Indians again second-best
Kirsten fails to catch up with Sourav at No. 1
Mohun Bagan’s time for consolidation
3 pm start affected showing: Bhupathi
Ladies on a heady punch
Bowlers rule the day
Mumbai Racing/ Six Speed wins in thrilling finish
Calcutta Racing/ Jeweller, Alyssum impress

Bangalore, Dec. 17: 
Rick Leach and Jonathan Stark had denied them the world championship crown in 1997.

Sebastien Lareau and Alex O’Brien did likewise last year. This time, it was Donald Johnson and Piet Norval’s turn to keep Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi waiting.

On court for the first time this week at 3 pm, the Indian Express were off to a whirlwind start before getting derailed by the American-South African firm. The 6-7 (8-10), 3-6, 4-6 defeat, in two hours and a quarter, was Paes and Bhupathi’s third straight-set loss in three finals.

Having come into this ‘big’ tournament sans any practice and little match-play, few expected the team of 1999 to get this far. But having beaten Paul Haarhuis-Sandon Stolle, Johnson-Norval and Leach-Ferreira convincingly en route to the final, Paes and Bhupathi were odds-on favourites to capture the first prize and break the world championship jinx.

The KSLTA Stadium, full to the brim for the only time this week, was an encouraging omen for the men in blue. And for the first 15 minutes or so, it did look as if Paes and Bhupathi would ride their full-throated support to glory, a la Chennai. They broke Johnson in the opening game and were a within a point of grabbing a 3-0 lead.

Norval not only staved off the break-point, he raised his game from that juncture to a level well beyond the other three. The 30-year-old from Cape Town served well consistently and hit some terrific forehand winners.

The Indians lost their early grip in the fourth game. Two errors from Bhupathi at the net gave Johnson-Norval triple break-point. The Indians were lucky to save the first but a terrible communication gap sunk them on the next point. Bhupathi was late to call ‘you’ and an unprepared Paes tamely patted the forehand into the net.

The set was back on serve, but the Indians had a great opportunity to clinch a second service break in the very next game. Bhupathi overhit the easiest of forehand pushes long on break-point, with Norval and Johnson hopelessly out of position after a long exchange.

Misfortune strikes

The tie-breaker produced some exciting tennis with both teams creating chances, before a stroke of misfortune buried the Indians. Norval’s service return was wide, but Bhupathi got a touch even as he tried to withdraw the racket on a call from his partner.

The long tie-breaker took a lot out of the Indians and their form took a nosedive from the middle of the second set. Bhupathi dropped serve as a Johnson forehand top-spin drive bisected the two Indians and landed on the line.

As if one break wan’t enough, Johnson and Norval got the ‘insurance’ in Game 9 to wrap up the second set. Bhupathi was the server again, quickly slumping to 0-40. A couple of superb net-anticipations made it 30-40, but Bhupathi then came up with one of his six double-faults to hand over the second set to the visitors on a platter.

The Indians were playing by far their worst tennis of the week. Bhupathi struggled with his serving, Paes couldn’t land any of his returns in place. It was pathetic to see them struggling thus after raising expectations sky-high via three straight-set wins.

Despite looking out of the match in the third set, Paes and Bhupathi still had their chances.

Bhupathi’s screaming double-handed backhand service return kissed the line to push Johnson to 15-40 on his serve in the fifth game. Unfortunately, the Indians failed to convert those break-points and Johnson had survived the crises.

It remained on serve as Paes and Bhupathi just about hung on for dear life. Came the 10th game, it was all over. Again, it was the Bangalorean who cracked as he tried to stay in the match. Three backhand consecutive mistakes gave Johnson and Norval their maiden world title and a cheque for $ 1,34,000.

Paes and Bhupathi had to be satisfied with $72,000 — still their biggest payday in a gloomy year when they had a miserable time off court.


Calcutta, Dec. 17: 
Sourav Ganguly has done it again.

In an era when claiming the top spot alone is tougher than ever before, the India captain has retained the No. 1 position specific to batsmen in ODIs, in 2000.

Despite being kept out of the Rajkot one–dayer, India’s concluding engagement of the year, Sourav’s total of 1,569 (32 matches, average 56.39) proved insurmountable.

Only Gary Kirsten had a realistic chance of over taking Sourav, but despite the advantage of two ODIs after Rajkot, Kirsten finished on 1,467 (36 matches, average 44.45).

The South African’s 58 on Friday, against Sri Lanka, had opened the possibility of a keen finish, but a mere six today enabled Sourav handsomely regain the top spot.

Significantly, Sourav has now headed the rankings thrice in the last four years. Sachin Tendulkar, who finished third this year, broke the sequence in 1998.

In fact, either Sourav or Sachin has emerged most prolific in each of the last five years.

“Oh, so it’s once again is it?” was Sourav’s distinctly pleased reaction, when The Telegraph reached him on his mobile as he was boarding a late evening flight (with wife Dona) to Mumbai, enroute to Mauritius.

Sourav missed only two matches this year: The last Carlton and United Series fixture in Perth and, of course, the one in Rajkot.

Overall, he made excellent use of the opportunities, testimony to that being posting seven of his 16 centuries and six of his 35 fifties.

Kirsten, in contrast, authored two centuries and 13 fifties, while Sachin registered three centuries and six fifties.


Calcutta, Dec. 17: 
A good start is half the work done. But Mohun Bagan’s start in the fifth National Football League has faltered, versus JCT. Hence the there’s a great deal more to work towards as coach Subrata Bhattacharya’s wards take on Tollygunge Agragami at Rabindra Sarovar stadium tomorrow..

Bhattacharya realises the sense of urgency that prevails, mostly because his is the defending champion team, and secondly because the way they allowed JCT to come back from behind twice to hold them is a rather disturbing memory.

“We are determined to put up an improved performance and look for no other result than an outright win in the match,” said Bhattacharya today. “No complacency, we’ll go onto the field come up trumps.”

The Bagan coach’s reiteration on the key word in all games just showed how desperate he was to win the match. He, however, said he was prepared for a team known for defence-jamming strategy.

“Tollygunge have never advanced to a stage from where they could call themselves a big team. They are a team for which playing safe the primary objective. They will be defensive tomorrow, that is their limitation of thought,” Bhattacharya said. He added that Tollygunge will have some advantage playing at a smaller ground.

For Amal Dutta, Bhattacharya’s counterpart in Tollygunge Agragami, arrogance is an integral part of his overall strategy. “Mohun Bagan could be a big-budget team. But I know where the shoe pinches most,” Dutta smiled, secret withheld.

Dutta, however, took up Brazilian import Barreto for special plaudit.


Bangalore, Dec. 17: 
Last evening, after beating Rick Leach and Ellis Ferreira in the semi-final, Leander Paes had shrugged off the possibility of struggling with on-court conditions in an afternoon match for the first time. Less than 24 hours later, both Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi were singing a different tune.

“To be honest I couldn’t see the ball, there were too many shadows on the court,” Bhupathi observed.

“Playing for the first time in the afternoon (3 pm) definitely affected our performance today. Still, we should still have hung in there and not let them run away with the match so easily.”

Paes, while admitting the shadows were a factor, emphasized it wasn’t an excuse for the defeat. “The 3’o’clock start did cause some problems but it was the same for all guys who played there over the last five days. Fact is, we went off the boil today after playing some high-quality tennis and lost to a better team today.”

Paesconceded that the peculiar I-formation of their opponents did disturb them. “We countered it well in the round-robin league match but today we didn’t handle it well. We couldn’t make out which way they’d move and kept missing the returns by big margins,” Paes explained.

‘Yet to sink in’

Norval, who was the best player on court this afternoon, said it would take a few days to sink in. “This title means a lot to me. I always wanted to win a major before I retire and the world championship, to me, is like a fifth Grand Slam.” The South African felt yesterday’s experience of an afternoon match helped them “a lot” today. “We knew exactly what to do playing in the shadows but the Indians were handicapped..”

Norval refused to take full credit for the victory. “Good job we finished it off in three sets, I was feeling a little tired out there.”


Calcutta, Dec. 17: 
There’s something about this game of boxing that seems to have kept it out of reach of the fairer sex for a rather long time. Not that it is really any more dangerous than, say, weightlifting or martial arts, but the basic concept of throwing punches from the shoulder, crashing into physique that has been deemed ‘tender’, has thwarted many an effort in the past.

Times have changed. When Laila Ali threw those punches in the pro ring in New York, and then all the boxers’ daughters trouped into the ring, maybe girls in India found a cause.

“Of course that encouraged me to take up the sport,” said 22-year-old Sanjukta Ghosh, a flyweight boxer, in the ring for about a year now. It is another matter that her father, Mihir, had been a boxer of some repute, having represented the Steel unit at national meets. “My friends said ‘at least you dared’,” she explained.

Sanjukta is one of 18 boxers with the Bengal Amateur Boxing Federation (BABF). Thirteen of them are registered. The just-concluded East India championship for the first time featured women’s boxing, in preparation for the upcoming Chennai nationals where women make their debut.

Three Bengal boxers reached the finals — Rahima Khatun, O. Geeta Chanu and Razia Shabnam — but all ended with silvers, most falling to Manipur girls who got five golds in the meet.

Sanjukta lost in the quarter finals of this meet. Her high point was in a state zonal meet in Burnpur in May where she won gold at bantamweight. Now at featherweight she is taking time to adjust. This B.Sc. graduate is now doing an NIS course with the SAI and expects to make this coaching and boxing a whole time profession.

But why the fear? Sanjukta feels this fear has been over-hyped a bit. “Of course you hurt when you get beat,” she said. “Even a man gets hurt. And, yes, we women would get hurt a little more, say, if a punch lands on our chest. But there are efficient protective gear for that.”

BABF chief Asit Banerjee feels women are actually more suited to this sport because “women make it a point to get even, and that is what we call the killer instinct in sport.”

Sanjukta, however, has a slightly different version. “It is a sport, and just a sport, it has nothing to do with a person’s basic mental make-up. In the ring if I get punched, I will punch back. That’s about it.”

Banerjee has done his bit for the fading boxing fraternity of the city. At the Rashbehyari Gurdwara park he organised this East India meet with panache. He set up a portable ring and gave the boxers a real feel of canvas.

“The feel on a canvas ring is vastly different from the cement rings that we generally use. The spring in the feet is different and this is what we need to make boxing a viable sport in this part of the country,” he says.

Women in the ring and a better ring, and more facilities. Bengal boxing seems to be heading somewhere, after all.


Calcutta, Dec. 17: 
Sudipta Mukherjee of Sporting Union and Suburban Club’s Sourav Sil hogged the limelight on the final day of the two-day CAB cricket league matches today. Sudipta took seven for 71, while Sourav captured six for just 22 in 18.1 overs.

YMCA College’s Sourav Basu played a valiant unbeaten knock of 154 to force Ballygunge United to settle for a draw.


Tolly Agragami 166. BNR 167/7 (Sanjay Choubey 32, Chiranjib Guha 26 n.o.; Anup Das 3/97). BNR won by 3 wkts.

Tapan Memorial 395. Rangers 180 (Keneth Sinha 47, Chandan Sarkar 25 n.o.; Rajib Dutta 4/33). Tapan Memorial won by 215 runs.

Sporting Union 300/8. Mohunlal Club 202 (Sudipta Mukherjee 7/71, Probir Mukherjee 3/73). Sporting Union won by 98 runs.

Ballygunge United 325/9. YMCA 297/6 (Sourav Basu 154 n.o.; Vedraj Paul 3/69). Match drawn.

Suburban Club 298/8 (Sandip Ganguly 98, Aranya Deb Sarkar 60; Probir Acharya 6/116). Barisha Sporting 150 (Shome Kapoor 34; Sourav Sil 6/22).

Customs 284 (Kalyan Patra 5/74). George Telegraph 285/8 (A. Das 106; C.P. Verma 4/87). George won by 2 wkts.


Mumbai, Dec. 17: 
In a very close finish between the half-money favourite, Six Speed and Lady Moura, the former just about managed to win the Kingfisher Indian 1,000 Guineas, the first classic of the winter season held at the Mahalaxmi racecourse in Mumbai on Sunday. Pesi Shroff partnered the Darius Byramji-trained winner.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. High Party Plate, Div-II 1,000m: (1-7-3) Winawin (S. Nayak) 1; Final Recovery 2; Numero Uno 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 1-3/4; (1-0.7). Tote: Win Rs 31; Place: 15; 17; 64; Quinella: 76; Tanala: 1,038. Fav: Winawin (1).

2. High Party Plate, Div-I 1,000m: (2-5-1) Fargo (Rathod) 1; Clever Talk 2; Luni Junction 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 4; (1-1.9). Tote: Win Rs 204; Place: 47; 18; 12; Quinella: 450; Tanala: 2,231. Fav: Luni Junction (1).

3. Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy (VI Bart.) Trophy 1,000m: (1-4-8) Over The Ocean (Prakash) 1; Chili Lady 2; Warrior Queen 3. Won by: 4-1/4; 2-1/2; (1-1.5). Tote: Win Rs 33; Place: 13; 14; 27; Quinella: 30; Tanala: 370. Fav: Chili Lady (4).

4. Homi Mody Trophy 2,000m: (6-5-7) Perceived Value (Prakash) 1; Audible 3; Double Impact 3. Not run: Piccolina (8). Won by: 1-3/4; 1-3/4; (2-5.4). Tote: Win Rs 12; Place: 10; 13; 28; Quinella: 20; Tanala: 91. Fav: Perceived Value (6).

5. Golden Treasure Trophy 2,000m: (1-2-10) Mosaic (Rajendra) 1; Sanaga 2; Ever So Loyal 3. Won by: 6-1/2; 3/4; (2-6.8). Tote: Win Rs 18; Place: 15; 18; 17; Quinella: 46; Tanala: 137. Fav: Mosaic (1).

6. Chandbibi Plate, Div-II 1,100m: (3-11-7) Blue Blood (McCullagh) 1; Maltese Falcon 2; Fantasy 3. Not run: Fast One (10). Won by: 1-3/4; Hd; (1-7.4). Tote: Win Rs 42; Place: 15; 30; 20; Quinella: 192; Tanala: 1,302. Fav: Blue Blood (3).

7. Chandbibi Plate, Div-I 1,100m: (5-11-10) Streaking Senorita (M. Narredu) 1; Voice Of Freedom 2; Temple Quest 3. Won by: SH; 2-3/4; (1-7.7). Tote: Win Rs 90; Place: 38; 17; 31; Quinella: 534; Tanala: 6,691. Fav: Heartbreaker (4).

8. Etna Plate, Div-II 1,100m: (12-2-8) Millennium King (Bernard) 1; High Voltage 2; Texas King 3. Not run: Honest Lady (10). Won by: 1-1/2; 1-3/4; (1-8.9). Tote: Win Rs 22; Place: 11; 28; 27; Quinella: 122; Tanala: 770. Fav: Millennium King (12).

9. Kingfisher Indian 1000 Guineas 1,600m: (8-5-9-4) Six Speed (Shroff) 1; Lady Moura (McCullagh) 2; Star Shine (Rajendra) 3; Flensburg (M. Narredu) 4. Won by: SH; 4-1/4; 5; (1-37.6). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 11; 21; 12; Quinella: 60; Tanala: 131. Fav: Six Speed (8).

10. Etna Plate, Div-I 1,100m: (1-8-11) Gold Berg (Aadesh) 1; Persian Lord 2; Vengeance 3. Won by: Hd; 4-1/4; (1-7.9). Tote: Win Rs 38; Place: 14; 14; 18; Quinella: 38; Tanala: 197. Fav: Persian Lord (8).

11. Titwillow Plate 1,800m: (11-4-12) Foolish Pursuit (Gharat) 1; Zongrilla 2; That’s Momentum 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 4; (1-55.1). Tote: Win Rs 578; Place: 67; 31; 78; Quinella: 2,378; Tanala: 72,231. Fav: Son Of Spartacus (8).

Jackpot: Rs 3,69,286; (C) Rs 719.

Treble: (i) Rs 428; (ii) Rs 1,702; (iii) Rs 2,986.


Calcutta, Dec. 17: 
Jeweller and Alyssum were impressive in track trials recorded yesterday morning.

Outer sand track

1,600m: Beau Bruno (Upadhya) in 2-6s; (1,000m) 1- 16s; (400m) 31s. Moved well.

1,400m: Auctioneer (C. Alford) and Serenader (Amil) in 1-40s; (4000m) 31s. Former a length better. Andestine (C. Alford) in 1-44s; (400m) 30s. . Easy. Master Bold (C. Alford) and Abashed (A. P. Singh) in 1-42s; (400m) 30s. Former far better. Accrete (C. Alford) and Aherlow (Amil) in 1-44s; (400m) 30s. Formser was a length better. Jeweller (C. Alford) and Arendal (Amil) in 1-38s; (400m) 27s. Former 2 ls better.

1,200m: Special Sovereign (A. P. Singh), Alastar (Rb) and Arco Emropa (Surender) in 1-30s; (400m) 31s. They were separated by a length and 6 ls. Alyssum (C. Alford) and Sterling Prospect (Amil) in 1-24s; (400m) 29s. Former was far better. Pure Passion (P. Alford) and Country Cousin (Rutherford) in 1-25s; (400m) 31s. Former 4 ls better.

1,000m: Storm Centre (Upadhya) in 1-14s; (400m) 30s. Easy. Harry The Horse (Connorton) in 1-17s; (400m) 31s. Easy.

800m: Swash Buckler (Rb) and Madame X (Upadhya) in 57s; (400m) 29s. Former a length better. Ispahan (Connorton) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Moved well. Fencai (Rb) and Double Dancer (M. Reuben) in 55s; (600m) (400m) 27s. Former 4 ls better. Athletico (A. P. Singh) and Sixteensixtyfour (Surender) in 57s; (400m) 29s. Former 4 ls better. Later burst blood vessel. Arterial (C. Alford) and Fluid Drive (A. P. Singh) in 1-0s; (400m) 31s. Former 6 ls better. Armetta (Amil) in 57s; (400m) 29s. Easy.

600m: Adeline (Rb) and Pneumatic Power (Rb) in 44s; (400m) 31s. Former far better.

Sand track

1,200m: Staffordshire (Rb) in 1-23s; (400m) 28s. Easy.

800m: Hoyo Hoyo (Rabani) in 52s; (400m) 24s. Moved well. Altruism (Rb) in 52s; (400m) 25s. Note. Stately Don (A. Imran) in 50s; (400m) 24s. Good. Gambino (Upadhya) in 54s; (400m) 26s. Just Kidding (P. Alford) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Easy.


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