8-wicket win for Port
Meet begins today
Indian eves meet Thailand today
Mohun Bagan rally to beat Tollygunge
Ritwik to lead 80 strong field
TTFI to set up medical board
Muthiah likely to face Morarka hurdle
Natekar in AITA’s scheme for coach

Calcutta, Dec. 18: 
Calcutta Port Trust beat Manoharpukur Milan Samity by eight wickets in a CAB senior division knockout tie today.

Batting first at Deshapriya Park, Milan Samity made 222 for eight in 45 overs before Port knocked off the runs with 25 balls to spare. Soumen Singh of Port struck an unbeaten 108 with Uday Srivatsava contributing 62.

BRIEF SCORES: Milan Samity 222/8 in 45 ovs (Vijay Talreja 46, Naushad Akhtar 44, Siddhartha Lahiri 42; Siladitya Majumdar 3/36). Port Trust 226/2 in 40.5 ovs (Soumen Singh 108 n.o., Uday Srivatsava 62). Port Trust won by 8 wkts.

U-22 tie in Berhampore

The BCCI zonal under-22 tie between Bengal and Orissa will begin in Berhampore (Murshidabad) tomorrow. Medium-pacer Dharmendra Singh will lead Bengal in the three-day match. Bengal have 16 points from three matches through a win, a first-innings lead and a tie.

THE SQUAD — Dharmendra Singh (captain), Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Wrichik Mazumder, Shiv Sagar Singh, Sourasish Lahiri, Kunal Bajpayee, Abhijit Sikdar, Dibyendu Chakraborty, Arindam Das, Ranadhir Nath, Subhradip Ganguly, Sumit Mishra, Manoj Shaw, Swapan Das.

Scribes’ cricket

North and East posted emphatic victories in the all-India inter-zonal Hero Honda J.K. Bose cricket tournament for sports journalists today. While North beat West by 110 runs, East defeated South by nine wickets.


At Eden Gardens: South Zone 53 all out. East Zone 57/1. East won by 9 wkts.

At Police Ground: North Zone 262/9 in 35 ovs (Vijay Kumar 88, Shekhar Luthra 63, Sanjiv Samyal 3/37). West Zone 152 all out (Rajesh Jiswal 30; Vikrant Gupta 3/33). North won by 110 runs.

Bali Trophy begins

The Servo Bali Trophy table tennis meet for sports journalists started at YMCA (Chowringhee) today. Nine teams are taking part.


Calcutta, Dec.18: 
The seven-day Goodricke East India Amateur Golf Championship, which begins at the Royal tomorrow, has attracted 92 entries. The amateur meet, really, is in two phases: Stroke Play on the first two days with the top 32 progressing to the Match Play competition.

One of the oldest amateur tournaments anywhere, the East India has a “categorised” rating from the Indian Golf Union. That is significant.

Besides last year’s winner Rahil Gangjee, the meet has attracted the likes of Simarjeet Singh, Amit Ahuja, Ashok Kumar, Manav Das, Jaideep Patwardhan, Shiv Kapoor and Lakshman Singh.

Incidentally, entries have been restricted — allowing for more biting competition — and only amateurs with a handicap of nine- and-under will be in action.


New Delhi, Dec. 18: 
The fourth Asia Cup tennis tournament commences tomorrow at the R.K. Khanna stadium with much of the sheen going off the meet following the withdrawal of Leander Paes.

For the first time, women’s competition has been introduced in this tournament. The Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) has nominated seven countries to participate, four in men and three in women.

Ramesh Krishnan, the Indian non-playing captain will rely on either Harsh Mankad or Syed Fazaluddin for the second singles spot. Mahesh Bhupathi gets the No. 1 singles slot. Bhupathi is likely to partner Fazaluddin in the doubles while Nitin Kirtane is the fourth member in the Indian squad.

The Indian men play their opening match against fancied Korea on Wednesday. Matches are being played on a round robin league basis, with the top teams qualifying for the final, slated on Sunday. Thailand take on China in the opening tie tomorrow.

The Indian women meet Thailand in the opener tomorrow.

Shruti Dhawan has been called in to replace the top-ranked Nirupama Vaidyanathan who has withdrawn. Others in the team are Manisha Malhotra, Sai Jayalakshmi and Rushmi Chakraborty.

The winner of the men’s event will get $25,000, while the runner-up will be richer by $12,500. For the women, the winner gets $20,000 and the runner up $10,000.

Men’s draw

Dec. 19: Thailand vs China; Dec. 20: India vs Korea; Dec. 21: China vs Korea and India vs Thailand; Dec. 22: India vs China; Dec. 23: Korea vs Thailand; Dec. 24: Final

Women’s draw

Dec. 19: India vs Thailand; Dec. 20: India vs China; Dec. 21:Rest Day; Dec. 22: China vs Thailand; Dec. 23: Final


Calcutta, Dec. 18: 
Mohun Bagan 2
Tollygunge 1

There was a pleasantly surprising gift for Mohun Bagan fans at today’s National Football League match against Tollygunge Agragami.

Their mainstay and many-time saviour Jose Ramirez Barreto had a rare bad day but their team still managed to salvage a 2-1 win after trailing at half time.

The Brazilian, in what was perhaps his most unproductive outing in Calcutta this season, saw compatriot Joao Dos Santos neutralise Abdulateef Seriki’s 27th-minute strike 12 minutes after the breather before R.C. Prakash hit in the winner in injury-time.

Baretto’s only meaningful attempt at goal was a thumping right-footer from outside the box which rocked the crosspiece.

Before this, Tollygune had an Emeka Achilefu strike disallowed for off-side and coach Amal Dutta made his displeasure clear, but it seemed as if the veteran had a point this time.

Both Mohun Bagan goals came after centres from the left and the Tollygunge defenders, looking solid barring these errors, were made to pay for clumsy clearing.

The first goal came when one flew across the goalmouth and the Tollygunge defenders let it drift towards the right side of the box. An overlapping Dulal Biswas picked it up, facing little resistance, and sent in a clever low pass which was booted in by Santos. The trajectory of the pass was crucial as most defenders were anticipating another floater.

The second came when Tollygunge must have become confident of collecting their first point and Hemanta Dora, having a good day with aerial balls till then, erred for a second. Lolendra’s cross was aimed at Barreto, a scramble followed, and Prakash collected the rebound before shooting past Dora through a maze of legs.

The cross was not very far from the seasoned Dora and it could have been a different story had he dealt with this like in so many other occasions.

Tollygunge’s goal resulted from the best move of the day which began from stopper Satish Bharti who took possession near the top of the defensive third. His pass found Seriki just on the other side of the centre-line and the Nigerian’s smart back-heel released Partha Sarathi Dey down the left touchline. The left-back ran a few paces and sent in a cross which was powerfully headed in by Seriki.

The goal apart, Tollygunge failed to press the rival defenders as they rarely had too many men up front and today, their midfielders failed to offer much resistance towards the closing stages.

Mohun Bagan were rewarded for their medios’ penchant for attack though their combinations with the strikers was not always penetrating. Mohun Bagan now have four points from two matches, having been held 2-2 by JCT in Delhi earlier.

The third Brazilian in thier ranks, deep defender Aamuri da Silva, playing his first match in the city, showed a cool head and good distribution skills. His defensive ability, however, was not quite tested.


Calcutta, Dec. 18: 
National and defending champion Ritwik Bhattacharya will lead the fray in the Power East India squash championship, sponsored by Bata, to be held at the Calcutta Racket Club from tomorrow to Saturday.

The meet has attracted 80 top squash players of the country. The Services team has also confirmed participation. The meet has been divided into six groups, the men’s, the women’s, the boy’s U-19 and the U-17, the men’s over-35 and the over-45. Bengal’s Sourav Ghoshal will take part in the U-17 section.


Calcutta, Dec. 18: 
The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) will set up a medical board for the coaching camp it conducts in collaboration with the SAI, Eastern Centre, here.

Several Bengal players were alleged to have been overage during the recent national sub-junior and cadet meets in Mumbai and a few of them were from the camp.

Till now, medical tests on trainees at the academy have not been conducted. “We will start that when the camp reopens on January 15 to ensure that our players come clean in case of such allegations,” said TTFI vice-president Prabir Mitra today.

The camp will be dissolved after Thursday and restart once the senior nationals get over on January 12.

Awards taken back

Meanwhile, the sub-junior boys’ and cadet girls’ titles, which Bengal won in Mumbai, have been taken back following allegations of having fielded overage players. Bengal had come second in cadet boys’ and sub-junior girls’ team championships and those honours stay.

In the individual section, Bengal won three gold medals.


Calcutta, Dec.18: 
It’s only recently that the Board constituted a high-powered Core Committee, largely to eliminate the possibility of a communication gap at the highest level.

In other words, a move aimed at ensuring that all who matter, within the Board, stay on the same wavelength.

Yet, the Committee’s next meeting, in Mumbai on Saturday, may actually see fireworks if the build-up is anything to go by.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, some members could ‘corner’ Board president A.C.Muthiah on the Kamal Morarka-issue.

Morarka, a senior vice-president, is himself on the Committee and on the agenda is the “exchange of correspondence” between him and Muthiah.

Morarka, also one of the three disciplinary committee members, was absent during that committee’s last meeting (Chennai, December 5) when the match-fixing/nexus with bookies punishments were finalised.

Much to everyone’s surprise (indeed, even dismay), Morarka has been critical of the punishments handed out by Muthiah and the other disciplinary committee member, K.M.Ram Prasad.

It remains to be seen, though, whether the Morarkas will prove more than just an irritant for Muthiah, who hasn’t back-tracked from taking bold moves.

Present too will be Ram Prasad, as all remaining (Morarka apart) vice-presidents are special invitees on Saturday.

All disciplinary committee members, therefore, will be around and Muthiah may use Ram Prasad, in particular, to counter whatever Morarka could offer.

There will be other special invitees to the Core Committee as well: Vidarbha’s Shashank Manohar and Haryana’s Ranbir Singh, both men from the legal profession, and former treasurer S.K.Nair.

Well, with so many special invitees, it’s hardly a Core Committee...

Originally, of course, the Committee had seven members —- Muthiah, secretary Jaywant Lele, treasurer Kishore Rungta, joint-secretary Jyoti Bajpai, Raj Singh Dungarpur, Jagmohan Dalmiya and Morarka.

Incidentally Bajpai, who isn’t well, may not attend Saturday’s meeting.

The Morarka-issue apart, the Committee is to discuss a host of issues.

The list reads: Showcause issued to former Board president Inderjit Singh Bindra, the rotation policy on awarding International matches, medical examination of junior cricketers (some states, one understands, are creating problems), strengthening of the Board’s HQ in Mumbai and the setting up of a Trust.

All the attention, however, will be on the “exchange of correspondence” between the president and senior vice-president.


Bangalore, Dec. 18: 
Davis Cup captain Ramesh Krishnan had mentioned the need for a national coach recently. It seems the All India Tennis Association (AITA) has taken his suggestion seriously.

The AITA’s development committee, which met here over the weekend, has chalked out a master plan for the welfare of talented juniors. It aims to give an elite group of boys and girls in different age-groups the training and exposure needed to smoothen their transition to the senior level.

A group of 10 coaches has been shortlisted to take charge of the various age-groups — under-21, under-18, under-16 and under-14. They will all be interviewed before one coach is selected for each category. The under-21 coach will also be helping out Ramesh during Davis Cup ties.

Among those discussed for coaching the senior group were Gaurav Natekar and Asif Ismail. Both are former Davis Cuppers, Natekar being in the team till 1996 while Ismail was a member of the quartet till ’95. Sandeep Kirtane is being considered for one of the younger age-groups.

Asif, the son of former Bombay paceman Abdul Ismail, recently got a job in Peter Burwash International, the renowned international coaching group based in the US. He’s earning a fat purse and that, too, in dollars. It’s highly unlikely the AITA will be able to offer that kind of remuneration.

That practically rules out Asif, unless the lure of becoming Davis Cup coach brings him back home.

Gaurav, then, is ‘favourite’ for the prestigious job. The son of national badminton champion Nandu Natekar is attached with the MSLTA programme in Mumbai.

The idea is to make these coaches travel with the select youngsters to as many tournaments as possible. That will entail a heavy dose of expenditure, current estimates pointing to anything between Rs 1.5 to 2 crore a year. If that sounds beyond the AITA’s means, one Mr. Yashwant Sinha could well make that possible.

It has been learnt the Union Finance Minister, who recently accepted the AITA presidentship, has assured Anil Khanna & Co. that he will help in raising the money to make the ambitious junior development programme a success. That’s the advantage of having a man like Mr. Sinha on the national association and the AITA would do well to exploit his influence.

The Davis Cup team has been without a coach since Enrico Piperno’s contract wasn’t renewed at the start of this year. He is still out of favour as he does not figure in the AITA shortlist. Ramesh, himself a member of the development committee, didn’t attend the meeting here. Also absent was Jaidip Mukerjea. The four who did get together were AITA secretary Anil Khanna, Dr Vece Paes, C.G.K. Bhupathi and T. Saikia.

Goa and Delhi-bound

Meanwhile, the Indian stars who came within three sets of clinching their maiden world championship, headed in different directions. While Leander Paes left for Goa to spend a couple of days with his family before flying to Orlando, Mahesh Bhupathi was Delhi-bound to take part in the Asia Cup. The other members of the Asia Cup team are Syed Fazaluddin, Nitin Kirtane, Harsh Mankad and Sunil Kumar.

Paes and Bhupathi, who made no bones in admitting that they shared a strictly professional relationship now, will reassemble at the end of the month in Chennai where the Gold Flake Open begins on New Year’s Day.


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