Mohanty, Bahutule in XV
Esmatara equals U-18 400m mark
‘It’s all about basics’
Saba Karim calls it a day
SAI, BSF in final
Tie in Ambar Roy meet
TCG win 7-1
Bangalore Season/ Restricted fields for better returns

Bangalore, May 17: 
The national selectors produced no surprises for Zimbabwe — in fact, they ‘backed’ the XV tipped by The Telegraph today — and looking very pleased at the end of a generally demanding day was captain Sourav Ganguly.

“Of course, I’m happy with the selection... I had this very squad in mind and, hopefully, we’ll be able to rectify our rather poor record overseas,” Sourav said, after over ten hours at the KSCA Stadium.

For Sourav (as also senior pros Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Jawagal Srinath and coach John Wright), the activities began at around 8 am and ended past six in the evening.

[Though the recuperating Kumble isn’t among the probables, he has been regularly training with them. After all, this is his home turf.]

This included two sessions of workouts and, for Sourav, two meetings as well: With Board emissary Prof. Ratnakar Shetty over contracts/graded payment and the one with the selectors.

Though Board secretary Jaywant Lele and chief selector Chandu Borde — who, thankfully, didn’t put his foot in the mouth this time — briefed the Media, the captain spoke a few words after wiping the day’s training-induced sweat for the last time.

Not very surprisingly, Sourav was asked about the Indian defeat in the one-off Harare Test on the last trip to Zimbabwe (1998) and, perhaps not very surprisingly either, he did get a little irritated.

“Really, we should have won that Test... I know we haven’t been doing well overseas, but I’ve become bored trying to explain that... As I’ve said, hopefully, we’ll now be able to arrest that trend.”

To return to the selection, there effectively was a ‘tussle’ for just one berth: That of the second spinner’s. But even there, leg-spinner Sairaj Bahutule was ahead of the left-arm Rahul Sanghvi.

As reported in these columns, Bahutule is Sourav and Wright’s choice, while most of the selectors were initially of the view the Zimbabweans would be comfortable against a wrist spinner (Bahutule) but would probably not be happy with the conventional left-arm spin of Sanghvi. Clearly, eventually, the captain and coach prevailed. Which is how it should be, for it’s the coach and captain who end up taking the rap.

It’s a little unusual that only two openers have been picked but, as Borde explained, should either Sadagopan Ramesh or Shiv Sundar Das be injured, vice-captain Dravid “will most probably open.” He has, in the past.

In any case, the selection is for the first-half (the two-Test series) of the tour and Borde and his colleagues — Madanlal, Ashok Malhotra, T.A.Sekar and Sanjay Jagdale —- will meet in four weeks, in Mumbai, to make changes for the tri-series. That squad will have one player less.

[The Virender Sehwags and Yuvraj Singhs will then emerge strong contenders. The Dinesh Mongias, too.]

Borde need not have explained the selection of five new-ball bowlers, but he still did, pointing out that a horses-for-courses policy had influenced the composition.

The selectors and the thinktank have got the combination right, it’s for the players to now deliver. No one, perhaps, is more determined than the captain himself.

Meanwhile, there’s a bit of uncertainty over whether the squad, which leaves Mumbai for Harare late on May 24, will travel via Nairobi or Johannesburg. Apparently, the availability of business class seats on the Nairobi-Harare sector is limited and the Indians require all of 18.

Should that not be sorted out, the (longer) Jo’Burg option will be exercised.


Sourav Ganguly (captain), Rahul Dravid (vice-captain), Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Sadagopan Ramesh, Shiv Sundar Das, Hemang Badani, Samir Dighe, Jawagal Srinath, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Debashish Mohanty, Harbhajan Singh and Sairaj Bahutule.    

Calcutta, May 17: 
The 51st state athletics championships got off to a slow and sedate start at the Salt Lake Stadium and SAI complex today.

The athletes, asked to perform in conditions barely suitable for the sport, did well to compete hard and complete their events. It came as no surprise that not a single meet record was rewritten, either in track or field events, although one was equalled.

Esmatara Khatun had that honour, winning the girls’ under-18 400m race with a timing of 59.6 seconds. The North 24 Parganas girl thus equalled Binutaj Khatun’s mark set six years ago.

Of the 12 finals slotted for the afternoon session on Day I, none evoked as much interest as the one featuring Olympian Soma Biswas. The tall girl won the women’s 400m comfortably but was nowhere near her best.

Running in lane 4, Soma surged ahead of the field in next to no time. With no one pushing her, Soma cruised home in 55.8 seconds, ahead of Jyotsna Roy (57.6) and Binutaj Khatun (57.8). Kumkum Mondal’s 12-year-old record of 55.5 thus stayed intact.

The men’s 200m was a close affair, with East Bengal Club’s Sanjoy Biswas and Dipankar Gayen in a neck-and-neck fight. A late burst, in the final 30 metres, helped Sanjoy pip Dipankar by a few hundredths of a second.

RESULTS (All finals)

MEN: 200m: Sanjoy Biswas 22.5 secs, Dipankar Gayen 22.5, Rafiqul Islam 22.7. Triple jump: Majrun Mondal 14.69m, Arun Biswas 13.74, Sanjib Pal 13.24. 1500m: Uttam Biswas, Amitava Roy 4:07.40, Ahmed Raja 4:11.00.

WOMEN: Hammer: Bandita Pandey 37.80m, Iti Majumdar 24.88, Sujata Naskar 24.72. 400m: Soma Biswas 55.8 secs, Jyotsna Roy 57.6, Binutaj Khatun 57.8; Discus: Ramprasad Atta 44.16, Samir Maity 33.12, Susanta Das 32.54; 5000m: Sabita Biswas 17:36.9, Pampa Chanda 18:09.6, W. Kamala Chandu 18:34.0.

BOYS U-20: 200m: Kaushik Chakraborty 23.1, Subhendu Sarkar 23.2, Arnab Saha 23.4. 1500m: Gurucharan Mahato 4:10.5, Prasanto Bapari 4:10.9, Sunil Mondal 4:11.3. Triple jump: Biswanath Oraon 13.82m, Balai Biswas 13.43, Subhendu Mondal 13.32; Discus: Kanchan Kishore Rana 34.11, Mithun Patra 30.93, Baburam Oraon 28.54.

GIRLS U-20: 400m: Ruma Biswas 59.7, Sangita Singh 1:01.1, Bandana Kujur 1:02.1; 5000m: Basanti Biswas 18:27.4, Rupali Mahato 19:53.6, Arati Srivastava 20:22.3.

BOYS U-18: 200m: Satyajit Nandy 23.0, Samaresh Maity 23.3, Sasanka Mondal 23.4. 1500m: Robin Das 4:12.7, Dipankar Das 4:18.6, Ruidas Sardar 4:19.6. Triple jump: Shyam Sundar Mondal 12.89m, Amit Bera 12.70, Uday Debnath 12.14. Discus: Dipak Sinha 39.61m, Arup Das 35.29, Mithun Bal 31.14.

GIRLS U-18: 400m: Esmatara Khatun 12.89, Sujata Samanta 1:01.4, Srirupa Banerjee 1:02.3.

BOYS U-16: Discus: Anad Kumar Prasad 34.25, Santanu Sardar 33.97, Gopinath Roy 33.04.

GIRLS U-16: 400: Sharmishtha Guha 1:01.8, Rekha Haldar 1:01.9, Monika Biswas 1:02.1.


Calcutta, May 17: 
When Sheikh Jahangir and Gourav Sharma were watching the man showing them how a delivery should be bowled with proper hand-eye combination, their eyes said it all — rapt attention, as Rodney Marsh went about teaching them some no-nonsense stuff.

This was just a small picture of the hurricane visit to the city by the Australian Cricket Academy boss and chief consultant of the National Cricket Academy.

Marsh met trainees at the East Zone Academy, rectified their mistakes and checked whether its chief coach Arun Lal and his deputies were following proper procedures of coaching during his first visit to a zonal academy here this morning.

Later, during a question-answer session, he also helped Soujan Biswas and Ajay Garai, Bengal’s highest wicket-taker (33) and run-getter (488) in this year’s Vijay Merchant Trophy respectively, improve their action.

“Coaching is not a work of science, it’s about getting the basics right. I’m here to see these things take place properly,” Marsh said, adding the future of Indian cricket will depend on the products of these academies.

The Australian, who will come back to the NCA in early July, strongly stood by his own academy’s idea of allowing a fast bowler to bowl 40 deliveries a day — a concept also applied in the NCA and other zonal academies.

“It usually happens in an Indian camp where a batsman bats and a bowler keeps on bowling. Such a concept may lead to a fast bowler’s injury quite frequently and finally his premature end,” he opined.

Marsh said the just-concluded Test series between India and Australia “showcased the stuff of which true Test cricket should be made of”, but refused to read too much into the performances of V.V.S. Laxman and Harbhajan Singh.

“They are good, but have to perform consistently to be reckoned as greats,” he said.

On match-fixing, Marsh felt that cricket, with its 124-year old history “is too noble a game to be tarnished by such stray incidents.”

Marsh later called on Asian Cricket Foundation (ACF) president Jagmohan Dalmiya. It was learnt Marsh may get involved with the ACF’s plans of recruiting coaches for different countries in the continent to encourage and promote the game. The forthcoming ACF meeting in Lahore on May 25 is likely to take a decision in this respect.


Calcutta, May 17: 
A damaged eye has forced former Indian wicketkeeper and Bengal captain Syed Saba Karim to take a permanent break from first class cricket.

“My eyes are not behaving properly and I don’t think I’m fit enough to survive the pressure of international matches. So it’s better to call it quits now,” Saba, who played one Test and 34 one- day Internationals, said today.

Speaking to The Telegraph at Eden Gardens this morning, Saba said the decision of his retirement “might be premature”, but “one has to stop today or tomorrow”.

“After I got injured on my right eye in Dhaka last May, I gave myself a year to see whether I was able to be match-fit. I couldn’t, because I have developed a permanent damage in the retina of my right eye.

“It was during a (CAB senior division) League match against Kalighat, I finally arrived at the decision that it’s time to say goodbye to cricket,” Saba said.

Saba was hit on his right eye during the Asia Cup match against Bangladesh on May 30 last year when a rising Anil Kumble delivery deflected off batsman Habibul Bashar’s pads and struck Saba on the eye.

Saba said since that painful experience, he has learnt a lot. “No, I’ve no regret. You should always enjoy the present and the game, as it comes to you. Life has ups and downs and you got to be positive to survive,” he maintained.

About his future plans, he said: “I’ll play for East Bengal at the club level. Apart from broadcasting, I want to do a course on coaching, abroad, soon.”

The wicketkeeper, who came to play for Bengal from Bihar in 1994-95, picked his gritty knock of 26 against Pakistan in Karachi in a one-day International (which India won in the end) as the best of his international career.

“Our 4-1 win against Pakistan in the one-day series in Toronto in 1997 will also come close to the Karachi victory in terms of joy and satisfaction.”

At the domestic level, he picked the Deodhar Trophy triumph under his captaincy as the most satisfying moment.

Lal blasts BCCI

Describing Saba’s decision as a “sad end”, Arun Lal accused the BCCI of having treated the wicketkeeper-batsman as a “child of neglect”.

“Since Saba got injured, nobody from the BCCI even bothered to ask him about his condition, let alone encouraging him to stage a comeback. As if the Board’s attitude was like reject the injured and take a replacement. Had Sachin Tendulkar been injured, would it have been the same treatment?” Lal asked.


(Read as: Matches, innings, not outs, runs, highest score, average, catches, stumpings)

ODIs: 34-27-4-362-55-15.73-27-3

TESTs: 1-1-0-15-15-15-1-0


Calcutta, May 17: 
SAI Training Centre and BSF (North Bengal) advanced to the Lakshmibilas Cup hockey meet final with convincing victories today.

SAI dismissed Khalsa Blues 5-1 at the Mohun Bagan ground. Dinesh Tirkey netted a brace, Atal Tirkey, Pais Ekka and Edmund Karketta one each for SAI, while Parminder Singh pulled one back for the losers.

BSF North Bengal emerged 4-0 victors over Khalsa Model SSS at the East Bengal ground. S. Horo, E. Lakra, A.K. Dungdung and V. Barla scored for the securitymen.

Age-group tennis

The finalists of the Britannia junior age-group tennis tournament were identified today.

SEMI-FINAL RESULTS: Boys U-10: Ranveer Srivastav bt M. Iftekar 8-3, M. Imran bt Bibaswan Deb 8-6. Boys U-14: Biplab Das bt Bibaswan Deb 8-0, Arko Rakshit bt Shrey Deb 8-2. Boys U-18: Subhaditya Nath bt Indradeep Mitra 6-4, 7-6 (7-5); Rishi Chaturvedi bt Varun Oberoi 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Grant for Arindam

Arindam Das, the state’s leading under-19 cricketer who has been called to the NCA in Bangalore, will be granted Rs 10,000 by Sagar Club and Victo Club to purchase special equipment to enhance his skills. The final of the Sagar tournament will be held Saturday. The Victo League final will come off Sunday.    

Calcutta, May 17: 
In an exciting clash, Star Sporting Club CC and School of Cricket, BNR, were engaged in a tie in the Pepsi Ambar Roy sub-junior cricket tournament at Eden Gardens today.

Star Sporting made 138 for five. In reply, School of Cricket were all out on the last ball of the innings.


Star Sporting Club CC 138/5 in 25 ovs (Soumitra Mukherjee 55, Rahul Banerjee 45). School of Cricket BNR 138 in 25 ovs (Sourav Mukherjee 58). Match tied.

Dalhousie CA 220/1 in 25 ovs (Kunal Das 119 n.o., Tarak Mishra 80 n.o.). Milan Samity (Netaji Nagar) 215/5 in 25 ovs (Shasthi Sardar 96, Soumitra Chatterjee 40). Dalhousie CA won by 5 runs.

Gopinath CC 147/5 in 25 ovs (Bikash Singh 83 n.o.). Junior CCC (Uttarpara) 28 in 14 ovs (Tamajit Karmakar 5/12, Kunal Chowdhury 3/4). Gopinath CC won by 119 runs.

Russa United 129/8 in 25 ovs (Aloke Banerjee 53 n.o.; Tapas Sarkar 3/10). Silpashree 130/5 in 24.2 ovs (Ajay Guha 47). Silpashree won by 5 wkts.

CCCC 143/8 in 25 ovs (Dipanjan Poddar 41, Anirban Kundu 36; S. Roy Chowdhury 4/36). Paikpara Sporting Club 144/2 in 22 ovs (Sourav Biswas 61, Soumik Chakraborty 51; Sourav Mukherjee 2/2). Paikpara won by 8 wkts.

Bimalendu Smriti CCC 105 in 23.4 ovs (Dipankar Tapadar 5/17, Mintu Das 3/26). Deshbandhu Park CCC 107/4 (S. Adhikary69). Deshbandhu Park won by 6 wkts.


TCG WIN 7-1 
Calcutta, May 17: 
TCG notched up a 7-1 win over The Telegraph in The Telegraph Merchants Cup soccer meet at CC&FC this evening.

OTHER RESULTS: Paes En Sport bt The Assam Co. Ltd 5-2, HSBC bt Indian Aluminium 5-1, Microwave drew BDA 1-1, Williamson Magor bt Tata Tea 2-0, Bayview Technology bt Skytech 2-0, ITC Infotech bt ICICI ‘Blue’ 1-0, Aptech bt Norinco 3-1, India Foils bt Carritt Moran 3-1, Transways bt Bharat Raut 2-0, TCT bt Smithkline Beecham 4-2, ACCEL ICIM bt Tata Steel B 2-1.


Bangalore, May 17: 
The 24 day Bangalore summer meet scheduled to commence on Saturday and conclude on August 3, will see approximately 725 horses out of the 820 stabled in the BTC premises vying for Rs 5.70 crores stake money which also includes there will be 10 percent incentives earned, additional percent on all stakes earned for horses bred in Karnataka or leased/purchased under BTC scheme and performance linked incentives. Additional 20 percent incentive for horses bred in Karnataka or leased/purchased under BTC scheme in respect of certain specified races now framed in lieu of such races earmarked exclusively for them earlier.

Runners will be saddled by 47 schoolers (Bangalore 37),( Mumbai 4), (Hyderabad 4) and (Calcutta 2). From these schoollers, three will miss part of the season due to suspension for drug offences. They are Ganapathy, Darius Byramji and his father Rashid Byramji.


The UB group has expressed its intention to withdraw sponsorship of the Kingfisher Fillies Trial Stakes and The Kingfisher Colts Trial Stakes. The Chairman Of the BTC informed the press today that they are pursuing the matter with Mr. Vijay Mallya who is at present abroad. In case he sticks to his stand on not sponsoring these races, they will try for other sponsors or bear the cost of stakes themselves which will be the same as last year.

The Sans Craintes Million will now be run as the Juvenile Sprinters, Million following withdrawal of sponsorship by Sans Craintes Stud Farm Pvt. Ltd. The Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, the Knock Out Million and the Dashmesh and Hargobind Stud Million will be sponsored as in last summer.


The number of runners in ordinary races will be restricted to a maximum of 12 with a view to avoid over-crowing for fields, especially when false rails are placed. It is also to ensure optimum betting in the light of earlier experience, where in betting was maximum when there were around 12 runners. Maximum number of races per day would be restricted to 8 on Saturdays and 9 on Sundays.

The Major events of the season are Knock Out Million May 27, Karnataka Cup June 3, Chief Minister’s Cup June 10, Kingfisher Fillies Trial Stakes June 16, Kingfisher Colts Trial Stakes June 17, Juvenile Sprinters Million July 1, Maharaja’s Cup July 8, BTC Anniversary Cup July 14, Kingfisher Derby July 15, Bangalore St. Leger July 22, Dashmesh and Hargobind Stud Million July 29, and The Governor’s Cup August 3.


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