Maradona clearly the sentimental favourite
2-wkt win for Patha Bhavan
India Tour goes to Bangla
Anand is the undisputed monarch
Uzbeks sign for EB
Mysore Races/ Flying Scotsman may land trophy
Calcutta Races/ South Cove catches attention
Race Review/ ‘Flame’ lucky to escape inquiry

 
 
MARADONA CLEARLY THE SENTIMENTAL FAVOURITE 
 
 
BY P.K. BANERJEE
 
Calcutta, Dec. 26: 
Electing the player of the century or rating them may generate unprecedented public interest and fuel controversy, but it’s basically a futile exercise. For, all these nominations and eventual selections generally paint a picture which is misleading as they fail to take into account an important factor — the context.

The hue and cry over picking the better one between Pele and Maradona is similarly meaningless, though the sheer magnitude of the subject lifted it to an euphoric. By an ironic yet welcome stroke of luck, none of them could be unanimously declared best.

It would have been unfair to both, and a few others as well, had either Pele or Maradona been elected Fifa’s Player of the Century.

The fact that the ‘contest’ narrowed down to two, overlooking the likes of Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano — not to mention a few others — is enough to suggest media-generated hype superceded logic and ignored other factors which should also have been considered.

To begin with, such comparisons almost always tend to overlook some basic technical points — (a) the role a player is assigned by the coach; (b) the formation or system followed; (c) the speed the team chooses to operate at; (d) the general standard of teammates.

The last-mentioned point is of paramount importance as football is a team game and even in individual disciplines like tennis, picking the all-time greatest is a hazardous task. Comparisons between Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Pete Sampras are not uncommon, but the debate over who is the greatest is an unending one. A similar attempt in a game like football, thus, is not worthwhile.

The media plays a pivotal role behind such attempts and it’s perhaps a blessing in disguise that greats like De Stefano, Puskas, George Best, Garrincha managed to escape the unwanted attention.

I prefer staying non-committal as far as picking the better between Pele and Maradona is concerned, simply because it’s beyond my knowledge and defies my sense of reasoning. It’s not a fair comparison as they played in different eras against different kind of oppositions and tactics, with teammates of varying quality and most importantly, in completely contrasting surroundings.

Pele, for example, is worshipped for being a member of three World Cup-winning squads (an injury, though, forced him out midway through the 1962 meet), but he never went through the testing European leagues. Maradona, with one World Cup triumph under his belt, fought bravely and successfully in the Spanish and Italian leagues.

Pele was a complete footballer with excellent public relation skills apart from his ability to dribble with both feet. While running, however, his right foot was more dominant and he was certainly a better goal-getter. He also had a better physique than Maradona and was a much better header simply because he was taller.

Maradona had a brilliant spot-jump but suffered constantly for his short stature.

Maradona, clearly the sentimental favourite in this context, was predominantly a left-footed player with exemplary distribution skills. He delivered a decisive pass to Burruchaga in the 1986 World Cup final and reproduced it against Brazil four years later when his through for Cannigia dealt Pele’s nation the knockout punch in the pre-quarter finals.

Maradona was probably a superior gamemaker than Pele and had the natural grace possessed by lefties like John McEnroe and David Gower. He exceeded expectations and calculations of all coaches in 1986, playing alongside players miles below his class.

Pele was fortunate in this respect as he played in the company of Vava, Didi, Garrincha, Mario Zagallo and Zalma Santos. Brazil’s World Cup triumphs, thus, can’t solely be attributed to the ‘Black Pearl’. Maradona, on the other hand, single-handely led his team to glory in Mexico, in 1986.

Maradona was certainly the more unpredictable of the two though Pele was more attractive as there was a kind of balance about him. As far as dribbling skills are concerned, Best was perhaps a cut above the duo, but never quite reached such lofty heights overall because of reasons not related to football. That is why ranking sportspersons, especially footballers, is not a wise exercise.

   

 
 
2-WKT WIN FOR PATHA BHAVAN 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Dec. 26: 
Patha Bhavan beat Saifee Hall by two wickets in the Pepsi Youth Series inter-school under-16 meet at Bagha Jatin Tarun Sangha ground today.

Electing to bat, Saifee Hall were all out for 170 in 36.1 overs. H. Rananwala scored 60, while Susmit Majumdar took four for 21.

Patha Bhavan reached the target in 32.2 overs with Subhrodeep Sen making 30. Susmit was named Man of the Match.

BRIEF SCORES

Saifee Hall 170 in 36.1 ovs (H. Rananwala 60; Susmit Majumdar 4/21, Dwaipayan Bhattacharya 2/27, Romit Kanungo 2/29). Patha Bhavan 171/8 in 32.2 ovs (Subhrodeep Sen 30; Saqib Siddiqui 3/19, Misbahuddin Shamim 2/32). Patha Bhavan won by 2 wkts.

Secunderabad win

Secunderabad today beat Surat by six wickets, aided by a quickfire 128 from Sahen Patel in their XV Jiji Irani Challenge Cup match at the Calcutta Parsee ground. In the other match of the day Jamshedpur beat Nagpur by five wickets.

Surat started well, with Fredy Bhagwagar scoring 104 and Homyar scoring 91, but got bogged down thereafter and could chalk up 249 for four.

Patel’s 77-ball knock (6x6, 4x18), and an unbeaten 52 by Jamsheed Hormusjee saw Secunderabad to victory.

Y. Dotivala’s 129 was the highlight of Jamshedpur’s win over Nagpur for whom J. Bapuna scored 81. C Saiwala was the main wrecker for Jamshedpur, picking up five for 20.

BRIEF SCORES

Surat 249/4 F. Bhagwagar 104, Homyar 91). Secunderabad 250/4 (S patel 128, J Hormusjee 50 n.o.).

Nagpur 193/8 (J Bapuna 81). Jamshdpur 197/5 (Y Dotivala 129; C Saiwala 5/20).

   

 
 
INDIA TOUR GOES TO BANGLA 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Dec. 26: 
The Professional Golfers’ Association of India (PGAI) spreads its wings to Bangladesh in the New Year, at the Bhatiary Golf Club in the eastern Bangladesh town of Chittagong in the Bhatiary Open Pro-Am meet.

According to information reaching here, this will be the first time that players across the border will be able to take part in the Wills Sport Golf Tour.

Two events are being planned in that country. After the Bhatiary Open, which commences on January 9, another tournament, the Kurmitola Golf Club (KGC) Open, is scheduled from February 20, to be played in Dhaka.

The meets will have a prize purse of Rs 10,00,000, with the winner taking home Rs 1.62 lakh in each event.

   

 
 
ANAND IS THE UNDISPUTED MONARCH 
 
 
BY BIPIN SHENOY
 
 
When Viswanathan Anand beat Alexei Shirov 3.5-0.5 in Tehran recently, he proved himself to be the monarch of chess. He is the best in all forms of the game — having won the World Rapid title, the World Cup and now the World Championship — and needs no further endorsement from any quarter.

Questions, though, have been raised over the authenticity of Anand’s world title triumph as the likes of Garri Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov and Vladimir Kramnik didn’t feature in the Fide-conducted event. There have also been suggestions of a unification prestige match between Anand and Kramnik or a series involving Kasparov, Kramnik and Anand.

The Indian GM shouldn’t mind any such duel. Anand, anyway, is already ahead on head-to-head count with Karpov and Kramnik. In the last decade, Anand has won 21 games against Karpov, lost 10 and drawn 39. Against Kramnik, Anand has won 10, lost eight and drawn 45 in their battles spanning the last seven years.

It’s only against Kasparov that Anand has a negative score with most of their games being played when Kasparov was at his peak. Anand has beaten Kasparov eight times and lost 25, while 34 games have been drawn.

Another crucial factor to be borne in mind is the fact that the chess world has been dogged by controversies since Kasparov broke away from Fide, the parent body, in 1993 and formed the Professional Chess Association (PCA).

Nigel Short joined hands with Kasparov. Short, who had qualified as challenger in the Fide Candidates’ cycle, decided to play against then Fide champion Kasparov, under the banner of PCA.

The seeds of dissent were sown earlier when the Grandmasters Association (GMA) was born. It was formed basically to fight for the rights of GMs and to ensure that top GMs got a better deal from Fide.

The chairman of GMA was Bessel Kok, a well-known name in the international chess world. e was instrumental in organising the first World Cup in 1988-89.

The GMA got disbanded when its president, Kasparov, was over-ruled by members on the question of unification of Fide and GMA. Kasparov wished to remain independent of Fide and wanted the GMA to function as a parallel body.

In 1995 Kasparov successfully defended his PCA title against Anand in New York.

In early 1998, Kasparov formed the World Chess Council (WCC) along with Luis Rentero, a chess promoter in Spain. The council decided to hold a Candidates’ match between world No. 2 Kramnik and No. 3 Anand. The Indian GM eventually declined. It was then decided that Shirov, who had a successful tournament in Linares, would play against Kramnik.

Rentero announced a total prize-money pool of $2.1 million, of which $200,000 was to go to the loser of the Candidates’ while the remaining $1.9 million was to be shared by the finalists in the ratio of 65-35. It is another matter that Kramik went down to Shirov, upsetting calculations of the organisers. Kramnik got his loser’s purse of $200,000, while Shirov received nothing at that time.

It was decided that Shirov and Kasparov would play an 18-game match in which the first player to score 9.5 points would be declared champion. In case of a tie Kasparov would retain the title, but the prize-money would be split 50-50. Rentero, though, failed to raise the prize-money and the match between Kasparov and Shirov was called off.

Kasparov, meanwhile, negotiated long and hard for a title match with Anand. When Braingames finally agreed to sponsor the match, Anand was not given sufficient time to study the contract. When Anand subsequently refused, Kasparov decided to take on Kramnik, who was No. 2 at the time. This had Shirov fuming as he had beaten Kramnik in the WCC Candidates’ match. Kasparov defended his decision, stating that the World Chess Championship was essentially a match between two best players in the world.

Kasparov, quite unexpectedly, went down tamely to Kramnik in a 16-game match. Kasparov lost two games and failed to win a single game. He seemed to lack energy and his legendary opening preparation was no longer as good as it used to be.

Kramnik, after winning the Braingames Championship, had expressed his desire to play a match against the Fide champion. If that materialises in the near future, I am sure Anand won’t shy away, provided it’s organised under a proper forum

The ball, at present, is in the other court as Anand sits pretty with the world crown.

   

 
 
UZBEKS SIGN FOR EB 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Dec. 26: 
Former Uzbekistan internationals, Ilhom Sharipov and Olim Taliev, today signed in favour of East Bengal.

Sharipov, a midfielder, and striker Taliev will leave with the team for Mumbai Thursday where East Bengal begin their Rovers Cup campaign Saturday.

Coach Syed Nayeemuddin will have to pick three from the Uzbeks and Ghanains Suley Mussah and Jackson Egygpong as a team is not allowed to field more than three foreigners in domestic tournaments barring the National League.

East Bengal’s other foreign recruit, Nigerian Isiaka Awoyemi, has not been included in the Rovers Cup squad.

   

 
 
MYSORE RACES/ FLYING SCOTSMAN MAY LAND TROPHY 
 
 
FROM WILLIAM TELL
 
Mysore, Dec. 26: 
The Sidney Moses-trained colt, Flying Scotsman, may land the 1,200m Sweet Memories Cup at the Mysore races on Wednesday. Y. Srinath partners the Conquering Hero-White Magic two-year-old son.

SELECTIONS

1.45 pm: Fox Fire 1. Waves Of Emotion 2. Aethion 3.
2.15 pm: Sandy’s Choice 1. Russian Art 2. Budding Romance 3.
2.45 pm: Storm On The Run 1. Goldeneye 2. Grey Bull 3.
3.15 pm: Smokester 1. Octane 2. Tequila Ride 3.
3.45 pm: Love And Honour 1. Greek Lady 2. Rosnovski 3.
4.15 pm: Flying Scotsman 1. Owen 2. Namby Pamby 3.
4.45 pm: Great Estate 1. Skilful Miss 2. Dealer Ace 3.
5.15 pm: Galleon De Espania 1. Morroccan Prince 2. Ultima 3.
Day’s Best: Smokster
Double: Fox Fire & Flying Scotman
   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACES/ SOUTH COVE CATCHES ATTENTION 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Dec. 26: 
All Game, South Cove, Tsaynen Blue, Scavenger’s Son and Added Asset were impressive from among the following horses seen exercising today morning:

Outer sand track

1,400m: Princelene (Rb) in 1-46s; (400M) 36s. Eased up in the final stretch.
1,200m: All Game (C. Alford) in 1-26s; (800m) 55s; (400m) 28s. Moved well.
1,000m: South Cove (Khalander) in 1-9; (600m) 40s; (400m) 29s. Good
800m: Bountiful Gesture (C. Alford) in 55s; (400m) 28s. Was easy. Flinders (Khalander) in 1-2s; (400m) 28s. Fit.

Sand track

1,600m: Harry The Horse (Connorton) in 2-2s; (1,200m) 1-33s; (400m) 33s. Easy.
1,400m: Tsaynen Blue (Upadhya) in 1-29s (1,000m) 1-6s; (400m) 25s. Was very impressive. Scavenger’s Son (Upadhya) in 1-30s; (1,000m)1-5s; (400m) 26s. Coming up well. Note. Airs Image (Upadhya) and Ballard Lady (A. Imran) in 1-34s; (1,000m) 1-5s; (400m) 26s. Former was far better.
1,200m: Earl Grey (Connorton) in 1-33s; (800m) 1-2s; (400m) 31s.
1,000m: Almond Rock (A. Imran) in 1-13s; (400m) 29s. Best In Show (A. Imran) in 1-7s; (800m) 53 1/5s; (400m) 26s. Moved well. Added Asset (A. Imran) in 1-4s; (400m) 25s. Moved attractively. Mameena (Connorton) (from 1,600 to 600m) in 1-5s. Fit
800m: Endless Surprise (Rb) in 52s; (400m) 25s. Was handy. Bank Balance (Upadhya) in 52s; (400m) 25s. Moved well.    

 
 
RACE REVIEW/ ‘FLAME’ LUCKY TO ESCAPE INQUIRY 
 
 
BY STAR RACER
 
Calcutta, Dec. 26: 
It was celebration time at the RCTC raceground on Saturday. With festivities being the flavour of the season favourites, too, made their contribution in abundance. Five of them, including the made-to-order Army Cup winner Stately Don, carried the public-purse to victory.

The shortening price of the Daniel David-trained ward, against the expanding odds of another of his runner Highland Flame, did suggest that something was cooking in the race.

The suspicion became grave when the starter released the field and the doubt was confirmed a furlong or two later when one was sure Flame was not going to fire.

The Flame, in the hands of Cristopher Alford, jumped out at an angle — a manoeuvring with reins which does not need a great deal of expertise. The Flame, after losing a couple of lengths at the gates, further dropped back by nearly eight lengths and Cristopher happily nursed the Tecorno-Citiglow son in the wrong-end of the field even as the four runners took the home-turn.

Shaking his arms nearing the distance-post, Cristopher made the Flame gallop in the middle of the race-track to allow the five-year-old finish a close third — by less than a length behind the winner.

The horse had not behaved like this in his last three starts which included two winning efforts. So it came as a surprise when no question was asked by the stipes and no inquiry ordered by the stewards.

The racing, on the whole, was quite enjoyable. It was good to see the last outing failed-favourite, Alamito, showing some form and finishing second behind a well-backed debutante, Calorescence, in the juvenile race, the Hongkong Jockey Club Trophy. The winner, a Metal Precieux-Pot Of Gold filly, was under very little pressure when she overtook Alamito who tried to win from the start.

A good double, in absentia, must keep the suspended Bharath Singh in good wit, though his winners were led-in by Harbinder Singh Bath — the caretaker trainer. Of their two winners, Private Lives was quite impressive in the Nikita Handicap, while Charlene in the A. S. Vaidya Memorial Cup cashed in on her handicap advantage.

Ammeter, a half-money favourite in Charlene’s race, was a big flop after her impressive last victory. The Razeen-Remembren three-year-old has been branded unreliable by her connections. She led from the 800m marker and looked good till the top of the straight before going backwards.

Annatto, in the Commanche Cup, picked up from where the Steinback-Camineto son had left off. Ridden in check, his customary manner, the Vijay Singh-trained four-year-old was a facile winner. Sterling Prospect, the second favourite, was never tested seriously by apprentice, Amarpreet Singh after the horse lost a length at the start. Between the two Bangalore-migrants — the second-placed Solo Act and the fourth-finishing Colonial — the later was far more impressive. He may strike soon.

The most impressive of all winners was, however, Santillana who made light of her heavy-impost of 61 kg in the 1,200m Harvest Star Handicap. Needless to say, she may strike again.

   
 

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