. annella (4) 2. Storm Trooper (5) 3. Gambino (2)

Annella: Speedy and on merit may be hard to toss. Storm Trooper: Impressive in his lower class win. May place. Gambino: May need this run.

5th Race at 3.30 p.m. Gavin Johnston Cup 1,200m (Cl II — Rt. 66-94) 1 - - - 1 Aloritz [Vijay] C. Alford 60.0 4 2 - 212 Mameena [Stephens] N. Connorton 57.0 2 3 - - - - Premier League [Daniel] R. Gowli 57.0 3 4 3221 Sky Command [Mujeeb] Haroon K. 55.5 6 5 - - - - Double Bull [Daniel] G. Upadhya 55.0 1 6 - - - 4 Best In Show [Daniel] A. Imran K. 54.5 5 7 - 443 Amarante [Vijay] A. P. Singh 54.0 7 1. aloritz (1) 2. best in show (6) 3. Sky command (4)

Aloritz: A better class and breed against what he is thrown against. Best In Show: A speedster. May try to win from the start. Sky Command: May place.

6th Race at 4.05 p.m. Gabarnac Handicap 1,400m (Cl IV—Rt.22-50) — Indian jockeys only 1 - - - 4 Lovely Prospect [Daniel] A. Imran K. 61.0 6 2 2100 Rheinheart [Bath] S. Shanker 59.0 3 3 1404 Black Mane [Karki] Amjad K. 58.5 7 4 3313 No Regrets [Javed] R. Gowli 57.0 2 5 - 312 Queen’s Logic [Bharath] C. Alford 55.5 5 6 0034 American [Karki] Salim K. 53.0 4 7 - - - - Splendid Star [Daniel] Brij S. 51.0 1 1. queen’s logic (5) 2. lovely prospect (1) 3. No Regrets (4)

Queen’s Logic: Improving with each run, though the arithmetic of handicapping favours Lovely Prospect. Lovely Prospect: May upset. No Regrets: May place. Day’s Best: Arezzo Double: Atomist & Aloritz

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