Sourav eyes tour on positive note
Mohali set to host ODI vs England
Ancheri looking forward to EB stint
Rome defeat worst of my career: Leander
5 records fall as meet comes alive on Day II
Title for SAI
Too early to comment, says Sourav
Easy for Transworld
BCA ride twin tons to victory
Bangalore Races/ ‘Heaven’ for Day I feature

Bangalore, May 18: 
It’s only late on May 24 that the Indian cricketers leave for Zimbabwe, from Mumbai, but the ‘send-off’ at the KSCA Stadium this afternoon was as warm as it could be in Mumbai or elsewhere.

At least 500-odd fans managed to park themselves on the terraces to the left of the Club House, towards the end of the six-day conditioning camp, and there were another 500-odd who waited near the team bus.

There were repeated chants of “All the best” and “All the best Sourav (Ganguly)” from the lot inside the Stadium proper initially and, then, from the ones near the bus, as the cricketers departed.

Then, there was the individual touch, too. Like when Anil Kumble hugged Harbhajan Singh and wished him “good luck.” It’s a pity no lensmen were around as it would have made a terrific picture: The guru offering words of encouragement to a self-declared shishya.

Before the camp formally ended, coach John Wright gave his customary ‘vote of thanks,’ appreciating the work put in by everybody. From a distance, one could see Rahul Dravid and Mohammed Kaif being applauded by fellow-cricketers and, as Wright told The Telegraph, they deserved it.

“Look, to encourage healthy competition and not to make things monotonous, I had made four teams and Team Yellow (under Dravid’s captaincy) emerged best. As for Kaif, I believe his effort throughout was outstanding and I picked him the Player of the Camp...”

Not that it’s consolation enough, but the coach’s nomination would still have made Kaif feel a little better. Yesterday, the gifted middleorder bat again failed to make the cut.

In the team ‘competition’, maximum points were awarded for fielding and Team Yellow clearly was superior to the other three. Dravid’s teammates were Sachin Tendulkar, Ajit Agarkar, Samir Dighe, Harvinder Singh, Dinesh Mongia and Surinder Singh Bagal.

Meanwhile, talking to the Media, captain Sourav felt “too many negative things” were being spoken about. He was reacting to yet another question on India’s poor record away from home. India’s last win overseas, outside the sub-continent, was in England in 1986.

Of course, Sourav didn’t do a repeat of last evening and say he was “bored” fielding such queries, but still managed to convey he didn’t quite enjoy the questions.

“I’ve never been the negative sort and, so, I won’t talk about the past. The team and I will leave with and arrive in Zimbabwe with positive thoughts only,” the captain declared.

Sourav acknowledged (again) he was aware he himself hadn’t got runs in the last series (versus Australia), and suggested the law of averages would now work in his favour.

Actually, Sourav’s last Test fifty (65 not out) was in the second innings of the first Test against Zimbabwe, at the Kotla last November. And, it’s been 21 innings since his last century — 125 versus New Zealand in Ahmedabad.

That hasn’t diminished Sourav’s popularity, though. Bangaloreans mobbed him as much as the Sachins and Dravids.


Bangalore, May 18: 
Now that the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) is off the Board’s blacklist, Mohali (just off Chandigarh) will be back to staging international cricket. In fact, a one-dayer is planned there during England’s visit this coming winter.

According to The Telegraph’s Board sources, Mohali is one of the venues shortlisted for the five one-dayers, next January. The other centres (in random order) are: Calcutta, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad.

[Hyderabad, too, will be returning to the circuit after being shunned for the appalling conduct of the India-New Zealand one-dayer there in November 1999.]

Mohali hasn’t staged international cricket after the India-New Zealand Test in October 1999. It ought to have got a game against Australia, during the recent series, but the itinerary was finalised well before the PCA was ‘welcomed’ back within the Board.

Incidentally, Mohali is one of three venues in India to have hosted a World Cup semi-final. The others are Mumbai and Calcutta. Of course, Calcutta has also hosted a final.

It’s unfair that a star-spangled personality clash made Mohali suffer because, really, the facilities there are outstanding. Indeed, the PCA may even feel disappointed at not being considered for one of the three Tests against England.

Tentatively, the Tests will be played (in random order) in New Delhi, Ahmedabad and Bangalore.

The India-England series will be in two phases: The Tests in November-December, with the one-dayers mid-January onwards. This split-tour isn’t our Board’s idea but that of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

Basically, England’s cricketers want to be home for Christmas and New Year and the ECB has fallen in line with their wishes.


Calcutta, May 18: 
Having spent a couple of none-too-successful seasons with Mohun Bagan earlier, Jo Paul Ancheri is now looking forward to a fresh stint at the erstwhile Mecca of Indian football.

After signing for East Bengal along with long-time partner I.M. Vijayan yesterday, Ancheri today said he always wished to play for the red-and-gold brigade.

Speaking from Bangalore, the versatile player said: “I’ve always thought of playing for East Bengal and this was my best chance. I also had offers from Mohun Bagan and Mahindras.”

The former FC Kochin star added playing alongside Vijayan was also an added incentive since the other bidders were not too keen on the ageing striker.

About the new National League champions, Ancheri said he did not know much about coach Manoranjan Bhattacharjee. “I know he was a great player but have hardly played against a team coached by him.

“But Vijayan has told me he is a good coach and knows how to use each player, how to bring out the best from them. It’s because of him that East Bengal have won the National League.”

However, Ancheri, arguably India’s best performer in the on-going pre-World Cup campaign, informed he won’t be able to join his new club soon.

“After our final match against Brunei Sunday, we’ll probably have the Merdeka Cup camp which is likely to be followed by the England tour. So I don’t really know when exactly I can start practising with East Bengal.”


Calcutta, May 18: 
Nine days after snatching defeat against Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt in the first round of the Rome Masters Series, Leander Paes still can’t fathom how it happened.

Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, who went into the $2.9 million event on an eight-match winning streak, blew a match-point in set II and a 5-0 lead in the decider to surrender 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 5-7.

“That was some night... don’t know how we lost it,” Paes told The Telegraph at home this morning shortly after checking in for a three-day break. “We were serving for the match at 5-3 in the second set, couldn’t hold on. Then we had Hewitt serving 0-5, 0-30 in the final set, but just couldn’t get those two points to close out the match.”

A little under weather due to an attack of cough and cold, Paes saluted Agassi for spearheading a fantastic turnaround. “He doesn’t play doubles regularly, but we all know the shots he can produce. In the third set, he returned unbelievably well. Of course, we hurt ourselves by missing some easy shots,” Paes observed.

Describing the Rome defeat as the worst of his career, Paes said the closest he could compare it with was a singles loss to Agassi — at the 1996 US Open. “I took the first set and had him serving at 1-4, 15-40 in the second, but couldn’t take either of those two points for a 5-1 lead.”

The Rome disappointment was followed by another first-round exit — at the Hamburg Masters Series Monday. “I wasn’t well at all that day. We played badly, we were too flat,” Paes said about the straight-set rout at the hands of another non-regular doubles pair Nicolas Kiefer and Nicolas Lapentti.

Paes attributed his indisposition to too much tennis of late. “We have been playing non-stop for over a month now. In Atlanta and Houston all our matches were at night. Houston was particularly bad as we finished our semi-final at 1.45 am and came back before noon the next day for the final. This hectic activity has caught up with me, I guess.”

Confident of recovering in time for the French Open doubles events, Paes welcomed this forced holiday. “I badly needed this break, it’ll stand me in good stead for the long summer ahead.”

Neither is Paes worried about their temporary loss of form after a fabulous three-tournament run. “We have got a bunch of matches under our belt and some good wins as well. Our confidence level is high and we should be prepared for any opposition when we go to Paris.”

Paes has never been short on confidence all his career. Now, he needs it more than ever before and even rub it off on his partner as they set out for an encore of 1999.


Calcutta, May 18: 
The 51st state athletics championships, being staged at the Salt Lake Stadium and the SAI Eastern Centre, came alive on its second day with five records tumbling and a few favourites being upstaged.

The under-16 boys were the most active when it came to writing new marks, with Rahmatullah Molla of South 24 Parganas (100 m), Hari Sankar Roy of Jalpaiguri (high jump) and Birnath Singh of Midnapore (shot put) getting into the act.

The other records came in women’s events, Eastern Railway’s Mukti Saha bettering the mark in the 200 m and Ratna Naskar of South 24 Parganas erasing the one in discus throw.

Among those shocked was Olympian Soma Biswas. She was relegated to silver in the women’s long jump by Kalpana Das.

Mukti Saha, who added the 200 only recently to her pet events 100 and 100 hurdles, gave ample evidence that it was a choice well made as she finished a second ahead of the rest of the field.

Hari Sankar Roy said he was his own coach when it came to training, a strange thing for a budding athlete.


Men — 100 m: Arup Chatterjee (Siliguri) 10.7 secs. Shot put: Ram Prasad Atta (Mohun Bagan) 13.03 m. High Jump: Ujjal Mahapatra (Midnapore) 1.85 m. 800 m: Argha Majumder (Central Excise) 1:56.3 secs. 5000 m: Ahmed Reja (North 24 Parganas) 15:35.4 secs. 110m hurdles: Bimal Das (Mohun Bagan) 15.7 secs.

Boys Under-20 — 100 m: Sujay Das (Siliguri) 11.1 secs. 110 m hurdles: Raghunath Adhikari (Aryan Club) 17.9 secs. 800 m: Prasanta Bapari (North 24 Parganas) 1:58.7 secs. Under-18 — 100 m: Subrata Das (North 24 Parganas) 11.3 secs. 800 m: Sujit Biswas (Nadia DSA) 2:02.5 secs. High jump: Avijit Mondal (South 24 Parganas) 1.70 m. Shot put: Santu Jha (Malda) 11.97 m. 110 m hurdles: Ujjal Burman (North Dinajpur) 15.6 secs. Under-16 — 100 m: Rahmatullah Molla (S. 24 Parganas) 11.2 secs. New meet record of 11.1 by Molla in heats (Old 11.2 by Soumen Mondal of Nadia in1999-00). 800 m: Dulal Ghosh (Malda) 2:06.9 secs. High jump: Hari Sankar Roy (Jalpaiguri) 1.82 m. New meet record (Old 1.81 by Md Kasem Ali Mollah of Nadia in 1995-96). Shot put: Birnath Singh (Midnapore) 12.03 m. New meet record (Old 11.73 by Rajib Singh of North 24 Parganas in 1995-96). Under-14 — Pentathlon: Purna Chandra Burman (North Dinajpur) 2,984 points.

Women — 200 m: Mukti Saha (Eastern Railway) 24.4 secs. New meet record (Old 25.2 by Rekha Chakraborty of City AC in 1988). Long jump: Kalpana Das (Eastern Railway) 5.87 m. 10km walk: Sulachana Barik (City AC) 1::02:15.0 secs. Discus: Ratna Naskar (South 24 Parganas) 38.53 m. New meet record (Old 38.20 by Kakali Dutta of Eastern Railway in 1998). 1500 m: Sabita Biswas (Eastern Railway) 4:45.9 secs.

Girls Under-20 — 200 m: Shukla Dowri (Howrah) 26.8 secs. 10km walk: Ruma Bhattacharjee (North 24 Parganas) 1::06:27.0 secs. 1500 m: Basanti Biswas (North 24 Parganas) 4:51.0 secs. Under-18 — 200 m: Deepa Das (North Dinajpur) 26.00 secs. 5km walk: Binata Mondal (South 24 Parganas) 37:12.0 secs. Long jump:Anjali Shee (Hooghly) 5.25 m. Discus: Poonam Rani (Howrah) 25.95 m. 1500 m: Sujata Samanta (Srirampore) 4:55.6 secs. Under-16 — 3 km walk: Rima Saha (North 24 Parganas) 19:00.0 secs. Discus throw: Dipali Ghosh (Malda) 27.83 m. Long jump: Jashminara Khatun (South 24 Parganas) 5.10 m. Under-14 — Pentathlon: Safina Khatun (BPJKOSS) 2,276 points.


Calcutta, May 18: 
The SAI Eastern Centre hockey team today beat BSF, North Bengal, 4-2 via the tie-breaker to win the Lakshmibilas Cup.

Edmund Kerketta, Stephen Kujur, Atal Tirkey and Manoj Kujur converted strokes for the winners after regulation time ended 0-0. J. Horo and P. Kalmuna were the scorers for BSF.

Age-group tennis

Second seed Mohammed Imran beat No. 1 Ranvir Srivatsav 6-3, 6-3 in the under-10 final of the Britannia junior age-group tennis tournament at Ordnance Club.

OTHER RESULTS (semi-finals) — Boys’ U-14: Ranjan Prasad bt Arko Probho Rakshit 6-4, 6-0; Biplab Das bt Tohid Alam 6-2, 6-0. Boys’ U-16: Sabyasachi Bose bt Biplab Das 6-2, 6-1; Abdesh Roy bt Rohit Srivatsav 4-6, 6-0, 6-2. Boys’ U-18: Dhruv Kumar bt Rishi Chaturvedi 6-3, 6-3; Subhaditya Nath bt Sabyasachi Bose 6-2, 2-6, 6-0. Girls’ U-16: Priyanka Parekh bt Moni Sewa 6-0, 6-1; Hina Valecha bt Rupsa Roy 6-1, 6-1.

Table tennis camp

The Bengal Table Tennis Association-organised summer coaching camp will be held at Khudiram Anushilan Kendra from May 21 to June 20. About 120 players are expected to attend the camp to be conducted by 12 coaches.

The association will also felicitate Bengal paddlers Poulami Ghatak, Mouma Das, Sourav Chakraborty and Subhajit Saha for doing well for the national team in the Commonwealth championships.

Sailing expedition

Forty senior division naval cadets of the West Bengal and Sikkim Directorate will launch a sailing expedition from Farakka to Calcutta on Monday. The expedition is expected to take 20 days. Cdr S. Biswas is in charge of the mission.


Bangalore, May 18: 
“It’s too early to comment on specifics... Really, it would be premature to say anything at all,” was captain Sourav Ganguly’s response to a query on the Indian players’ “request” that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) introduce contracts.

That a request had been made, yesterday, was reported in today’s edition of The Telegraph.

The BCCI’s response is awaited, though it is certainly in a mood to introduce graded payment. But while the players have made a specific request, it is to be seen how their current ‘amateur’ status will get affected.

Also, should the BCCI award contracts, will the players then still be allowed to work for private organisations or public sector enterprises? Nothing, it seems, can be introduced in a hurry.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that Anil Kumble, one of the five players who met BCCI emissary Prof. Ratnakar Shetty yesterday, will ‘represent’ the players in any further dialogue while the rest are on tour.

Kumble is recuperating from shoulder surgery.


Calcutta, May 18: 
Transworld Group of Companies beat TIL Limited 4-0 in The Telegraph Merchants’ Cup football meet at CCFC today. Tata Steel A drubbed 5-0 in another match.


Taj Bengal bt Xerox Modi Corp 1-0; Usha Martin Telecom bt Selvel Advertising 2-0; McNally Bharat bt Apeejay Group of Companies 2-0; Indian Iron and Steel Co bt HTA 1-0; Duncans bt Tata NYK 1-0; Spice Cell Ltd bt Sony India 1-0; Jet Airways drew Web Development 1-1; Hindustan Times bt ITC B 2-1; ABN Amro bt HDFC Bank 2-0.


Calcutta, May 18: 
Bournvita Cricket Academy (BCA) skipper Adit Osatwal cracked his second successive century in the Pepsi Ambar Roy sub-junior meet today to help his team trounce Junior CCC by 138 runs.

Osatwal (101 n.o., 76 balls, 17x4) and Sujay Das (102 n.o., 62 balls, 8x6, 8x4) added 220 in an unbroken second-wicket stand to enable BCA amass 230 for one in 25 overs. Junior CCC managed 92 for four in their 25 overs.


Bournvita CA (230/1 in 25 ovs; Adit Osatwal 101 n.o., Sujoy Das 102 n.o.) bt Junior CCC (92/4 in 25 ovs) by 138 runs.

Baghajatin Tarun Sangha (185/7 in 25 ovs; Pramit Biswas 57, Dibyajyoti Bose 70, Sudarshan Mondal 3/33) bt Dalhousie AC (184/5 in 25 ovs; Tarak Maity 79, Rebanta Bhattacharya 43 n.o.) by 1 run.

BNR School of Cricket (120 in 25 ovs; Indranil Burman 4/27) lost to Rajdanga Club Samannay (123/5 in 21.5 ovs; Laltu Haldar 52, Soumitra Pal 32) by 5 wkts.

Suhrid Mitra CC (223/7 in 25 ovs; Ayan Paul 79, Chandan Paul 54, Soumya Sarkar 3/46) bt Bimalendu Smriti CC (133/4 in 25 ovs; Debottam Biswas 3/24) by 90 runs.

Russa United (83 in 17 ovs; Debapriya Sen 3/30) lost to School of Physical Culture (87/1 in 17 ovs, Debapriya Sen 38) by 9 wkts.

Shilpasree CC (111/7 in 25 ovs) lost to Paikpara Sporting (113/3 in 21.1 ovs) by 7 wkts.

Das leaves on June 5

Bengal youngster Arindam Das will leave for a 15-day training stint at the Australian Cricket Academy on June 5. The opener is currently in the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore and the CAB has requested the authorities there to release him for a few days.


Bangalore, May 18: 
Almost Heaven and Desert Gold are the two horses likely to be involved at the finish of the 1,400m Chettinad Stud Plate, the main attraction of the opening day of the season tomorrow. However, in a toss-up, the Darashah-trained ward Almost Heaven, with K. P. Appu in the saddle, appears to have a slight edge and may strike.


2 pm: Angie 1. Nimitz 2. Running Spy 3.
2.30 pm: Soldier Of Fortune 1. Mambo 2. Coral Bird 3.
3 pm: Shara 1. Fiesba 2. Parisien Belle 3.
3.30 pm: Another Crown 1. Hayate 2. Glencruitten 3.
4 pm: Royal Liberator 1. Strides Of Fire 2. Imperial Legend 3.
4.30 pm: Almost Heaven 1. Desert Gold 2. What A Pleasure 3.
5 pm: Kirkcaldy 1. Ride With Pride 2. Superbe Asset 3.
5.30 pm: Kisunugntly 1. Ma Baker 2. Anzac 3.
6 pm: Star Beauty 1. Old Meldrum 2. Mera Ladlaa 3.
Day’s Best: Royal Liberator
Double: Almost Heaven & Kirkcaldy

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