EB’s test of consistency
Swapna’s 3 in EB victory
16 make it to Dhenkanal
New-look Indian squad selected
City AC pile up 548
Ajoy Das, Safi Ahmed back for Baroda tie
Quickly shake the Australians’ self-belief, is Imran's advice
Calcutta Races/ Ansbach claims ‘Million’
Mumbai Races/ Snow Dew has edge over Starsky
Bangalore Races/ ‘Princess’ upsets

Calcutta, Feb. 24: 
The onus will once again be on East Bengal as they take the field with the tag of leaders against Mahindra United in a ninth-round match of the National League tomorrow.

They know that the irony of such a marathon league lies in the fact that one can never really count himself ‘leader’ until after reaching the home stretch.

Like a long-distance race, those crowding the middle, stand an equal chance, more so, when just a point or two separate the top four teams. Tomorrow’s match, therefore, will be East Bengal’s test of consistency.

Mahindra, with just ten points, trail East Bengal by nine and are currently placed sixth after FC Kochin, Salgaocar, Mohun Bagan and Vasco.

The primary aim of this injury-riddled team from Mumbai, thus, is to sneak in to the bunch just behind the leaders by the end of the first phase, after 11 matches.

“Five points from the next three matches will take our tally to 15. We may still make a match of it if our injured players recover when the second phase starts,” said manager Harish Rao.

The Mumbai outfit spent liberally to recruit players this season with an eye on the National League but injuries to some key members have dealt their plans a body blow.

Five of their top players are out with injuries and influential midfielder Aqueel Ansari is suspended with two bookings. Among those available, strikers Manjit Singh and Raman Vijayan are not hundred per cent fit and the former is a doubtful starter.

Similar things of smaller magnitude have hit the East Bengal camp, too, as principal marksman Dipendu Biswas is certain to sit out with a leg injury.

Omolaja Olalekan, a regular scorer, has fever and skipped practice this morning. The coach may have to pluck out Sheikh Sanjib from midfield, after the striker adjusted well in his new role in the previous match, and field him alongside Bijen Singh if the Nigerian does not recover.

The good news for East Bengal is the return from suspension of Chandan Das which leaves coach Manoranjan Bhattacharya with a lot of midfield options.

This is an area where the coach has a problem of plenty and Chandan’s return will force the coach into a lot of brainstorming over how he can utilise the services of the energetic Sur Kumar Singh. Or, whether he will field the creative duo of Tushar Rakshit and Dipankar instead of defensive screen Anit Ghosh.

Bhattacharya, who has not seen Mahindra in action this season, said he will look for an early goal as he did against Vasco in the previous match. His team was, however, kept waiting till the 40th minute by Vasco goalkeeper Rogerio Ramos. Manning the Mahindra goal is India No. 1 Virender Singh.

“East Bengal’s defence and midfield look solid but our confidence is high after beating Churchill Brothers in the last match,” said the Mahindra manager.

He may also draw confidence from the fact that they were unbeaten in Calcutta last season and, are yet to taste defeat in away matches this time. Rao indicated he won’t be unhappy to return with one point.

The teams have met twice this season and Mahindra won the first match, via tie-breaker, in the Durand Cup semi-final. East Bengal beat them in the Rovers Cup quarter final league and going by who is available and who is not, the Calcutta giants should feel confident of going one-up.


EAST BENGAL: Sangram Mukherjee; Ratan Singh, Dipak Mondal, Jackson Egygpong, Sulley Musah; Awoyemi Isiaka, Chandan Das, Dipankar Roy, Tushar Rakshit; Bijen Singh, Omolaja Olalekan/Sheikh Sanjib.

MAHINDRA UNITED: Virender Singh; Anthony Pereira, Christopher Kem, Habib Adenkule, Gulam Reza; Dawood Hussaini, Sanjay Dayal, Shamsi Reza, S. Venkatesh; Raman Vijayan, Manjit Singh/Abhay Kumar


Calcutta, Feb. 24: 
Swapna Kumari scored three goals as East Bengal demolished Kasba Samannoy 6-0 in a women’s football league tie at the SAI ground today.

Sujata Kar, Shanta Dhara and T. Tabaswum were the other scorers.

In another match, Nabajanma Sangha edged Youth Footballers 1-0 with Madhumita Das scoring.

BHA league

Calcutta Rangers hammered Baranagore SC 5-0 in a first division group B match of the BHA League today. R. Mundjea (2), Barry Saviel (2) and Shawn de Rozario were the scorers.

State beach volleyball

The inaugural state beach volleyball championship will be held in Digha from March 3-5.

Twenty pairs in the men’s section and 16 pairs in the women’s division are expected to take part. The winnings teams will represent Bengal in the nationals to be held in Goa from April 27-29.


Dhenkanal, Feb. 24: 
Sixteen of the 19 cars that were flagged off from the south gate of Calcutta’s Victoria Memorial this moring rolled into this town as the first leg of the Servo Kalinga Rally ended here. All 14 two-wheelers made it.

Dropping out were veteran rallyist Ashis Bagchi, Saswati Nag Chowdhury and debutant Subir Roy. The final leg, to Puri, will be flagged off tomorrow morning.


New Delhi, Feb. 24: 
National coach Cedric D’Souza has selected a new look 17-member Indian hockey squad for the forthcoming three Test series against Germany next week.

Four veterans of the Sydney Olympics — Mukesh Kumar, Dhanraj Pillay, Mohammed Riaz and Ramandeep Singh — are missing.

Pillay is playing in the professional Malaysian league, while Mukesh has announced his retirement. Both Riaz and Ramandeep are considered over-the-hill. The skipper is yet to be announced. The first Test is on Tuesday in Mumbai.

THE XVII: Goalkeepers: Devesh Chauhan, Jude Menzes. Defenders: Dinesh Nayak, Anurag Raghuvanshi, Dilip Tirkey, Lazarus Barla. Midfielders: Sukhbir Singh Gill, Baljit Singh Saini, Thirumalvalavan. Forwards: Deepak Thakur, Prabhjot Singh, Baljit Singh Dhillon, Daljit Singh Dhillon, Gagan Ajit Singh, Bipin Fernandez, Samir Dad, Tejbir Singh.

Chief Coach: Cedric D’Souza. Asst. Coach: C.R. Kumar. Physio: Saju Joseph.

IHC formed

As per the directives of the International Hockey Federation, the Indian Hockey Federation and the Indian Women’s Hockey Federation have merged and will be known as the Indian Hockey Confederation (IHC). K.P.S. Gill will be president of the IHC for two years with Mrs Amrita Bose as secretary-general.


Calcutta, Feb. 24: 
City AC piled up 548 against Paikpara Sporting in a championship play-off match of the CAB senior division league today. In the mammoth total, 48 were penalty runs.

Joydeep Ganguly remained unbeaten on 202 with Gyan Shau chipping in with 122. Himadri Dasgupta made 85.


City AC 548 (including 48 penalty runs; Joydeep Ganguly 202 n.o., Gyan Shau 122, Himadri Dasgupta 85; S. Bhattacharya 4/150) vs Paikpara Sporting.

Suburban 298 (Pradipta Niyogi 84; Debashish Sarkar 4/117, Rajesh Chakraborty 4/66) vs Young Bengal.

BNR 351/8 (Bikash Khanna 100, Samik Chakraborty 82, Kinkar Roy 59; Amit Sharma 4/70) vs Rajasthan.

Sporting Union 233/9 (Prabir Mukherjee 48, Abrar Ali Khan 42 n.o.; Utpal Chatterjee 4/53) vs Kumartuli.

Belgachia United 211 (Subhadip Mukherjee 71; Sanjay Das 5/66). Milan Samity 75/0.

Netaji Subhas Institute 301/8 (Amit Mitra 94, Bhaskar Malakar 50; Soumen Singh 5/83) vs Port Trust.

Mohammedan Sporting 187/8 (Sandeep Rawat 64; Dharmendra Mishra 3/24, Debashish Mondal 3/27) vs DKS.


Calcutta, Feb. 24: 
Ajoy Das and Safi Ahmed made comebacks to the Bengal Ranji Trophy squad as selectors dropped several players who “didn’t deliver” during their disappointing run in the zonal league. Both had last played the previous season.

Also recalled to the 14 for the March 10-13 pre-quarters against Baroda was off-spinner Pradipta Majumder. Young Arindam Das comes back from the India under-19 squad that did duty against the visiting English colts while medium-pacer Sabir Ali is back from injury.

“How long can the bowling burden be shouldered by just one man (Utpal Chatterjee)?” asked chairman of selectors Ashok Malhotra. “He needs support from the other end.”

Among those struck off the roster are spinners Sourashish Lahiri and Shib Sagar Singh. Ironically, both had bowled impressively in Bengal’s last league match (against Bihar) but, as the selectors pointed out, they had little to show for it.

Laxmi Ratan Shukla, whose boorish behavior with stand-in skipper Srikant Kalyani during the Bihar match threatened to end his season, retains his berth.

Syed Saba Karim was discussed, for a specialist batting slot, but selectors felt “he’s not ready yet”. Saba is trying to come back from an eye injury he suffered during the Asia Cup in Dhaka.

Skipper Devang Gandhi, who submitted a ‘fitness certificate’ to say that he has recovered from his knee operation, was also present at the meeting.

While the Bengal ‘think-tank’ is eyeing allrounder Ajoy Das’ off-spin “as there are several left-handers in the Baroda side”, Safi has comeback with some impressive scores in the local league, which includes a big century against East Bengal.

Malhotra said Shukla’s ability to bowl the long spells helped him get the nod ahead of some of the others. “Sujoy Parui was a strong contender,” he informed.


Devang Gandhi (captain), Alokendu Lahiri, Nikhil Haldipur, Deep Dasgupta, Rohan Gavaskar, Srikant Kalyani, Utpal Chatterjee, Arindam Das, Sabir Ali, Shib Shankar Pal, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Ajoy Das, Pradipta Majumder, Safi Ahmed.


Calcutta, Feb. 24: 
Australia’s unmatched record of 15 Test wins in succession gives them a headstart (on paper, certainly), for the series beginning Tuesday, but the peerless Imran Khan has some advice for Sourav Ganguly.

“Quickly shake the Australians’ self-belief... Self-belief has been the cornerstone of their sensational run, but my experience says this self-belief can also disappear very fast. A few early blows and...” the former Pakistan captain-turned-politician told The Telegraph last evening.

Speaking from Lahore, soon after returning from a short trip to the UK, Imran added: “Actually, this is India’s best chance as they are playing at home. In any case, Australia haven’t won a series (in India) for three decades. This will surely be at the back of Steve Waugh’s mind.”

[Thanks to the travelling, Imran, of course, wasn’t aware that Ranji champions Mumbai had done their bit to shake the Australians’ self-belief.]

Imran himself had some outstanding performances against Australia, with 64 of his 362 Test wickets and 862 of his 3807 Test runs coming at their expense. Eighteen of Imran’s 88 Test appearances were versus Australia.

According to Imran, respected as a top-bracket motivator besides being a superb allrounder, the “frame of mind” determines just how successful a team will be.

“If the Australians look unstoppable, it’s because of the frame of mind they are in. The turnaround began during the last World Cup, when they came back from the dead, and the team has just grown in confidence.”

Of course, Imran didn’t forget to salute Steve’s role. “The team has played around him and I quite admire the cricketer and captain in him. He’s positive and, most important, has that blood-and-guts approach.”

Pointing out that besides being positive, Sourav and Co. should look at the series as being “the perfect opportunity” to make “the biggest splash” of their careers, Imran remarked he himself was fired-up the most when Pakistan played the West Indies.

“Look there’s no point, for example, in getting hundreds and double hundreds against the B teams of international cricket. It’s in the upcoming series that the Indian batsmen, for one, must aim big.”

And, jogging down memory lane, Imran added: “For a decade from the late Seventies, the West Indies were invincible and playing against them certainly got the best out of me. I’m sure it brought the best out of many cricketers... Today, it’s the Australians who hold that posi- tion.”

Imran, however, was emphatic in saying the Clive Lloyd-led West Indies side had more ammunition than the present Australian team.

“The Australians don’t have a Viv Richards. They don’t have somebody in Gordon Greenidge’s class either. And, obviously, they don’t have quicks of the West Indies’ calibre. Don’t forget somebody like Sylvester Clarke could hardly get a game...”

Referring to the ‘debate’ over the nature of wickets for the three Tests (Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai), Imran said: “Anil Kumble’s absence notwithstanding, India’s best bet remains a turning track... I don’t visualise India coming off anywhere near the top on a fifty-fifty wicket.”

Imran, however, declined to comment on individual cricketers (“I hardly get to watch any cricket”), but did observe the Indian captain, Sourav, “appeared” to be making the right moves.

This should pep up Sourav even more.


Calcutta, Feb. 24: 
The hot-favourite Ansbach claimed today’s star event, the 1,600m Kalyani Black Label Million Stakes, sponsored by the UB Group. The Alnasr Alwasheek-Pass The Secret colt, however, failed to draw away from the field thus allowing his late-finishing stable-mate Calorescence come within his quarters. Aslam Kader partnered the Mujeeb-ur-Rehman-trainee to victory on a day ruled by lesser fancied winners.


1. Partisan Handicap 1,200m: (4-7-3-8) Armila (Engineer) 1; Armed Alarm (M. Reuben) 2; Go With The Wind (Rutherford) 3; Go India Go (Som S.). Not run: Floral Path (1). Won by: Nk; Nk; 1-1/4; (1-15). Tote: Win Rs 57; Place: 14; 29; 14; Quinella: 382; Tanala: 1,696. Fav: Remember Me (2). Winner trained by P. Locke.

2. Revelation Cup 2,000m: (5-1-3-4) Ace Of Spades (A. Imran) 1; Harry The Horse (Appu) 2; Aracruz (Rajendra) 3; Beau Bruno (Gowli) 4. Won by: 3-3/4; 6-1/4; SH; (2-13.2). Tote: Win Rs 90; Place: 34; 15; Quinella: 84; Tanala: 597. Fav: Harry The Horse (1). Winner trained by Daniel D.

3. Red Flannel Handicap 1,100m: (4-7-3-1) Red Trident (McCullagh) 1; Alterezza (C. Alford) 2; Bold Apparel (A. Imran) 3; Constantine (Amjad K.) 4. Won by: 2-3/4; 1; 2-1/4; (1-6.4). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 13; 16; 14; Quinella: 42; Tanala: 149. Fav: Red Trident (4). Winner trained by R. Alford.

4. Supernova Cup 1,200m: (3-1-4-11) Magnifico (C. Alford) 1; Sovereign Bullet (Gowli) 2; Aileron (Islam) 3; Pneumatic Power (A. Imran) 4. Won by: 3/4; 4-3/4; 1-1/4; (1-13.6). Tote: Win Rs 32; Place: 15; 21; 41; Quinella: 102; Tanala: 1,843. Fav: Pneumatic Power (11). Winner trained by Mujeeb R.

5. Up Guards Handicap, Div-I 1,200m: (5-2-3-9) Splendid Star (Tamang) 1; Arctic Fancy (Connorton) 2; Winning Hand (Gowli) 3; Kargil Soldier (Nasruddin) 4. Won by: Nk; 6-3/4; 1-1/4; (1-13). Tote: Win Rs 339; Place: 63; 22; 14; Quinella: 1,023; Tanala: 6,482. Fav: Scarlet Raider (8). Winner trained by Daniel D.

6. Kalyani Black Label Million Stakes 1,600m: (2-7-5-1) Ansbach (Kader) 1; Calorescence (C. Alford) 2; The Archer (McCullagh) 3; Aiberni (Rajendra) 4. Won by: 3/4; 4-1/2; Hd; (1-38.2). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 11; 38; Quinella: 60; Tanala: 135. Fav: Ansbach (2). Winner trained by Mujeeb R.

7. Rostrum Handciap 1,600m: (8-3-10-5) Crest Star (Amjad K.) 1; Flying Scot (M. Reuben) 2; Three Good (Islam) 3; Scavenger’s Son (Gowli) 4. Won by: 1-3/4; 1-1/4; 3-3/4; (1-41.2). Tote: Win Rs 100; Place: 22; 18; 44; Quinella: 217; Tanala: 5,053. Fav: Scavenger’s Son (5). Winner trained by A. Goenka.

8. Up Guards Handicap, Div-II 1,200m: (6-3-2-1) Sadaf (A. Imran) 1; Ispahan (Rutherford) 2; Cup Of Life (C. Alford) 3; Added Asset (Gowli) 4. Won by: 4-1/4; 2; SH; (1-12.4). Tote: Win Rs 40; Place: 18; 18; 15; Quinella: 104; Tanala: 465. Fav: Cup Of Life (2). Winner trained by Daniel D.

Jackpot: Rs 37,320; (C) Rs 4,147.

Treble: (i) Rs 1,370; (ii) Rs 367.


Mumbai, Feb. 24: 
Snow Dew and Starsky, the two MAM Ramaswamy-owned horses, may decide the outcome of the 1,400m Poonawalla Breeders’ Multi-Million in Mumbai on Sunday. However, on her superior bloodlines, the Razeen-Snow filly Snow Dew appears to hold slight advantage and the Ganapathy-trainee may strike in the hands of Aslam Kader.


12.15 pm: Crown Dream 1. Great Alliance 2. Park Lane 3.

12.45 pm: Abbeydoran 1. Fluency 2. Spring Time 3.

1.15 pm: Sanaga 1. Torres 2. Inimitable 3.

1.45 pm: Secret Force 1. King’s Crest 2. Avantage 3.

2.15 pm: Crowning Moment 1. Ocean Breeze 2. Anagram 3.

2.45 pm: Safarando 1. Prince Nicholas 2. Soviet Ride 3.

3.30 pm: Cafe Au Lait 1. Bound By Honour 2. Millenum Star 3.

4 pm: Snow Dew 1. Starsky 2. Affability 3.

4.45 pm: True Thriller 1. Consortium 2. Millennium King 3.

5.15 pm: Fly By Alibi 1. Tulsa Time 2. Anjolie3.

6 pm: Demedici 1. Pot Magic 2. Final Cut 3.

Day’s Best: Cafe Au Lait

Double: Sanaga & Secret Force


Bangalore, Feb. 24: 
Ganapathy’s Purple Princess posted an upset victory in the Governor’s Trophy on Saturday.


1. Infants Plate, Div-II 1,400m: (2-7-3) Star Splendour (Hughes) 1; Wovoka 2; Anchor 3. Won by: 2; 1-1/2; (1-29). Win Rs 14; (P) 12; 15; 36; (F) 25; (Q) 19; (T) 139 & 86. Fav: Star Splendour (2).

2. Jamuna Plate 1,100m: (6-7-13) Krugar Park (Warren) 1; Hayate 2; Bacardi Star 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 1/2; (1-9.4). Win Rs 58; (P) 18; 38; 47; (F) 478; (Q) 343; (T) 2,281 & 1,668. Fav: Inxss v(5).

3. Infants Plate, Div-I 1,400m: (1-2-4) Royal Liberator (Gallagher) 1; Star Of Gaiety 2; Trillenniium 3. Won by: 4-1/4; 4-1/4; (1-26.8). Win Rs 19; (P) 12; 14; 25; (F) 28; (Q) 12; (T) 62 & 67. Fav: Royal Liberator (1).

4. Sir S. P. Rajagopalachari Memorial Plate, Div-II 1,400m: (3-8-6) Spark Of Life (Ramesh) 1; Belief 2; Silvanus 3. Won by: 1/2; 2; (1-28). Win Rs 50; (P) 16; 15; 21; (F) 96; (Q) 32; (T) 273 & 121. Fav: Belief (8).

5. Governor’s Trophy 1,600m: (6-2-4) Purple Princess (Shakti) 1; Royal Mission 2; Great Occasion 3. Won by: 1/2; 3/4; (1-41). Win Rs 337; (P) 87; 15; (F) 617; (Q) 191; (T) 794 & 266. Fav: Great Occasion (4).

6. Murudeswara Plate 1,400m: (12-11-1) Aryawun (Gallagher) 1; Wakonda 2; Amazing Choice 3. Not run: High Zoom (14). Won by: 1-1/4; 2-1/4; (1-30.6). Win Rs 34; (P) 17; 43; 327; (F) 219; (Q) 125; (T) 8,099 & 12,148. Fav: Tattoo (2).

7. Varada Cup 2,200m: (2-6-3) Hong Kong Boy (Surjeet) 1; Almaz 2; Argyle Gold 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 3/4; (2-23.6). Win Rs 125; (P) 62; 24; (F) 484; (Q) 230; (T) 1,849 & 471. Fav: Refresher (1).

8. Sir S. P. Rajagopalachari Memorial Plate, Div-I 1,400m: (10-9-2) Saffron Finch (Harish) 1; Acceptor 2; Comedy Of Errors 3. Not run: Sensational Lover (8). Won by: 1-1/2; 1-1/4; (1-28.3). Win Rs 74; (P) 23; 56; 26; (F) 1,403; (Q) 356; (T) 5,155 & 1,915. Fav: Augill Castle (5). (The winner survived objection).

9. Kollur Plate 1,200m: (7-3-12) Breaking News (M. Narredu) 1; Triple King 2; Soldier Of Fortune 3. Won by: 8-1/4; 1-3/4; (1-15.1). Win Rs 25; (P) 16; 20; 27; (F) 80; (Q) 45; (T) 204 & 100. Fav: Breaking News (7).

Jackpot: Rs 4,66,851; (C) 40,016.

Mini jackpot: Rs 79,944.

Treble: (i) Rs 4,968; (ii) Rs 2,693.


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