Das will do better if more secure: Coach
Gopichand in quarters
Roy, Mishra joint leaders
East Bengal invited for Goa meet
Asian chess meet deferred
Three-way lead
Epsom Derby/ O’Brien, Stoute wards in betting

 
 
DAS WILL DO BETTER IF MORE SECURE: COACH 
 
 
BY LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Calcutta, June 7: 
But for Sachin Tendulkar, Mumbai’s Ramakant Achrekar may not have gained national recognition. Delhi’s Tarak Nath Sinha and Bhubaneswar’s Kishore Mania, though, remain largely unsung coaches.

In fact, the Manias and Sinhas have even been overlooked by the Board during the recent formation of zonal academies. Mania, however, is “perfectly happy” being a senior coach on the payroll of Orissa’s directorate of sports and youth services.

Not that Mania wishes to take any credit, but years of dedication finally bore fruit when protege Shiv Sundar Das, 23, earned his maiden India call-up last November.

Appropriately, in his “happiest moment,” Das didn’t forget to thank his mentor: About the first thing he did, on reaching Bhubaneswar after a session of nets in neighbouring Cuttack, was to touch Mania’s feet.

“I blessed him, yes, but pointed out his journey had just begun,” Mania told The Telegraph in Bhubaneswar the other evening.

Invaluable tips for Das have come from Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar, but it’s with Mania that he has regular one-on-ones.

It was no different before the Indian team left for Zimbabwe. Moreover, Mania was among those who saw Das off as he left for Mumbai en route to Harare.

An off-spinner who batted decently, Mania didn’t graduate beyond the university-level, but has certainly put his NIS diploma in coaching (1976) to good use.

“Shiv Sundar was in class seven or eight when he met me for the first time (at the coach’s Pragati Sports Club)... Incidentally, he would then bat at No.3/4,” Mania remarked, adding he didn’t influence Das to open.

“A good batsman must be able to bat anywhere... Actually, Shiv Sundar hasn’t really been batting to potential. He’ll do much better once more assured of his place. Within him, after all, there seems to be a bit of insecurity which is curbing his natural game. To me, he appears to be under some pressure.”

The 49-year-old Mania knows Das better than most.

[Das took to the Bulawayo Test with 396 runs from six appearances, at an average of 39.60. The 110 at Nagpur, against Zimbabwe, remains his highest.]

In Mania’s book a quality batsman is one who, besides a sound defence, smartly uses his feet to spinners and, overall, has controlled strokeplay.

Mania agreed that temperament remains Das’ USP. “He had the same excellent temperament when I saw him bat for the first time, years ago... Technique-wise, though, Shiv Sundar needs a slight improvement.”

Mania added: “I’ve asked him to go on the back foot more often and, then, play across... Also, he could fine-tune the front foot drives. Shiv Sundar must only look to playing his natural game without being too concerned about...”

As pitches in Zimbabwe help the new-ball bowlers, Mania’s advice to Das was simple: “Take it session-by-session and ignore bouncers.”

Smiling, Mania said: “Like me, Shiv Sundar has much faith in God. If he wills a big knock then, well, our boy will not be denied.”

While appreciating the Board’s choice of John Wright (“an overseas coach won’t have any prejudice”), Mania felt it should still “regularly” utilise Gavaskar and Mohinder Amarnath’s expertise.

Mania believes a good coach “must” focus on discipline more so as, nowadays, there are distractions in plenty. In any case, it’s not strictly a love for cricket which attracts today’s generation. Rather, the sport is seen as a handsome career option.

To return to Das, while he hasn’t played ODIs, Mania is “confident” he will make the cut — sooner rather than later.

“Players in Orissa are brought up on limited overs cricket and, so, Shiv Sundar won’t be found wanting. It’s another matter that, generally, one-day cricket has affected the art of batting and hurt the bowlers, too...”

With Debashish Mohanty back in the India squad, Orissa has a bigger representation than ‘Big Brother’ Bengal — all well-deserved. In the season just-ended, Orissa made the Ranji semi-finals, where they lost to eventual champions Baroda.

Still, the infrastructure in the state is almost non-existent. The only turf wicket of note, for example, is at the Barabati in Cuttack and players usually earn their spurs on either matting or cement pitches.

Clearly, over the years, the Orissa Cricket Association has done little and the government, one understands, “has absolutely no funds.”

In effect, cricket in Orissa revolves around a handful of Bhubaneswar-based clubs: Shaheed Sports, Paramount, Mukteswar CC and, of course, Pragati Sports.

Only the most committed can manage to smile in such situations. Mania is one such.

   

 
 
GOPICHAND IN QUARTERS 
 
 
FROM SANJAY SHARMA
 
Seville, June 7: 
Pullela Gopichand today became only the second Indian ever to reach the quarter finals of the world badminton championships when he defeated 34-year-old unseeded Chinese Taipei’s Fung Permadi 15-10, 15-13.

Permadi was runner-up at the last world championships in Copenhagen, where he defeated Denmark’s Peter Gade Christensen in the semi-final but lost to Sun Jun of China in the final.

Gopichand won the 48-minute battle against a vastly experienced opponent and now runs into his old nemesis, Hong Chen of China, whom he beat at the All England final this year.

Though today’s match lasted just two games, it was far from easy as Fung read Gopichand’s strategy and moved to the net as early as possible to foil the Indian at his favourite stroking area.

After a deficit of 3-6 in the first game, Fung came back with controlled net play to equalise at 10-10. At this stage Gopichand got two lovely down the line smashes which Fung never saw coming. At 12-10, Gopichand served low and went into fast attacking mode to get the next three points.

It did seem he will have an easy second game too. Even though by now he was keeping Fung away from the net and raced to a 12-6 lead, he relaxed and again made the mistake of playing looping net dribbles. This allowed Fung to come back and was soon on 10-12. The Indian was looking a bit nervous by now and even though he went ahead at 13-12, Fung never gave up. At 14-13 Gopichand had two match point serves before he judged Fung’s lift out at baseline to enter the quarters.

Only Prakash Padukone before him has reached the quarters on four different occasions. Prakash feels that Gopichand has a good chance against Chen Hong if he can bring in some variations into his net strokes. “Gopichand needs to flick the bird a couple of times so that the Chinese is not able to get into any rhythm. But Gopichand should win as he has a better courtcraft and coverage. The Chinese always tries to lift the shuttle on first dribble, so Gopichand need not worry too much on that account.”

Said Morten Frost, former world No.1 and four-time All England champion: “I still feel that the race for the title is wide open, with Pullela, Peter (Gade), Hendrawan and Taufique all in the running. Pullela played a better game than yesterday. He had more variations in his gameplan. But now that everyone knows where to play him, a faster moving opponent may trouble him. He is, however, looking better and better, the way he did at All England.”

In other matches, Peter Gade survived against unseeded Malaysian Lee Tsuen Seng, winning 15-3, 7-15, 15-9 while Hong Kong shuttler Agus Haryanto claimed another seeded player. Agus had yesterday stunned Olympic champion Ji Xin Peng. Today he was in total command as he outlasted the seventh seeded Marleve Mainaky of Indonesia 7-15, 15-7, 15-5 to reach the quarters. Chen Hong defeated Ong Ewe Hock of Malaysia 17-14, 15-10 to reach the last eight stage.

Biggest upset

The biggest upset of the day was the exit of ladies’ top seed Camilla Martin. The Dane, playing Chinese Yun Dai in a repeat of the last world championships final, lost 6-11, 6-11.

In a late match, Indonesian Hendrawan moved into the men’s third round following a 15-3, 15-12 win over Hong Kong’s Tam Kai Chuen who had scalped top seed Roslin Hashim of Malaysia yesterday.

Taufik Hidayat survived the challenge of Malaysian Wong Choon Han to come through 15-10, 11-15, 15-7 in 65 minutes.

   

 
 
ROY, MISHRA JOINT LEADERS 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Bhubaneswar, June 7: 
Two players led the field with six points each after the sixth round of The Telegraph Schools’ Chess Championship being played at the gymnasium-cum-indoor hall.

The leaders, Piyush Roy and Nishikant Mishra, are being followed by two others on 5.5 points each. Eighteen others are following them with five points each. The top two have so far maintained a clean slate.

On the top board, fourth seed Abinash Das held top seed Byomkesh Nayak. Das adapted an old variation of Slav Defence against Nayak’s d4 opening. White could have gone for b3 on the eighth move, but tried to easing the tension in the centre.

He decoyed black’s queen to d4 and gave away his knight and bishop to get black’s rook. Though he obtained exchange up position, black had compensation of two extra points. On move 21, black offered a draw. White declined it but came under time pressure later. This time, he offered a draw which was accepted.

On the second board, fifth seed Kiran Manisha Mohanty of Integral Education School, playing white, lost to second-seeded Roy of BJB English Medium School. Roy, exploiting the backrank weakness of white, won a piece in a tactical combination on move 22. After that it was only routine technical work for him to clinch victory.

On the third board, the game between Mishra and Radharani Ray was a Queen’s Gambit one. Both were eager to exchange off pieces and they entered into a king-and-pawns ending very soon, where black had created an isolated pawn on d5 and white exploited it to his advantage.

On the 13th board, the lowly seeded Sourav Mohapatra defeated Amarjyoti Mahasuara in a Giuoco Piano opening and won the game in 54th move. The Orissa State Chess Association is organising the meet in co-operation with the Alekhine Chess Club of Calcutta. The meet is being co-sponsored by Smithkline Beecham, the makers of Horlicks.

   

 
 
EAST BENGAL INVITED FOR GOA MEET 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 7: 
East Bengal have been invited to play an exhibition football tournament in Goa, marking the 50th anniversary of Vasco Sports Club.

The tournament, planned as a fund-raiser for activities related to football, is likely to feature Vasco and the league champions of Portugal — Boavista.

It is expected to take place after the Federation Cup gets over in August. An East Bengal official said Vasco have also expressed their wish to honour the city club’s president and secretary with life memberships.

Bagan release Debjit

Mohun Bagan have decided to exclude Debjit Ghosh from the squad this season. Debjit, a regular in midfield or defence last season, is looking for a club though East Bengal and Tollygunge Agragami are not too keen on recruiting him.

Matches fall through

Opening day’s action in the second division of the Calcutta Football League was washed out by the mid-afternoon shower. Seven second-division matches and four fifth-division fixtures were scheduled for the day. None could be completed.

Poulami felicitation

Baisakhi Sangha, the club where Poulami Ghatak learnt her early lessons in table tennis, will felicitate the national champion on Saturday. Her coach Tapan Chandra, who has been in charge of the national junior teams several times, will also be honoured.

The Olympian has secured a second division at this year’s Madhyamik examinations.

Age-group volleyball

Hooghly District Coaching Centre and Darjipara Bayam Samity will meet in the sub-junior boys’ final of the 10th state age-group volleyball meet.

In the semi-finals at the state association courts, Hooghly beat Barasat Natunpukur Association 18-25, 25-19, 16-25, 25-12, 15-10 while Darjipara overcame Tollygunge Subhas Sangha 25-23, 25-22, 25-15.

In the junior girls’ final, Academy for Sports and Games will meet Barasat Natunpukur Association. The mini girls’ final pits Kutubpur Pallimangal against Panpur Milan Sangha.

   

 
 
ASIAN CHESS MEET DEFERRED 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 7: 
The Asian Chess Championship, scheduled to be held in the city from July 20-30, has been deferred and will now be played from August 9-18.

According to an AICF official, the event has been pushed back following a Fide directive. Only men will take part in the meet and the Asian Championship for women will be in Chennai in September.

Eleven players from the men’s championship will qualify for the World Championship. Indian GM Krishnan Sasikiran, who won the Asian zonal meet in Colombo recently, has already qualified for the world meet but is expected to play in the Asian Championship.

The official informed the federation is trying to get a sponsor on its own as things are not working perfectly with event managers, Studio 2100. The state government will also be approached, he said.

Talks are being held with Doordarshan regarding telecast of the meet. The AICF wants to strike a long-term deal with Doordarshan but details are yet to be finalised.

Roktim stays ahead

Roktim Bandopadhyay (6.5) maintained his lead in the state selection trial chess tournament, beating Kunal Chatterjee (5) in the seventh and penultimate round at Salt Lake Stadium today.

Pradip Ghosh (6), who beat Anirban Guha Roy (5), was in the second spot. Eight players — Chatterjee, Guha Roy, Dyutimoy Mukherjee, Dilip Das, Bibhash Bhowmick, Pranjal Das, Swapan Sikdar, Soumyakanti Mukherjee — were sharing the third spot.

Alekhine trials

Alekhine Chess Club, recently granted AICF affiliation, will hold its first-ever selection trials for the National B meet from Wednesday. Two players will be picked after the nine-round trials. Two more will be picked from the Goodricke Academy.    

 
 
THREE-WAY LEAD 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 7: 
Vijay Kumar and Mukesh Kumar were joined by Devendra Patel in a three-way lead after the opening round of Rs 5.5 lakh The Leela Palace-BGC Open being played at the par-68, 5,750-yard Bangalore Golf Club today.

According to information received here, the threesome brought in identical cards of two-under 66.

City golfer Indrajit Bhalotia, along with C. Muniyappa were tied at fourth one stroke behind the leaders at one-under 67.

Another local star Feroz Ali, Mhow’s D.S. Raghuvanshi and Delhi’s Vinod Kumar collectively occupied the sixth spot at level-par 68.

   

 
 
EPSOM DERBY/ O’BRIEN, STOUTE WARDS IN BETTING 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
 
Trainer Aidan O’Brien, who recently won the Irish 1000 and 2000 Guineas, will attempt to record another classic success with Galileo in the Vodafone Epsom Derby, England, on Saturday. He is being quoted at 11/4 in the betting, according to reports reaching here.

The Derby, however, seems to be an open affair with Michael Stoute’s duo of Dilahaan and Golan also considered to be strong challengers. Dilshaan shot to prominence in the betting after winning this year’s Dante Stakes at York and is available at 4/1. Until recently it was Golan, the emphatic winner of the Guineas, who was stable’s first string. But unfavourable last week reports of his gallops has seen the colt ease from 5/4.

   
 

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