Kumble set for summer trips to South Africa
Expat support for Indian soccer
Ringing in the winds of change in Iran
Sandipan looks set to earn 2nd GM norm
Dahiya all set to remain ’keeper
Race Review/ Staffordshire proved a point

Chennai, Feb.12: 
Anil Kumble will have to make not one but two trips to South Africa before he resumes bowling. Kumble underwent surgery on his right shoulder on January 17, and will be reporting back to the Johannesburg-based Dr Mark Fergusson.

“The first trip will be in the second week of March, while the next will probably be in the second-half of April,” Kumble, out of cricket since end-October and with the right arm in sling, told The Telegraph last evening.

Till Kumble’s recovery is complete, he will largely be following the Indian team’s physio-cum-physical trainer Andrew Leipus’ travel plans. In other words, that of the Indian team, as it’s Leipus who will send “weekly progress reports” to Dr Fergusson besides overseeing Kumble’s physiotherapy (two sessions daily).

It’s this arrangement, which has the Board’s sanction, that saw Kumble become the 26th ‘probable’ during phase-I of the conditioning camp which concluded yesterday. In fact, coach John Wright even assigned him some responsibility: That of being unofficial in-charge of nets.

Kumble didn’t mind, but still did quip: “Look, even I was made to sweat... I can well understand what the 25 probables must have gone through...”

Though the Board is footing Kumble’s expenses, the star leg-spinner confirmed he recently went on record with the suggestion that the cricketers be on contract. “We can’t retire at the age of 58-60, as is so in the corporate and government sectors... We have a short career and, if a contract system is in place, even an injury won’t completely deprive a cricketer of his livelihood.”

Incidentally, introducing the contract system has been talked about for quite some time but, as with many other Board projects, nothing concrete has materialised. Kumble is 30 and earned his first India cap in early 1990.

Meanwhile Leipus, Kumble’s ‘guardian’, informed he is “very pleased” with his recovery. He added, smiling: “Actually, it’s better than I had anticipated.”

Super news, that.


Calcutta, Feb. 12: 
At a time when nothing seems to go right for Indian football, a few expatriates have launched the Indian Football Supporters’ Club (IFSC).

The club was officially launched in London on January 26 and its parent organisation called IFSC International is officially registered in the United Kingdom.

The IFSC currently has around 150 members mostly from Europe, especially England and Germany, and North America.

Affiliated organisations are being formed in Leicester, Goa and Kerala.

The objective of the club is to efficiently utilise various facilities and look after matters concerning Indian football promotion and management all over the world.

It wants to work in specific areas like training, coaching, women’s football, information database, merchandising, sponsorship, youth development schemes and player exchange programmes.


Calcutta, Feb. 12: 
In a country where football is unquestionably the No. 1 sport, Ehsan Ghaem Maghami is leading a revolution of sorts.

Coming out of the shadow of Bundesliga’s Hertha Berlin striker Ali Daei, Iran’s ambassador to international soccer, the 18-year-old is trying to make his mark in chess. He seems to be moving in the right direction, too, having already secured his first GM norm.

Iran currently have 80 rated players, Maghami being the best among them at 2504. He collected his GM norm by coming first in a Category 8 GMs tournament in Tehran last year.

He finished tenth in the world under-20 championship in Yerevan, Armenia, last year just behind India’s Krishnan Sasikiran. In the World Youth Chess Festival in Oropesa, Spain, last October, he was tied for the fourth to eighth spots in the under-18 section. India’s Deep Sengupta had won the under-12 division there.

“The problem for chess players in Iran is we have no sponsors to organise tournaments or to cover our travelling expenses,” Maghami told The Telegraph before his seventh-round match in the Goodricke International Open this morning.

Lack of quality tournaments in one’s own country can be the worst thing for aspiring chess players as they have to travel extensively to secure norms and score rating points.

“Our federation foots my bills for tournaments like the world junior championship or the Asian junior meet but not for events like the on-going one,” said Maghami.

“The lack of corporate support makes our job extremely difficult,” he added.

Iran have produced four International Masters including Maghami. He became the senior national champion at 14 in 1997 and regained the title in 1999 after coming third in 1998. He was once again the champion last year.

“In 1998, I was playing a school tournament in the morning and the nationals in the afternoon,” he reveals with an impish smile.

Iran youngsters have done well at the age-group levels and Atousa Pourkashiyan had won the under-12 girls’ title in Oropesa where India’s Krutika Nadig finished 29th.

At a club-level competition in Tehran which started in 1993, Maghami’s team leads the pack in the upper division which comprises of 10 teams. He is the highest paid player at $ 100 a month.

A footballer to begin with — he played for the Tehran under-12 team as striker — Maghami shifted attention to chess soon after.

Maghami respects Garri Kasparov as a player but likes Viswanathan Anand more because “he’s a top player and a gentleman.”

He thinks the new time control will help the game gain popularity but make it more demanding for players. “It will now require more physical fitness as the players will be under more stress,” Maghami said.

To that end, the fan of Rivaldo and Iran’s Hamburg FC player Mehdi Mahdevekia plays indoor football once a week. He also plays basketball and swims regularly.

Maghami wants to complete the GM title as soon as possible and cross the 2600 Elo rating mark. After that, his aim is the Asian title. “I missed my second GM norm by half-a-point in at least five tournaments including the Chess Olympiad where I lost just one game, against Brazilian GM Gilberto Milos, out of 14.”


Calcutta, Feb. 12: 
Sandipan Chanda looks set to earn his second GM norm after defeating GM Victor Mikhalevski of Israel in the 7th round of the Goodricke International Open Chess Tournament at the Alekhine Chess Club today.

Sandipan, of Goodricke National Chess Academy, is now in second spot, after his fourth consecutive win here.

GM Joseph Gallagher of Switzerland emerged the sole leader today. Buenavent Villamayor of Philippines,who had an excellent start in this meet, blundered a Rook against Gallagher to hand him the the lead.

“I played like a child today. I don’t know, what happened, I was thinking of Rd2 and then went on to play Rb4. Anyway, there are still four more rounds… to go,” Villamayor told The Telegraph today.

Sandipan attacked with gusto against Mikhalevski in a Ruy Lopez game. Sandipan pushed his pawns on e6 and f6 and, coupled with the combined thrust of all his pieces, created mating threats which forced Mikhalevski to resign.

Sandipan now needs 1.5 points from his next two games for his second GM norm.

“By move 19, I had a better position and after the 24th move I sensed I was winning,” said Sandipan.

GM Maxim Sorokin of Argentina was well prepared for GM Dibyendu Barua. Barua played the same line which he had employed against Vladimirov yesterday, but Sorokin came up with an improvement and the players decided to sign truce in an unclear position.

G B Prakash of India was outwitted by top seed GM Andrei Karlov of Russia in the Panov-Botvinnik variation of the Caro-Kann defence.With today’s loss, Prakash’s chances for a GM norm diminishes.

IM Ziaur Rahman made short work of GM Igor Rausis of Latvia in a Catalan opening. Rahman had a Rook, Bishop and Knight in addition to a passed pawn in the centre, while his opponent had two Rooks. Rahman had little difficulty in converting his material advantage into a win.

Rahman clarified after the game that he only had one GM norm to his credit. The second norm, which he had reportedly achieved in Bangladesh, was based on a miscalculation.

In the clash between two top ladies of Indian chess, Koneru Humpy and WGM S. Vijayalakshmi, the latter came up trumps she won a piece in the middle game which decided the fate of the game.

Sandipan looks set to earn 2nd GM normNorm aspirant Nassir Wajih once again excelled to hold National Champion GM Abhijit Kunte in an irregular variation of the Sicilian defence.


Buenavent Villamayor (5) lost to Joseph Ghallagher (6); Dibyendu Barua (5) drew Maxim Sorokin (5); Sandipan Chanda (5.5) bt Victor Mikhalevski (4.5); Andrei Kharov (5) bt G. B. Prakash (4); Nassir Wajih (4.5) drew Abhijit Kunte (4.5); Ziaur Rahman (5) bt Igor Rausis (4); C. S. Gokhale (4.5) drew P. Harikrishna (4.5); R. B. Ramesh (4.5) drew Lanka Ravi (4.5); Tejas Bakre (3.5) lost to Evgeny Vladimirov (4.5); T. S. Ravi (4) drew Dimitri Komarov (4); Dimitri Reinderman (4.5) bt P.D.S. Girinath (3.5); Eshan Ghaem Maghami (4.5) bt Datu Idelfanso (3.5); Alexie Barsov (4.5) bt Dinesh K. Sharma (3.5); Koneru Humpy (3.5) lost to S. Vijayalakshmi (4.5); Gurpreetpal Singh (4) drew Tomasz Markowski (3.5).


S. S. Ganguly (3) drew Dworakowska Joanna (3); Neelotpal Das (3) drew Rahul Shetty (3); Arghyadip Das (2.5) lost to Chito Garma (3.5); Saheli Dhar Barua (3) drew with K. Murugan (3); Saptarshi Roy (2.5) bt Abhijit Gupta (2); Shankar Roy (2.5) bt Joshi Pankaj (1.5); Saheli Nath (0.5) lost to Anoori Shah (2).


Chennai, Feb. 12: 
Though veteran Nayan Mongia made the probables’ list for the upcoming series against Australia, even an outstanding performance in the India A game in Nagpur, against the visitors, is unlikely to ensure his return to cricket’s premier division.

Mongia’s last India appearance was in the Asia Cup in Dhaka, in the summer of 2000. Even then, however, Mongia wasn’t the first-choice — he only went as replacement for the injured Syed Saba Karim.

According to well-placed sources of The Telegraph, Vijay Dahiya, who has kept in all international engagements this season except the Dhaka Test (where Saba Karim was an embarrassment), is set to again be handed the big gloves.

Dahiya made his debut in the ICC KnockOut in Nairobi, in October last year, and has hardly put a foot wrong. That Mongia got picked for the Nagpur match gave the impression he is a firm contender, but the well-placed sources have something else to say.

In fact, captain Sourav Ganguly himself yesterday hinted at Dahiya being retained when he kept mum on Mongia when asked (by the Media) to comment on the wicketkeeper’s slot. The “Dahiya is doing a good job” comment has to be now seen as a significant endorsement from the captain, no less.

While the ‘senior’ Mongia is with his back to the wall, the other Mongia — rookie middleorder batsman Dinesh — is a pretty solid contender for slot No. 7 (the additional berth) among batsmen. It could well be a photo-finish between him and Hemang Badani, who has already proved himself in ODIs.

Six batsmen, of course, select themselves: Sourav, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sadagopan Ramesh, Shiv Sundar Das and V.V.S. Laxman.

However, where the six bowlers are concerned, at the moment there are just two certainties: Jawagal Srinath and Ajit Agarkar. The third seamer’s slot is ‘open’. Ditto, almost, for all three spinners as only offie Sarandeep Singh appears to be on somewhat firm footing. The dark horse is Balaji Rao.

The XIV for the first Test, in Mumbai from February 27, will be picked on February 19 in Nagpur. In a change from what was originally planned, the squad will assemble in Mumbai on February 23, not earlier.


Calcutta, Feb. 12: 
Calcutta race-goers are so obsessed with horse-owners Deepak Khaitan and Ramaswamy winners that the totalisator pays handsome dividends when their favourites fail. In a way, it is good, feel the small owners and trainers who, normally, target the weak links in the capital establishments to strike at opportune moments, and at lucrative odds. Moreover, an each-way gamble on long-priced horses covers the risk factor too.

In this light, the courageous efforts of trainer Javed Khan has been admirable. Cornered by the big string owners, the crafty trainer has in recent weeks ruined many a gameplan of powerful stables.

One such quietly backed winner from Javed’s yard last Saturday was Staffordshire. The five-year-old horse not only upset the rhythm of the favourite, Annella, in the 1,100m Ardiles Cup, but also proved a point — that his earlier runaway victory over the Ramaswamy hot-favourite, Added Asset, should not have been treated as a fluke.

Javed had followed the golden rule, the age-old one in racing circles. After beating Added Asset in Class III, he had the hot-footed horse tested over a 1,200m sprint upon promotion to ensure that the Gold Discovery-Sanzeenee five-year-old retained the form shown earlier. The six-furlong exercise may not have yielded monetary gains for his connections, it did, however, strengthened the stable’s belief in the merit of the speedster.

The afternoon was, otherwise, ruled by the Khaitan string, and his jockey Cristopher Alford, from the word ‘go’. In the Stand Off Handicap, his much neglected Adeline decided to put her best foot forward. The Sir Bordeaux-Adelisa daughter was ridden off the pace and triumphed with Cristopher having little to do but drive the Daniel David-trainee in the home-stretch for an easy victory.

Cristopher had an equally easy time on Aloritz, winner of the feature event, the H. H. Maharaja Jagaddipendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur of Cooch Behar Cup, over 1,600m. The Razeen-Above four-year-old colt from trainer Vijay Singh’s yard ran at prohibited odds, thanks to his last victory in the 2,000 Guineas. The Cooch Behar Cup, in fact, served as a platform for RCTC’s charity drive in aid of the Gujarat victims. The big screen idols and the city socialites came forward to join hands with the turf club and Rs 5 lakh was collected on the day.

Coming back to Cristopher’s winners; Queen’s Logic justified her odds and picked up the Port Desire Handicap in a facile manner. The Bath-trained filly in the process also failed a big gamble on Richard Alford’s Red Trident, ridden by R. Yadav.

Cristopher was at his best on Crucible in the 1,600m Mysore Race Club Cup, in which a five-cornered blanket finish verdict went in favour of Vijay’s ward. Placed fourth, High Life was best of the beaten horses and may repay losses.

Cristopher’s Melodeon, in the 1,400m Turf Hawk Handicap, brought about the biggest disappointment on the day. Having lost some ground at the start, Cristopher was quick to have the half-money favourite moving up into a striking position. The Vijay Singh-trainee, however, was seen going backwards soon after for some unexplained reasons. Cool Quest won the race in a close finish involving Spanish Drum’s, who’s pillar-to-post effort came to naught virtually in his final two strides.

Equally disappointing was the run of the Bangalore migrant, Blue Gardenia. The Darasha-trainee, perhaps, found her heavy-impost a stopper. The friendless Regency Time who won the race caused a maximum damage to the hopes of jackpot investors. Incidentally, the ‘pot’ went unsolved.


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