‘Be consistent with basics’
Paes-Bhupathi in semis
CESC draw away from title
Samrat reign floors top seed
Tapan Memorial enter semi-finals
64 teams in the fray
Ootacamund Racing / Stately Girl may strike
Arni Plate / Rebounding Flame wins

Calcutta, May 5: 
John Wright, currently on ‘vacation’ in Christchurch, returns late Monday night (via Singapore), but the past week has already seen him focussing on India’s next cricket assignment: The tour of Zimbabwe.

“I took a complete break for the first two weeks (after the Australia series) and, then, began putting my thoughts on paper... Much of it, of course, deals with the structure of the upcoming conditioning camp in Bangalore,” Wright told The Telegraph.

As the coach’s next break may only be next year, he “made the most” of this opportunity to spend time with “parents and kids.”

Speaking from his Christchurch residence, Wright added laughing: “Actually, after such an extraordinary five-six weeks, all of us needed a break...”

While India downed Australia 2-1 in the Tests, the world champions wrested the one-day series 3-2. Overall, both India and Wright earned high marks.

Wright, though, was quick to remind the fine performance against Australia was just the “starting point.” In other words, the means to an end, not the end in itself.

“I’ve consistently maintained the year 2001 is a big one for Indian cricket. We’ve begun well, but with three overseas series in succession (Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and South Africa), it’s important to quickly get into rhythm.”

[Significantly, India’s last Test series win outside the sub-continent was back in 1986, when the Kapil Dev-led team beat England.]

Towards that end, Wright will make the short camp (beginning May 14) as “intense” as it possibly can get. It shouldn’t be any different from the camp in Chennai, three months ago, ahead of the Australia series.

According to Wright, “being consistent with the basics” will again make the difference. “Whether you are up against Australia or Zimbabwe, the basics stay the same,” he pointed out.

Wright added: “The confidence that goes with beating a top side is there. But, one has to keep moving. It’s like scoring a century — batsmen wish to keep adding. One becomes two, two becomes three...”

Not even remotely the complacent sort, Wright accepted “Zimbabwe will, at home, be competitive.” His maiden assignment, last November-December, was against Zimbabwe and so he is aware of what that team is capable of.

For the record, India won both the Test and one-day series. At the same time, to Zimbabwe goes the credit for winning the one-off Test on India’s last visit there, in late 1998.

The selectors have named 26 probables and though Chandu Borde and his colleagues didn’t have a tele-conference with Wright, the coach did “convey” his views to captain Sourav Ganguly, who attended the April 22 selection meeting in Vadodara.

Incidentally, while there may have been the odd healthy difference over a Robin Singh or a Sunil Joshi, generally, Wright and Sourav have an excellent understanding.

Asked whether he would have favoured veteran wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia’s presence among the probables, Wright replied somewhat guardedly: “Look, there will always be a couple of good players who will miss out... Some do get unlucky...”

It’s a pretty characteristic public response from the coach. He hates making headlines — even the more positive ones — and certainly wouldn’t like to trigger a controversy.

However, that the wicketkeeper’s slot is bothering Wright came through when he responded pretty positively to the possibility of re-assessing Punjab’s batsman-wicketkeeper Vikram Rathore, whose last India appearance (as batsman only) was in early 1997.

In any case, Rathore (Aashish Kapoor’s brother-in-law) has the right attitude, a quality Wright himself holds dear.

Rathore, therefore, could be back in the reckoning before the year is out. For now, the selectors are only looking at Samir Dighe, Ajay Ratra and Deep Dasgupta.

Dighe has a headstart — ironically, more for his plucky unbeaten 22 on the pulsating last afternoon of the Chennai Test, than tidy work with the big gloves.

Meanwhile, Wright informed both he and physio Andrew Leipus would be running a check on the fitness of the players specifically asked to ‘upgrade’ their level.

This assignment with a difference was handed out at the end of the Australia series, in Margao. For quite a few, then, the fun and games are about to end.

Wright doesn’t compromise.


Calcutta, May 5: 
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi’s wonderful run on clay continues. Their sixth straight win carried them to the semi-finals of the US Men’s Claycourt championship in Houston last night.

According to information received here, the second-seeded Indian duo saw off South Africans Jeff Coetzee and Brent Haygarth 7-5, 6-1 to set up a meeting with third seeds David MacPherson (Australia) and Grant Stafford (South Africa).

This is Paes and Bhupathi’s third consecutive entry into the semi-finals. They fell to top seeds Todd Woodbridge and Jonas Bjorkman at the Monte Carlo Masters but went on to clinch the Atlanta Challenge crown last week.

With two more tournaments to go before the French Open, the Indians’ form augurs well for the year’s second Grand Slam. Paes and Bhupathi, it may be recalled, had conquered Roland Garros in the dream summer of 1999.


Calcutta, May 5: 
Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) squeezed out a 1-0 win over Eastern Railway Sports Association (ERSA) today to move within a draw of the coveted BHA first division group A league title.

While a draw will suffice for CESC in their final game, nothing short of a victory will take close rivals East Bengal to the pinnacle. The two title contenders clash at the East Bengal ground Monday to settle the 2001 championship issue.

CESC, who have 22 points from 12 matches, looked far from convincing in their penultimate fixture today. Aware that a defeat today would push them into a must-win situation in their last tie, CESC adopted safety-first tactics against a team which snatched a point from East Bengal yesterday only.

The defensive mode hardly suited the normally free-flowing frontliners Sunil Soren and Anil Ekka, who found no rhythm even when the team wanted to move up a gear later.

The railwaymen, reconciled to a middle-of-the-table finish, were in no mood for any heroics either. With both teams loathe to go full throttle at the opposition, it made for some monotonous hockey. Good moves were at a premium, mispasses and poor trapping the order of the day.

The only goal came 12 minutes into the match. A routine cross by Gurjit Singh from the right-half position evaded the sticks of a couple of ERSA defenders, drawing goalkeeper Deb Kumar Das out of his charge. He tried the padding-away trick, but only managed a faint touch as the ball travelled to the unmarked Ekka who diverted it into the goal.

The ERSA players claimed the ball had struck Ekka’s foot, but umpire Sokhi stuck to his decision.

Within three minutes of conceding the goal, ERSA had a great opportunity to draw level. B. Minz combined well with Nisar Ahmed to set up Sheikh Siraj six yards in front of the goal. As ’keeper Richard Fanthome rushed forward, Siraj got into a tangle. He tried to retrieve the situation by going for a tumbling reverse-flick, but only managed to send the ball wide.

In the 25th minute, Soren produced a moment of rare magic which almost resulted in a second CESC goal. The little frontliner waltzed past three ERSA men with some deft stickwork and fed Ekka inside the dee with a through ball. Ekka didn’t waste time, but his stiff hit was palmed out by Das.

The second half was almost as listless as the first. For the record, five penalty corners were awarded — three to CESC and two to ERSA. Needless to say, all of them went waste due to faulty stopping or clumsy hitting.

The only real chance in the 35 minutes came Soren’s way, five minutes from full time. He found himself in a one-to-one situation with the goalie, but Das won the duel.

BNR win 5-1

BNR had only 10 players at the Howrah Union ground, but those men were enough to dismiss the hosts 5-1.

Rajat Minz opened the scoring in the eighth minute, C. Jojo added two more before half-time. Minz again and Freddie Ekka made it 5-0 before Mohammad Kasif pulled one back for Howrah Union.

CLW beat CC&FC 3-1, with goals from Sylvanus Tirkey, Anmol Toppo and Sushil Kindo.

CC&FC, who had G. Singh red-carded in the 58th minute, reduced the margin through A. Manikpuri.


Calcutta, May 5: 
Samrat Ghosh proved too powerful for top seed Sabyasachi Bose when it mattered most at the Ad-Out state mini and sub-junior tennis meet. Mocking at the seedings, the No. 2 coasted to the boys’ under-16 singles title with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Sabyasachi in little over 40 minutes at the South Club today.

It was an erratic Sabyasachi all the way as the top seed struggled to find his rhythm. He was far from his dominating semi-final form in which he overpowered Sanjib Mohan 6-1, 6-0.

Samrat, on the other hand, was disciplined and stuck to the basics, and that ultimately made all the difference — good serve, precision returns and exceptionally calm nerves.

The contrast was glaringly obvious in the first set as Samrat raced to 4-0 in just 12 minutes. The fifth game went to 40-all but the top seed again failed to cash in on two easy returns as Samrat grabbed the game and the next one to clinch the set 6-0.

A brief resistance

Sabyasachi showed glimpses of his form when he came back in the second set, breaking Samrat’s service. But any sign of Sabyasachi’s fightback was short-lived.

If a beautifully executed drop shot helped the top seed get a valuable break, he committed two double-faults on his next service game to get back to his erroneous self.

That Samrat had committed his first real mistake, hitting an innocuous Sabyasachi return into the net in the fifth game of the second set, and that his maiden double-fault came in the very last game, spoke of his stupendous form in the match.

Samrat won the rest of the games, and with it the match, with no further drama.

Double for Varsha

Varsha Datta of Assam won both the girls’ under-16 and under-14 titles, beating statemates Sanjukta Barooah and Kasturi Varma respectively.

In contrast to a tiring Kasturi, Varsha looked surprisingly calm under a scorching sun as she rode her precise serves and some exquisite passing shots to a 6-3, 6-0 victory.

An hour later, Varsha again came in the thick of action but stayed always ahead of her fancied rival Sanjukta in terms of verve and vigour as she won the under-16 final 6-1, 6-0.

In another all-Assam boys’ under-14 final, Avinab Bora beat Abhinab Sharma 7-5, 6-1.

RESULTS (singles finals)

BOYS’ under-16: Samrat Ghosh (Ben) bt Sabyasachi Bose (Ben) 6-0, 6-1. Under-14: Avinab Bora (Asm) bt Abhinab Sharma (Asm) 7-5, 6-1. GIRLS’ under-16: Varsha Datta (Asm) bt Sanjukta Barooah (Asm) 6-1, 6-0. Under-14: Varsha Datta (Asm) bt Kasturi Varma (Asm) 6-3, 6-0.


Calcutta, May 5: 
Propelled by Ranabir Nath’s unbeaten 102, Tapan Memorial beat Shyambazar by seven wickets in the quarter finals of the P. Sen Trophy at Eden Gardens today.

Set a victory target of 232, Tapan Memorial suffered early setbacks when they lost three wickets for 78 runs. But an unseparated stand of 154 between Ranabir and Sanjay Bhattacharjee (51) helped their team coast to a comfortable win. Ranabir’s innings came off 105 balls.

Earlier, Subhamoy Das (72) and Amitava Roy (67) guided Shaymbazar to 231 for nine in their allotted 50 overs.

Tapan Memorial meet Mohun Bagan in the semi-finals Monday.

BRIEF SCORES: Shyambazar 231/9 in 50 ovs (Subhamoy Das 72, Amitava Das 67; Rajib Dutta 3/29, Jadge Pal 2/44). Tapan Memorial 232/3 in 44.3 ovs (Ranabir Nath 102 n.o., Sanjay Bhattacharjee 51 n.o.; Debdulal Majumdar 2/40). Tapan Memorial won by 7 wkts.

National HS win big

National High School and Mohammed Jan High School registered big wins in the pre-quarter finals of the CAB under-19 inter-school meet today beating Saifee Hall and Cathedral Mission by 204 runs and nine wickets, respectively.

Batting first, National HS made 352, thanks to Subhojit Paul’s 120 not out and Abhirup Banerjee’s 120. In reply, Saifee Hall were skittled out for 148.

In the other match, an unbeaten 83 by Fakhre Alam helped Mohammed Jan HS cross Cathedral Mission’s total of 162 with consummate ease, losing only Yasir Arafat Khan’s wicket.


National High School 352/3 (including 8 penalty runs) in 39 ovs (Subhojit Paul 120 n.o., Abhirup Banerjee 120). Saifee Hall 148 in 28 ovs (Rabish Pandey 52; Soumya Pal 4/40, Dibyendu Sarkar 3/30). National HS won by 204 runs.

Cathedral Mission HS 162 in 36 ovs (Puneet Rawat 78, Kritwibas Bhattacharjee 24; Hashim Rashid 4/28, Zafar Sami 2/29). Md. Jan HS 166/1 in 26 ovs (Fakhre Alam 83 n.o.). Md. Jan won by 9 wkts.

New Alipore Multipurpose 259/6 (including 8 penalty runs) in 39 ovs (Siddhartha Mukherjee 97, Anindya Das 62; Samrat Guha 3/44). Naktala HS 260/3 in 38.3 ovs (Subhojit Chakraborty 87, Joy Sankar Sarkar 80 n.o., Azhar Ali Mondal 51). Naktala HS won by 7 wkts.

Ajay, Goutam win

The UBI team of Ajay Verma and Goutam Shome, Jr beat CESC’s Sanjiv Goel and Charanjit Singh by five runs to lift the fourth Coal India Independence Cup double wicket cricket meet at the Calcutta University ground today. The winners pocketed Rs 12,000 while the runners-up got Rs. 7.500.



CESC 28 (40-12). UBI 33 (37-4).


UBI 46 (50-4). Wari AC (Pradipta Mazumdar and Avisekh Jhunjhunwala) 25 (33-8).

CESC 40 (48-8). Coal India (Samir Majhi and Subrata Ghosal) 36 (48-12).

Note: 4 runs deducted for each dismissal.


Calcutta, May 5: 
The Telegraph Merchants’ Cup five-a-side football tournament got underway at CC&FC today.

This year’s championship, presented by Seagrams Royal Stag and co-sponsored by Tata Indica and Home Trade.com, has attracted 64 teams which have been divided into eight groups.

The eight seeded teams are: IISCO, Blue Star, Paes En Sport, Williamson Magor, Selvel B, Taj Bengal, Selvel A and Jet Airways.


Ootacamund, May, 5: 
Stately Girl, a four-year-old by Sir Bruce out of Saving Grace, is fancied to lift the 1,800m Silver Dale Plate, the main event at the Ootacamund (Udhagamandalam) races on Sunday. A. Mohan partners the Robert Foley-trained filly.


11.30 am: Stately Girl 1. Master Weaver 2. Legendary Lover 3.

12 noon: Thread Of Gold 1. Pearl Crown 2. Simply Monarch 3.

12.35 pm: Amber Royal 1. Forest Brigand 2. Brightest Star 3.

1.05 pm: Simply Unique 1.Pass The Rest 2. Phraoje 3.

1.35 pm: Star Prospect 1. Soviet Ride 2. Code Word 3.

2.05 pm: Cloud Forest 1. Sea Horse 2. Titan Star 3.

2.35 pm: Gold Symbol 1. De Quest 2. Tropical Chief 3.

Day’s Best: Gold Symbol

Double: Stately Girl & Star Prospect


Udhagamandalam, May 5: 
Ridden by Kariappa, the Mandanna-trained Rebounding Flame won the Arni Plate at the Udhagamandalam races held on Saturday.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Arni Plate 1,600m: (3-6-5) Rebounding Flame (Kariappa) 1; Oracle King 2; Musical Light 3. Won by: 3; 4-1/2; (1-43.1). Tote: Win Rs 11; Place: 10; 24; Quinella: 24; Tanala: 82. Fav: Rebounding Flame (3).

2. Cauvery Plate 1,600m: (3-10-6) Ocean Pearl (Devaraj) 1; San Marino 2; Sultanat 3. Won by: Hd; SH; (1-44.3). Tote: Win Rs 48; Place: 15; 11; 37; Quinella: 36; Tanala: 353. Fav: San Marino (10).

3. Benares Plate 1,200m: (16-8-13) Snow Top (G. Ross) 1; Pearl Of India 2; Mr. Collector 3. Won by: 3-1/2; Nk; (1-13.6). Tote: Win Rs 20; Place: 12; 18; 90; Quinella: 48; Tanala: 4,486. Fav: Rare Symbol (15).

4. Darjeeling Plate 1,200m: (11-1-3) Balma (P. Kumar) 1; Regal Charmer 2; Celtic Venture 3. Won by: SH; 1/2; (1-17.2). Tote: Win Rs 400; Place: 60; 30; 35; Quinella: 984; Tanala: 16,340 (C.o). Fav: Regal Charmer (1).

5. Nandi Hills Plate 1,200m: (10-5-8) Common Spirit (M. Carim) 1; Kasmira 2; Forest Light 3. Won by: 4; 1-3/4; (1-15.5). Tote: Win Rs 61; Place: 42; 13; 57; Quinella: 306; Tanala: 2,289. Fav: Kasmira (5).

6. Narmada Plate 1,400m: (9-11-12) Arctic Charmer (Prem) 1; Power Point 2; Tough Leader 3. Not run: Yul Brynner (8). Won by: 2-3/4; 3-1/2; (1-29.1). Tote: Win Rs 19; Place: 13; 45; 69; Quinella: 428; Tanala: 6,048. Fav: Creator (6).

7. Arcot Plate 1,600m: (15-2-8) Sanctified Star (Prem) 1; Dyanamic Girl 2; Touchin Heights 3. Won by: Dist; 3/4; (1-41.4). Tote: Win Rs 30; Place: 21; 25; 47; Quinella: 708; Tanala: 9,121. Fav: Bold Gold(4).

Jackpot: Rs 26,890 (Carried over on Sunday).

Treble: (i) Rs 74; (ii) Rs 4,178.


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