Our batsmen haven’t yet acclimatised: Gilchrist
Thakkar’s team fails to finish
Gentleman giant of chess arrives for city function
Kochin face Tolly test
Champion Anand arrives in city
Sandipan loses
Tough for Hirwani
East Bengal toil to victory
Mumbai Races/ Noble Opinion wins close finish
Track trials

 
 
OUR BATSMEN HAVEN’T YET ACCLIMATISED: GILCHRIST 
 
 
BY LOKENDRA PRATAP SAH
 
Mumbai, Feb. 25: 
Vice-captain Adam Gilchrist today acknowledged the Australian batsmen “had not made the necessary adjustments” in the two first-class games leading up to Test No.1, beginning Tuesday.

“As an experience, both outings have been great but our batsmen didn’t allow themselves to settle down before going for shots… Really, they didn’t give themselves the best chance to acclima- tise,” Gilchrist remarked, speaking after the morning workout.

The vice-captain (also wicketkeeper) added: “In India, you’ve got to switch on early against the spinners. Otherwise… Yes, it would have been nice had all our batsmen got hundreds, but only Justin Langer (Nagpur) and cap- tain Steve Waugh (Mumbai) did.”

Gilchrist, who has himself had to make adjustments on wickets where the bounce has been lower to what he is accustomed, pointed out that the batsmen would have to learn from the application shown by the captain.

Both India A, in Nagpur, and Ranji champions Mumbai (at home) took the lead in the first innings. Moreover, had Mumbai captain Samir Dighe declared an hour or so earlier (yesterday), the Australians could even have been defeated.

It’s certainly not been the most pleasing lead-up, though coach John Buchanan did tell The Telegraph: “It’s going to be different in the Test-mode. In any case, you don’t look to play your best cricket in the tour-opener(s) itself.”

What has compounded Australia’s ‘woes’ is the injury to Mark Waugh, a key member. Mark injured himself on Day-I of the Mumbai game and while he was present at today’s nets, the three stitches on the webbing between the fourth and fifth fingers (left hand) have still not been removed.

The Australians, however, are maintaining a brave front. Gilchrist himself said: “Mark’s recovery has been good and we’ll wait till the end before deciding whether or not to field him.”

p>Veteran physio Errol Alcott had something similar to say and suggested the stitches could come off as soon as tomorrow morning.

Still, a well-placed source indicated there’s “apprehension” that Mark, a specialist (and brilliant) slips fielder, “may just instinctively flinch” when out in the middle. That could prove fatal if the beneficiary is a Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly or Rahul Dravid.

Mark has generally been lucky with injuries in exactly a decade of international cricket. Should he actually be ruled out, though, Damien Martyn will be the replacement. Martyn, however, has only played 11 Tests in nine years of international cricket. Mark’s appearances total 108.

   

 
 
THAKKAR’S TEAM FAILS TO FINISH 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Puri, Feb. 25: 
The second and final phase of the Servo-Kalinga Rally passed off smoothly today as all the 16 cars that made it to Dhenkanal reached the finishing point here.

There was one withdrawal in the two-wheeler section with national-circuit rider Mukesh Thakkar and navigator Rajdeep Phadikar pulling out at the fifth time control. Their control papers were missing.

The rally was flagged off in Calcutta yesterday and 16 of the 19 cars completed the first phase to Dhenkanal (587.39 kms).

The final phase was flagged off this morning and the distance covered today was 314.79 kms.

The prizes will be distributed in Calcutta on March 3.

   

 
 
GENTLEMAN GIANT OF CHESS ARRIVES FOR CITY FUNCTION 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 25: 
It has been a series of felicitations and a long, long joy ride for world chess champion Viswanathan Anand. Not that this has been entirely without side effects, though. The fatigue shows, and an early reitrement for the day was the prime thing on Anand’s mind after his evening arrival here on the occasion of the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Alekhine Chess Club.

Passengers from the evening Delhi flight trooped into the arrival lounge, and tagging along slowly, pretty casually too, was the world champion. Airport hands paid no heed at first, but the face looked familiar and slowly they warmed to a few autographs. Perhaps they have become used to the sheer arrogance from lesser mortals from other so-called glamour disciplines.

The fact that Anand and wife Aruna had wait-listed tickets in Delhi, giving them a few worrying moments was something that Aruna quite casually talked about to this corespondent.

Sheer humility, that.

Returning to the city after nearly nine years — he was here for the 1992 Goodricke chess championship where he finished second — he waded into a spirited, albeit a trifle chaotic welcome from a host of enthusiastic kid chess players at the airport. That was possibly the only part in his trip so far that made him look of the stature that he is.

Later, the 31-year-old Chennai star said he preserved “many pleasant memories” of this city, and would have come back earlier, but important engagements always prevented that.

City-based world under-12 champion Deep Sengupta garlanded Anand on his arrival at the airport.

Anand will be playing a simultaneous chess exhibition meet at Gorky Sadan tomorrow. He said he was happy that chess was finally taking deep roots in the country of its origin and that sponsors were coming forward. “That is a good sign, and I believe that chess, as one of the oldest organised sport, is getting its due attention and popularity.” That recognition has come from the Union government as well, with the perfect gentleman expressing his happiness with the Padmabhusan.

On what he told Sachin Tendulkar when they met in Mumbai recently, he said: “Good wishes for the Australia tour.”

He said though he has been able to work with GM Krishnan Sasikiran “only once so far, though I did get to know P. Harikrishna pretty well in Holland.”

“I see in them and in Abhijit Kunte, great potential. They have just become Grandmasters, give them some time to evolve. Some take three years, some less, some five. But they will reach good levels,” said Anand.

Anand, who will be going over to Monaco for a tournament involving the tops like Vladimir Kramnik, Alexi Shirov and Peter Leko from March 16, said his second Ubilva has “sort of become permanent,” and “I work out with Leko off and on. We keep meeting.”

Aruna, on her first visit to this city, did not feel that being the wife of a world champion does involve extra pressure.”It’s nice moving around, the atmosphere hasn’t changed much. It’s good,” she said.

Tomorrow the couple want to go through the city a bit, maybe visit the Kalighat temple. Then the world champions sits with some local coaches and players for a brain-strorming session before the wizard of rapid chess shows off his prowess in a sumultaneous meet.

   

 
 
KOCHIN FACE TOLLY TEST 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 25: 
The form book and recent record make FC Kochin firm favourites in tomorrow’s National League match against Tollygunge Agragami.

With 18 points from eight matches, the Kerala side trails leaders East Bengal by four points, though the Calcutta giants have played a game more. FC Kochin is also the only unbeaten team in the league so far. Tollygunge, on the other end, are fighting to stay afloat with just seven points from eight ties.

The presence of I.M. Vijayan, Jo Paul Ancheri and a clutch of Liberians give FC Kochin the edge but tomorrow’s match may prove a little tougher than what they might expect.

For, Tollygunge have shown signs of improvement in recent matches and they are always a tricky lot on home turf. Also, tomorrow they will be at full strength after some time.

Then, there is always the Amal Dutta factor. Tollygunge’s bunch of mediocres always look different under the seasoned coach and he is once again likely to employ his ultra-defensive ploy which has frustrated many formidable outfits in the past.

FC Kochin coach A.M. Sreedharan said he has not seen Tollygunge in action this season and all his players, barring Dinesh Nair, are available.

The former Mohun Bagan ’keeper has often been used as right-back under Sreedharan’s scheme of things but he is out with two yellow cards.

This may prevent goalkeeper-cum-striker Sunday Seah from showing his scoring prowess in tomorrow’s match. This Liberian scored twice after being promoted in the second half in the lat match against SBT.

   

 
 
CHAMPION ANAND ARRIVES IN CITY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 25: 
World champion Viswanathan Anand returned to the city this evening, after a gap of nearly nine years.

Following a spirited, though a trifle chaotic welcome at the airport, he said he preserved “many pleasant memories” of this city, and would have come back earlier, but important engagements always prevented that.

In 1992 he was here to play in the Goodricke chess championship and had finished second.

City-based world under-12 champion Deep Sengupta garlanded Anand on his arrival at the airport.

Anand’s wife Aruna accompanies him on this trip.

Anand, who will be playing a simultaneous chess meet at Gorky Sadan tomorrow on the occasion of the Alekhine Chess Club’s 25th anniversary celebrations, said he was happy that chess was finally taking deep roots in the country of its origin and that sponsors were coming forward.

“That is a good sign, and I believe that chess, as one of the oldest organised sport is getting its due attention and popularity.”

Anand, who will be going over to Monaco for a tournament involving the tops like Vladimir Kramnik, Alexei Shirov and Peter Leko from March 16, said as his second Ubilva has “sort of become permanent,” and “I work out with Leko off and on.”

Aruna, on her first visit to this city, did not feel that being the wife of a world champion does involve extra pressure.

“It’s nice moving around, the atmosphere, hasn’t much changed. It’s good,” she said. The travel plans are as hectic, if not more (it is only in the last one year that Anand has been in his home country for five months), but for Aruna that is just a respite. She is already used to all that.

   

 
 
SANDIPAN LOSES 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 25: 
Sandipan Chanda’s dismal run in the fifth United Insurance Grandmasters chess meet in Dhaka continues.

After collecting just two points from six rounds, the city IM today lost to local IM Reefat Bin Sattar. Chanda’s chances of collecting his third GM norm from his tournament now look slim.

In today’s game, a queen-pawn opening, Chanda lost with white pieces in 40 moves, according to information received here.

GM-elect G.B. Prakash of India held overnight leader GM Alexander Volzhyn with black pieces to move up to 3.5 points. In a Semi-Slav defence, Prakash held the Russian in 33 moves.

Volzhyn leads with 5.5 points.

   

 
 
TOUGH FOR HIRWANI 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Mumbai, Feb.25: 
Leggie Narendra Hirwani has earned his first India call-up in over four years, but his selection in the XI for the opening Test against Australia, at the Wankhede from Tuesday, is far from guaranteed.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, the left-arm Rahul Singhvi (not Sanghvi as has been reported all along) and offie Harbhajan Singh are the two spinners assured of playing.

Singhvi, who had an excellent outing for India A in Nagpur, will make his debut while Harbhajan will play his first Test since New Zealand’s India tour in late 1999. The latter’s debut, by the way, was in Bangalore during the Australians’ last visit, in early 1998.

Hirwani, at the moment, can only come into the picture if the powers-that-be field Jawagal Srinath as the solitary specialist quick and get captain Sourav Ganguly to share the new ball.

That, of course, isn’t a strong possibility and there’s every chance that the third spinner’s role will be performed by the most underrated allrounder: Sachin Tendulkar. In fact, the former India captain turned his arm over more than once at this morning’s nets.

[Incidentally, coach John Wright has requisitioned a bowling machine at the workouts.]

Thankfully, absolutely nobody is talking of fielding only five batsmen (plus wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia) and, thereby, accommodating five bowlers. The batting, after all, should never be compromised in the series-launching Test. Certainly not when the opponents are undisputed world champions.

In any case, if four bowlers aren’t good enough, it’s highly unlikely the fifth will deliver. Also, with five around, most captains tend to under-bowl one.

And, so, with two days remaining for Indian cricket’s biggest day in recent times, the likely line-up is: Sadagopan Ramesh, Shiv Sundar Das, Rahul Dravid, Sachin, Sourav, V.V.S. Laxman, Mongia, Ajit Agarkar, Srinath, Singhvi and Harbhajan.

Predictably, there’s much interest on how the wicket will behave and first impressions are that the ball should turn square. That, too, not very late in the game. The typically brownish-red wicket (supervised by Nadeem Memon) did have a bit of grass today, but not a blade should be seen by the time Sourav and Steve Waugh toss.

The last Test at the Wankhede, against South Africa a year ago, didn’t go the distance and Hansie Cronje’s team emerged big winners. Australia last played here in 1986, with the Test ending in a draw.

ITC Hotels logo

Meanwhile, as a stop-gap measure (till a new sponsor is identified), the Indians are wearing the ITC Hotels logo instead of Wills Sport.

   

 
 
EAST BENGAL TOIL TO VICTORY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 25: 
EAST BENGAL 2
MAHINDRA 0

East Bengal got what they wanted — three points to stay on top — but would hardly be elated by the way they got there. Producing a bland variety of soccer, they took the lead through a weird stroke of luck and struggled to protect it before getting the second ten minutes from time.

Today’s win at Salt Lake Stadium took East Bengal’s tally to 22 points from nine games. Mahindra have ten after nine ties.

A freak own-goal by Christopher Kem put the home team ahead in the 37th minute and Sur Kumar Singh got the second goal.

To East Bengal’s credit, they showed the tenacity to hang on when the chips were down and produced that extra bit that helped them get the second goal.

It was hard work for East Bengal, in front of their own goal and at the opposite end, and the outcome could well have been different had Mahindra shown the right mentality. It became evident that the recent slump in form and the absence of a string of key players have dented Mahindra’s confidence as they gave up too easily after entering the danger zone.

For almost the entire second half, the East Bengal defence was under pressure against a team which does not boast of many big names. Even then, they were allowed to play plenty of passes at an area of the pitch where title-aspirants should normally play with a lot more command.

The deep defenders managed to avert danger but just ahead of them, there was no resistance. Also, there was hardly a correct pass and the will to hold the ball, look around, before trying to find the man in the right spot.

After struggling to get a clear look at the goal, East Bengal got the lucky break when Dipankar Roy lobbed one inside the box for Omolaja Olalekan. The Nigerian was following the ball but in tow was Christopher who perhaps didn’t see the goalkeeper advancing. His desperate header to clear the ball from Omolaja’s path ballooned over Virender Singh who saw the ball sail over his head.

After being made to work hard to protect the lead, East Bengal got the second when Dipankar’s clever pass released Sur Kumar down the right. The stocky defender-turned-medio accelerated, shielded the ball from his marker and beat the ’keeper with a cool right-footer to the far post.

TEAMS

EAST BENGAL: Sangram Mukherjee; Suley Musah, Jackson Egygpong, Dipak Mondal, Ratan Singh; Isiaka Awoyemi, Sheikh Sanjib (Sur Kumar Singh, 56), Tushar Rakshit (Chandan Das, 28), Dipankar Roy; Bijen Singh (Srikanta Dutta, 80), Omolaja Olalekan.

MAHINDRA UNITED: Virender Singh; Anthony Pereira, Chirstopher Kem, Habib Adenkule, Ghulam Reza; Sanjay Dayal, S. Venkatesh, Dawood Hussaini, Shamsi Reza (Satish Minz, 72); Abhay Kumar (Khalid Siddique, 80), Raman Vijayan (Manjit Singh, 64).

Referee: P. Bhaskar (Tamil Nadu)

   

 
 
MUMBAI RACES/ NOBLE OPINION WINS CLOSE FINISH 
 
 
BY HONKY DORY
 
 
Mumbai, Feb. 25: In a sizzling-finish, lesser fancied horse Noble Opinion beat another outsider Affability in the rich Poonawalla Breeders’ Multi-million at the Mumbai races on Sunday. B. Prakash partnered the Ganapathy-trainee.

RESULTS

(With inter-state dividends)

1. Lei Plate 2,000m: (1-5-4) Great Alliance (S. M. Johnson) 1; Crown Dream 2; Marion Jones 3. Won by: Nk; 9; (2-11.3). Tote: Win Rs 38; Place: 23; 15; 21; Quinella: 69; Tanala: 599.Fav: Crown Dream (5).

2. Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy 1,000m: (2-5-6) Abbeydoran (Hughes) 1; Raziya 2; Spring Time 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 5; (1-1). Tote: Win Rs 28; Place: 14; 11; Quinella: 17; Tanala: 285. Fav: Raziya (5).

3. Serum International Ltd. Trophy 2,400m: (2-5-1) Torres (Shroff) 1; Sanaga 2; Inimitable 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 3; (2-35.8). Tote: Win Rs 33; Place: 19; 20; Quinella: 63; Tanala: 186. Fav: Torres (2).

4. Enrico Plate 1,600m: (3-2-1) Fantasy Star (McCullagh) 1; Advantage 2; Anxious Moments 3. Won by: 2-3/4; 2; (1-40.9). Tote: Win Rs 28; Place: 15; 35; 20; Quinella: 247; Tanala: 1,562. Fav: Fantasy Star (3).

5. Jasdanwalla Trophy 1,600m: (1-6-7) Desert Pride (McCullagh) 1; Anagram 2; Machrihanish 3. Won by: 7; 2-1/4; (1-38.4). Tote: Win Rs 103; Place: 23; 16; 19; Quinella: 117; Tanala: 1,484. Fav: Crowning Moment (2).

6. Commoner Trophy 1,200m:(4-8-10). Secret Blessing’s (S. Narredu) 1; Safarndo 2; Leit Motif 3. Won by: SH; 2-3/4; (1-14). Tote: Win Rs 115; Place: 24; 19; 47; Quinella: 238; Tanala: 8,646. Fav: Soviet Ride (9).

7. Her Excellency Trophy 1,200m: (6-5-7) Cafe Au Lait (C. Rajendra) 1; Come Prima 2; Millenium Star 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 1/2; (1-15.3). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 16; 21; 24; Quinella: 50; Tanala: 279. Fav: Cafe Au Lait (6).

8. Poonawalla Breeders’ Multi-Million 1,400m: (2-8-14-11) Noble Opinion (B. Prakash) 1; Affability (Shroff) 2; Queenscliff (M. Narredu) 3; Iceberg (McCullagh) 4. Won by: SH; 3-3/4; 4-1/4; (1-25.2). Tote: Win Rs 140; Place: 42; 29; 19; Quinella: 385; Tanala: 3,798. Fav: Starsky (6).

9. Le Gris Cheval Trophy 1,400m: (2-1-7) True Thriller (Gallagher) 1; Consortium 2; Mille Fiori 3. Won by: 4-3/4; 2-3/4; (1-27.3). Tote: Win Rs 19; Place: 11; 21; 18; Quinella: 54; Tanala: 159. Fav: True Thriller (2).

10. Forest Fantasy Plate, Div-I 1,400m: (9-7-4) Moonlight Kisses (P. Chauhan) 1; Sunchyme 2; Tulsa Time 3. Won by: 1-3/4; Nk; (1-29.1). Tote: Win Rs 519; Place: 110; 15; 20; Quinella: 991; Tanala: 15,636. Fav: Fly By Alibi (2).

11. Forest Fantasy Plate, Div-II 1,400m:(2-7-1) Demedicie (C. Rajendra) 1; Sleepyhead 2; Color Me Good 3. Won by: 5-1/2; 3; (1-28.8). Tote: Win Rs 21; Place: 12; 16; 27; Quinella: 71; Tanala: 553. Fav: Demedicie (2).

Jackpot: Rs 6,80,870 (Carried over).

Treble: (i) Rs 1,590; (ii) Rs 11,442; (iii) 12,413.

   

 
 
TRACK TRIALS 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Feb. 25: 
The following track work was noted yesterday.

Outer sand track

1,400m: No Regrets (M. Reuben) in 1-42s; (400m) 28s. Good. The Stud (Rb) and Tsaynen Blue (M. Reuben) in 1-48s; (400m) 31s. Former better.

1,200m: Iron Warrior (Upadhya) in 1-34s; (400m) 29s. Crucible (Rb) and Calamint (Rb) in 1-34s; (400m) 32s. Both level. Ashbury (Rb), Analyzer (Rb) and Highland Flame (Rb) in 1-29s; (400m) 29s. Each was separated by a length. Prince Obolensky (Yadav) in 1-31s; (400m) 32s. Flinders (Rb) in 1-30s; (400m) 31s.

1,000m: Raaz (Rb) in 1-19s; (400m) 31s. Victoria Rose (Dalpat) and Sunset Down (Rabani) in 1-12s; (400m) 29s. Former a length better. Storm Centre (Upadhya) and Bhuthnath (Rb) in 1-14s; (400m) 29s. They were level.

800m: Russian Czar (Rutherford) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Fit. Starina (Yadav) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Easy. Royal Ruler (Rutherford) in 59s; (400m) 28s. Easy. Supreme Desire (P. Kumar) and Madame X (Upadhya) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Both level. Annatto (Gajender) in 57s; (400m) 29s. Alvarada (Surender) in 1-0s; (400m) 31s. John Balliot/ Love Time (Engineer) in 57s; (400m) 28s.

600m: Tribal Worlord (Rb) in 43s; 28s.

Sand track

1,400m: Falconaire (Rb) in 1-43s; (400m) 28s.

1,200m: Peppy Mistress (M. Reuben) in 1-30s; (400m) 27s.

1,000m: Special Sovereign (Rutherford) in 1-10s; (400m) 25s. Fit.

800m: Privy Council (M. Reuben) in 51s; (400m) 25s. Good. Fencai (M. Reuben) in 50s; (400m) 24s.Good. No Surrender (M. Reunben) in 49s; (400m) 24s. Fit.

   
 

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