‘I am happy we won on good wickets’
Sachin shines for India
Emotional EB take on spirited ITI
Paltu’da: The last journey
Title for Priyanka
Bangalore Racing/ Ace Academy may win on last day
Bangalore Racing/ Winning Glory scores in a thriller
Calcutta Racing/ Weight factor sunk two favourites

 
 
‘I AM HAPPY WE WON ON GOOD WICKETS’ 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Chennai, March 23: 
If Sourav Ganguly felt mentally drained last evening itself, the physical fallout of ten demanding days with just a two-day break after the first five, was seen this morning: Stiff right quadriceps.

“The one-day series is 48 hours away and I hope it doesn’t aggravate,” Sourav told The Telegraph in his Taj Coromandal suite, as he prepared to leave for the Chepauk and the charity game in aid of Gujarat’s earthquake victims.

Eventually, he had to sit out — in the circumstances, a sensible decision.

The quadriceps, then, took centrestage when the India captain ought to have been reliving every moment of the historic come-from-behind Test series victory over Australia.

As lessons are learnt from success as well, Sourav should also have been reliving the phase when India made such heavy weather (of the 155 target) that even a blizzard on an Everest climb would have been akin to strolling the promenade.

“Of course, we made it tough for ourselves but, then, look at the result. Even in the camp, ahead of the series, I had said just how good the Australians are will be proved in India. Also, that they are not unbeatable. I’ve been proved right and, what I’m most happy about, is we won on good wickets (Calcutta and here),” Sourav added.

In fact, Steve Waugh had no complaints about the pitch, both at the Eden and Chepauk.

Smiling on reading the complimentary references to his captaincy in the Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri columns, Sourav remarked: “It does, actually, feel great... A win in such a big series... It has made me forget my own disappointment (a mere 106 runs)... Only, as I pointed out yesterday, there’s always a next series and I’ll have to be successful twice over.”

India’s next Test series will, by the way, be in Zimbabwe this summer. The two Tests will he held in Harare and Bulawayo, both in June.

According to Sourav, the team’s will to fight back and not let shoulders drop made much of the difference. Superb individual performances — from the Harbhajan Singhs and V.V.S. Laxmans — made it easier. “We should talk of Team India,” insisted Sourav, a trifle emotionally.

That’s how it should be, but plenty of credit to Sourav as well, who has done both a Mike Brearley and a W.G. Grace in the past week. From backing (“Having faith,” as Srinivas Venkatraghavan put it) Harbhajan to the hilt, to re-working strategy with coach John Wright to being aggressive...

[Grace was the captain, in 1888, when the first come-from-behind victory in a three-Test series was registered. Brearley was the last captain (before Sourav), in 1981, to lead a team to success even after following-on.]

Clearly, the past few weeks have changed Sourav and the difference is not just reflected in his waistline. “I suppose all this goes with the captaincy,” Sourav quipped.

Even if that’s to be treated lightly, not so the man-management component. And, Sourav will surely have to do his bit to ensure Harbhajan stays level-headed. “I think he will... Having gone through so much (controversies, specially) so early in life, Harbhajan is bound to remain steady. He has the potential to be the world’s No. 1 off-spinner.”

Deserving praise from the captain and this made Harbhajan feel even better. Speaking exclusively, he stated: “Yes, it’s important to have the captain’s trust... I’m happy I was allowed to contribute in the manner I did, but I realise my innings has just begun. Aaj subah to lekin bahut hi khoobsurat thi... This morning was so different.”

With a record-erasing 32 wickets in three Tests, the morning after the biggest day of Harbhajan’s career could scarcely have been otherwise. It’s the morning-after effect.

Incidentally, last evening, the team celebrated the Australian way: Trooping to the city’s hottest bar, at the Park Sheraton. Later, an appearance was made at MayaJaal, a popular entertainment theme park.

As it was at the Chepauk, fans there weren’t disappointed.

   

 
 
SACHIN SHINES FOR INDIA 
 
 
FROM INDRANIL MAJUMDAR
 
Chennai, March 23: 
INDIA 338/8 (40 ovs)
AUSTRALIA 184 (27.1 OVS)

Less than 24 hours after the end of a gruelling Test series, the Indian and Australian teams were back in the middle at the Chepauk in aid of victims of the Gujarat earthquake.

For the Indians, it was an opportunity to give the one-day squad a chance to get a feel of the Australians ahead of the first match in Bangalore Sunday.

Australia decided to rest their players, with most of those who played in the third Test, except Justin Langer and Colin Miller, not even making it to the ground.

Greg Matthews, a hero of the 1986 tied Test, and former stumper Wayne Philips completed the line-up. Jock Campbell, fitness adviser to the team, also got a chance to display his cricketing skills, picking up two wickets. Often, coach John Buchanan was left to carry the drinks tray to the ground.

The Rahul Dravid-led team enthralled the 35,000-odd turnout with a 154-run victory under lights after the Indians notched up 338 for eight in 40 overs.

Importantly for India, Jawagal Srinath got a chance to prove his fitness. He bowled at full pace, picking up two wickets. He, however, was not present on the field after the five-over spell.

For Sachin Tendulkar, who opened the innings with Sadagopan Ramesh, it mattered little that he was playing an exhibition match. He was his usual self and smashed 93 off 49 balls with 18 fours and two sixes.

He was caught by Nathan Bracken off Michael Kasprowicz. Ramesh (35) followed suit with the addition of only six more. Hemang Badani (55 off 41 balls) and Vijay Dahiya (50) were also among the runs.

When the visitors chased, Michael Bevan adapted well to the pace of the wicket with a free-stroking 58. Justin Langer (53), too, was among runs. Virender Sehwag was the most successful Indian bowler, taking three for 19.

The only time the Aussies tried to exert some pressure was when Ajit Agarkar made his way to play the last ball of the innings.

A five-man slip cordon, with Damien Fleming threatening to bowl at full pace, greeted him. Agarkar defended coolly for a single.

The visitors, however, are going to give little leeway when it matters most. They are determined to forget the Test series as a bad dream and focus on the forthcoming engagements.

As Steve Waugh stressed yesterday, the Indians will be in a better mental shape after the Tests, but the world champions will have a lot at stake to defend.

The arrival of Bevan, Andrew Symonds, Darren Lehmann, Bracken and Ian Harvey is sure to serve as a major boost to their confidence and also allow them to try out new combinations. The presence of Matthew Hayden will also come in handy. He will be eager to maintain his devastating form in the one-dayers.

It, however, remains to be seen whether the Aussies will try Hayden in the opening slot, disturbing the established pair of Mark Waugh and Adam Gilchrist.

BRIEF SCORES: India 338/8 in 40 ovs (Sachin Tendulkar 93, Hemang Badani 55, Vijay Dahiya 50, Sadagopan Ramesh 35). Australia 184 in 27.1 ovs (Michael Bevan 58, Justin Langer 53, Virender Sehwag 3/19). India won by 154 runs.

   

 
 
EMOTIONAL EB TAKE ON SPIRITED ITI 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 23: 
With the club mourning the passing away of one of its ‘pillars’, everything has come to a standstill at the East Bengal Club. There was no practice this morning, with the players trooping to the club only to join the highly charged emotional send-off farewell of a man who meant so much to the club.

From a football point of view, it’s hardly the sort of preparation the National League leaders would have wanted before a crucial clash. But, then, the death of Paltu Das may well turn out to be the final spark in their gruelling march towards a title they have never won.

For a team that has almost always excelled as the underdog, a crisis is capable of stirring up resolve. As the players pledged over the body of Das “to win the League for you”, most would have believed they will.

At the Salt Lake Stadium tomorrow, as ITI gets the first taste of an emotionally charged East Bengal, Manoranjan Bhattacharya would do well to ensure that this outpouring does not drown technical and tactical skills. The need of the hour will still be a win.

ITI arrive here on a high, having won their last couple of matches, against Mahindra United and FC Kochin. They have, in fact, done East Bengal a great favour by beating second-placed Kochin but hoping they will do one better by surprising the League leaders.

They have done that once, in their home match, but the script has taken many a twist and turn since.

East Bengal have a problem in defence, where Jackson is almost certain to sit out because of injury. Suley Musah, the other Ghanaian in the side, will move in to fill that slot with Sur Kumar Singh coming back as the right-back. There will be adjustments in midfield as well, with the highly active Dipankar Roy having to miss the match because of double booking. Either of Sheik Sanjib or Bijen Singh may step out of his role as a striker to join the medios.

ITI too have a couple of regulars missing. Left-half Naushad and Iraqi defender Majid are both booked out of this match.

One of East Bengal’s problems may well be what lies on the ITI sidelines. A star of many a battle for the ‘Big Three’ of the city, Mohammad Habib is the coach of ITI and he will know a thing or two about their opponents.

Though ITI, 15 points from 14 matches, have played themselves out of the ‘relegation zone’ for the moment, the threat lingers and Habib is keen to go back with a point or three.

“The teams at the bottom are suddenly producing some good results, so we have to make sure we keep picking up points,” he said. He spoke of inconsistency in his team’s performance.

There is bound to be another thought at the back of his mind when the team takes the field tomorrow.

ITI have a very poor record on the road.

JCT taste maiden win

JCT Mills tasted their maiden victory when they defeated Mahindra United 1-0 in Ludhiana today, reports PTI.

The all important goal was scored by Hardip Singh Gill in the 55th minute after the first half remained goalless.

   

 
 
PALTU’DA: THE LAST JOURNEY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 23: 
Having risen through the ranks to prove he was by far East Bengal’s most prominent official, Dipak ‘Paltu’ Das showed in death that he had transcended even those boundaries.

Barriers came down as ministers, top sports officials, footballers, cricketers, hockey players joined thousands to pay their last respects on his last journey — which began at his home on Sitaram Ghosh Street, meandered through the Maidan and ended at the Nimtala Ghat crematorium.

The local people had erected a podium from where the journey began. The casket was laid on it.

Sailen Manna, Chuni Goswami, Gurbux Singh, Shyam Thapa, Byomkesh Bose, Sukumar Samajpati, Parimal Dey, Syed Nayeemuddin, Krishanu Dey, Krisnendu Roy, Prasanta Banerjee, Sisir Ghosh, Tarun Dey, Syed Saba Karim, Subroto Banerjee... The list of former players was long. Of course, there was the present lot with coach Manoranjan Bhattacharya.

Ministers Kshiti Goswami and Subhas Chakraborty were there. As was mayor Subrata Mukherjee and Congress leader Somen Mitra. At the CAB, its president Jagmohan Dalmiya and joint-secretary Debdas Banerjee placed a wreath on behalf of the association. At the IFA, Ranjit Gupta did the same as did Gurbux at the BHA. When the hearse reached Mohun Bagan, secretary Anjan Mitra, coach Subrata Bhattacharya were around to bid goodbye.

But the crowd really gathered once the casket came to the East Bengal tent, and was laid in the ‘hall’.

It was Paltu’da’s last visit to a place you would always find him, day after day.

BHA matches put off

BHA postponed its league matches today as a mark of respect to Das.    

 
 
TITLE FOR PRIYANKA 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 23: 
Priyanka Parekh crushed Reedhina to lift the women’s title at the Open grasscourt tennis meet today. Dominating her sister, the top seed, with some controlled aggression, the second-seeded Priyanka won 7-5, 6-1.

Top seed Abhisek Jagnani and Dhruv Kumar entered the men’s final. Jagnani cruised past Simon Chakraborty 6-1, 7-5, Dhruv struggled past Rupesh Roy 7-6, 6-4.

RESULTS: Women’s final: Priyanka Parekh bt Reedhina Parekh 7-5, 6-1. Men’s semi-finals: Abhisek Jagnani bt Simon Chakraborty 6-1, 7-5; Dhruv Kumar bt Rupesh Roy 7-6, 6-4.

Bengal squad named

The IFA today announced the Bengal squad for the first two matches against the Malaysian national women’s football team.

THE SQUAD: Goalkeepers: Sujata Sinha, Namita Bag and Ranjita Khan; Defenders: Rehana Khatun, Madhavi Ghosh, Prarthana Priyadarshini, Jayanti Barua and Dulali Ghosh; Midfielders: Alpana Sil, Nausaba Alam, Lata Ghosh, Sujata Nandy and Sharmila Sapui; Forwards: Sujata Kar, Shanta Dhara, Sayanti Nandy, Shefali Chowdhury and Rinkoo Ghosh. Coach: Kuntala Ghosh Dastidar. Assistant Coach: Shukla Dutta

   

 
 
BANGALORE RACING/ ACE ACADEMY MAY WIN ON LAST DAY 
 
 
FROM WILLIAM TELL
 
Bangalore, March 23: 
Ace Academy, a reputed Stayers from Mohan Valavi’s yard, with Shobhan Babu in the saddle, looks the best to lift the 2,200m Racing Patrons Trophy, the main attraction of tomorrow’s the closing day of the winter season.

SELECTIONS

2.30 pm: Guide 1. Omni Presence 2. Dunhill Star 3.
3 pm: Brora 1. Great Occasion 2. Mera Ladlaa 3.
3.30 pm: Nobody’s Angel 1. Aryawun 2. Soul Of Gold 3.
4 pm: Ace Academy 1. Hong Kong Boy 2.
4.30 pm: Al Habib 1. Axe 2. Financer 3.
5 pm: Another Crown 1. Empress Of India 2. Triple King 3.
5.30 pm: Cape Fear 1. Dynamic Gamble 2. Careless Beauty 3.

Day’s Best: Ace Academy

Double: Al Habib & Another Crown
   

 
 
BANGALORE RACING/ WINNING GLORY SCORES IN A THRILLER 
 
 
BY TITAN BOY
 
Bangalore, March 23: 
In a thrilling-finish, apprentice Harish partnered the Rashid Byramji-trained Winning Glory to victory in the 1,400m Rohini Cup on Friday, the penultimate meet of the Bangalore winter racing season.

RESULTS

(With inter-state dividends)

1. Katil Plate, Div-II 1,100m: (7-6-4) Superbe Asset (Prakash) 1; Shara 2; Incarnation 3. Won by: SH; 1-3/4; (1-11.1). Tote: Win Rs 22; Place: 13; 14; 17; Quinella: 33; Tanala: 120. Fav: Superbe Asset (7).

2. Ramnagar Plate 2,000m: (5-15-11) Royal Glare (Guruprasad) 1; Selected Princess 2; Shy Dancer 3. Won by: 1/2; 1/2; (2-14.1).Tote: Win Rs 97; Place: 23; 53; 172; Quinella: 848; Tanala: 26,021. Fav: My Goddness (2).

3. Katil Plate, Div-I 1,100m: (9-2-4) Fizaa (Appu) 1; Architech 2; Crystal Ocean 3. Won by: 3; 4; (1-9.6). Tote: Win Rs 29; Place: 14; 12; 40; Quinella: 32; Tanala: 609. Fav: Architech (2).

4. Amaravathi Cup, Div-I 1,200m: (2-9-3) Annodomini (Appu) 1; Anzac 2; Jungle Cat 3. Won by: Hd; 2-1/4; (1-16.2). Tote: Win Rs 93; Place: 21; 27; 16; Quinella: 251; Tanala: 10,383. Fav: Jungle Cat (3).

5. Rohini Cup 1,400m: (8-9-7) Winning Glory (Harish) 1; Alluring Bay 2; Priceless Ally 3. Won by: Nk; 1/2; (1-28.5). Tote: Win Rs 52; Place: 21; 42; 19; Quinella: 360; Tanala: 2,746. Fav: Pride Of Estates (1).

6. R. J. Rebello Memorial Plate 1,200m: (1-6-3) Bank Of Promise (Appu) 1; Aznu 2; Measure By Measure 3. Won by: 1/2; 1-1/2; (1-16.1). Tote: Win Rs 39; Place: 18; 31; 30; Quinella: 200; Tanala: 2,179. Fav: Lady Chesterford (4).

7. Sardar D. Devaraj Urs Memorial Plate 1,600m: (5-8-3) Great Aswaraaj (Shukla) 1; Fereneze 2; Silver Hope 3. Won by: 3/4; 1-1/2; (1-41.6). Tote: Win Rs 153; Place: 37; 18; 19; Quinella: 283; Tanala: 2,294. Fav: Mayfair (2).

8. Amaravathi Cup, Div-II 1,200m: (8-3-4) Pink Squirrel (Krishnan) 1; Moonlight Rays 2; Barassie 3. Won by: 4-1/2; 1/2; (1-16.9). Tote: Win Rs 51; Place: 18; 56; 18; Quinella: 598; Tanala: 10,433. Fav: Pink Squirrel (8).

Jackpot: Rs 84,399 (Carried over); (C) Rs 7,234.

Treble: (i) Rs 3,299; (ii) Rs 6,347.
   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACING/ WEIGHT FACTOR SUNK TWO FAVOURITES 
 
 
BY STAR RACER
 
Calcutta, March 23: 
With the season nearing closure, horses carefully nursed at the weights are beginning to surface. Therefore the victory of three outsiders in the March 21 race-card, which took the moderate attendance by surprise, needs to be taken in the right spirit. Form otherwise held well and rest of the seven event-card saw the dominance of strongly fancied winners.

Two of the three shock winners, who stormed home in as many trophy events, enjoyed significant weight advantage from the favourites. In fact, both played a catch-me-if-you-can game, establishing a commanding lead right after the start, which worked to their advantage.

Alamito was first to do so in the 1,600m Dashmesh & Hargobind Stud Grand Annual Handicap. With Accrete quoted as a hot-favourite following his runaway victory in the CROS Cup over 1,400m, the only possible way to outwit champion jockey Cristopher Alford on the topweight was to catch the Serious Spender-Thanksgiving colt unawares.

Rabani did not allow Alamito to bolt in front but had the Twist And Turn-Bailla Reus colt well in control until the 800m marker where a breather given to the Bharath Singh-trainee helped his cause. Once he loosened his grip, Alamito strode away from Accrete who was always in close attendance till then.

Software, posted the biggest upset of the season in the 1,400m Bookmakers’ Cup because she was tho-ught to be suspect over the slated trip. In her last outing over an identical distance, the Gold Discovery-filly from H. S. Bath’s yard had folded up after exhibiting speed until the home-turn, prompting one to believe that it was an exercise to come down a class.

On this day, she went clear of the field soon after the flag-fall and entered the home-stretch with a commanding lead of nearly six lengths. More importantly, Amil continued to keep her under pressure and she did not appear to shorten strides until the last 100m. Her strong performance, however, made the task of Robert Gowli on the favourite Madame X further stiff as he had taken the home-turn seven-wide for no rhyme or reason. Aspiring for her third straight win, the F. Rodrigues-trainee lives to fight another day.

The lesser fancied John Stephens ward Kargil Soldier in the Cradle Of The Deep Handicap, the first leg of the jackpot event, had caused a major setback to pool hunters in between the two trophy events. His stablemate Glass Slipper claimed chunk of support but remained crowded for room throughout the trip. Gowli was seen at his enterprising best on the winner.

Rodrigues, however, led in his winner in the curtain-raiser, the Dalkeith Handicap, when the 2-1 fancy Supr-eme Desire just about managed to beat the other two in the betting — Nearco Prince and Ghunghat. Ghunghat could have delivered the goods but for the weak handling of jockey Nasruddin. The Arun Goenka-trainee may pick up a race before the season ends.

The results of the Bangalore Turf Club Cup on March 7 had a direct bearing on the outcome of the two divisions of the Deep Water Blues Handicap. Alkido and Cool Quest, the two horses who had finished behind the winner Silver Toy in that race, registered their wins in the Class III race. It makes a strong case for those who placed behind in close order, as coming winners.

   
 

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