For now, India out of Pakistan’s pool
Cakewalk for women, men run for money
Hike in EB, Bagan budget
Ashok Sangha make semis
Mysore Racing/ Kilmarnock all set to score

Calcutta, June 12: 
India, at the moment, are narrowly avoiding being in the same pool as top rivals Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup, cricket’s biggest show ever.

The World Cup’s eighth edition will be held between February 7 and March 19 and the Super Six format, introduced in the 1999 meet, will again be followed.

Should Pakistan maintain their success percentage of 55.93 in ODIs, from immediately after the 1999 World Cup till date, and India (46.55) nose ahead of England (47.83), between now and September 30, then of course the clubbing together of the Asian giants can’t be avoided.

No performance beyond September 30 will be taken into account while finalising positions in the two pools — appropriately named after Sir Don Bradman and Sir Gary Sobers — with June 21, 1999 (the day after the seventh World Cup final) being the starting point for tabulating the teams’ success percentage.

Besides the ten Test-playing nations and Kenya, which has ODI status, the 2003 World Cup will feature the top three finishers at the ICC Trophy in Canada, being held from June 28 to July 17 this year.

Never before have 14 teams participated in a cricket World Cup.

Actually, had the International Cricket Council (ICC) accepted World Cup executive director Dr Ali Bacher’s suggestion that odd numbered teams be in the Bradman Pool and even numbered in the Sobers Pool then, going by the current standings, India and Pakistan would have been in the same (Sobers) pool.

Instead, the ICC’s Executive Board felt the ‘ABBA’ system be followed. In other words, the hottest team will be in the Bradman Pool, with Nos. 2 and 3 in the Sobers Pool. Then, Nos. 4 and 5 will be with team No.1 and Nos. 6 and 7 will keep Nos. 2 and 3 company. It goes on that way.

According to the standings tabulated by the World Cup’s Policy Committee — updated till the start of the on-going tri-series in England — and made available to The Telegraph, the pools today would be as follows:

BRADMAN POOL: Australia, Pakistan, England, West Indies, Zimbabwe and the winner and runner-up at the ICC Trophy.

SOBERS POOL: South Africa, Sri Lanka, India, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Kenya and the third-placed team at the ICC Trophy.

Clearly, the countdown for positions has begun and, except Bangladesh and Kenya, the ‘top nine’ will all have opportunities to improve their standing.

India, for example, have two tri-series’ ahead: In Zimbabwe (with the hosts and the West Indies) and in Sri Lanka (with the hosts and New Zealand). Also, India could play three ODIs against Australia, in Australia, all before the September 30 cut-off.

It’s possible, then, that the next few months will see competition of the highest order in ODIs.


Calcutta, June 12: 
The 11th Asia & Middle East bridge championship was held from May 24 to June 2 in Bahrain. At the Inauguration on 24th morning, we were greeted with the happy news that bridge would be a demonstration sport at the 2002 Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City, USA, and was expected to become a regular medal event during the Winter Games from 2006.

The meet started with the two-session Friendship Pairs in which Kiran Nadar and Buchiraja Satynarain of the Indian Open team outscored 40 other pairs to win.

The two main events, the Open Teams and the Women’s Teams started the next day. In the Open, six teams, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan, Sri Lanka and Bahrain, played a triple-round-robin followed by the 96-board knockout semi-finals and an 80-board final while the two losers played a 32-board match for third position.

The women’s event with five teams — India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Jordan and Bahrain — was played on similar lines but with the top two qualifying for the 96-board final.

Such a difference was due to the fact that only two teams in the Open are eligible to represent the zone in the world Open Teams championship for the Bermuda Bowl in Bali this October while in the Women’s, only one team from the zone is eligible for the Venice Cup.

In the Women’s, India was clearly the pick of the lot and despite starting with a 4-25 VP loss to Sri Lanka, our ladies soon regained form and ended the qualifying round at the top with 10 wins, 2 losses and 3 byes in 15 matches. Sri Lanka out-performed the others to reach the final, winner take all.

The final, however, was an absolutely one-sided clash — India won all six sessions to lift the Vinodini Goenka trophy and the right to represent the zone in the Venice Cup by 310 imps to 118.

Playing for India were Bimal Sicka, Feroza Chothia, Yvette Singaprui, Marriane Karmarkar, Gita Lakhani and Ameeta Raythatha with Mahendra Kumar Choudhury as the non-playing captain.

In the Open, India and Pakistan started as joint favourites and Sri Lanka was no pushover. Surprisingly, we had an easy run in the qualifying, leading from start to finish. Our domination can be gauged from the fact that in the Butler scoring system done for academic purposes (the same boards being played in all the matches), the six Indian players, each of whom played 200 of the total 300 boards, occupied second to seventh spots with scores ranging from +1.28 to +0.32 imps per board.

Pakistan, after a slow start, finished second, but Sri Lanka failed to make the cut, losing their last six matches. Syria and debutants Bahrain were the other semi-finalists.

Having headed the league table, we had the right to choose our semi-final opponent and we picked Bahrain but at the end of the first day of the semi-finals, we found ourselves in deep troubles.

Having squandered our 24-imp carry-over , we let Bahrain take an 11-imp lead in the very first session. The next day, however, we shut out our opponents with 45-2 and 48-16 sets to emerge winners by 232 imps to 192.

Pakistan fared even worse against Syria who put up a spirited display and won by 225 to 208 after overcoming a 24-imp carry-over deficit.

Unfortunately, while India qualified for the Bermuda Bowl by reaching the final, Syria would not get a chance as the rules of the World Bridge Federation do not permit a team to be invited for the Bermuda Bowl unless its team has played in the immediately preceding World Teams Olympiad.

Thus, Pakistan, by virtue of finishing third by defeating Bahrain in the play-off would be the zone’s second team for the Bowl. The Pakistani team comprised Masood Salim, Javaid Khalid, Mirza Shauq Hussain, Tahir Abbas Mirza, Shahin Iqbal and Mohsin Mushtaque Chandna.

On the first day of the final, Syria reproduced their form against us and with Nadar-Satyanarain playing badly, we lost 7 imps of our 10-imp carry-over in the very first session itself.

The very first board of the second session was a disaster at my table — a lazy, unclear signal by partner coaxed me into selling a game. The next board was no better as we sailed into a hopeless slam. Three boards later I held ace-queen of spades, king-jack-eight-small of hearts, ace-king-jack-small of diamonds and three small clubs.

After a spirited auction in which partner had raised in diamonds, LHO came in with four hearts, doubled by me when it came round — after two passes, RHO, who had been silent so far in the bidding, suddenly sprang to life with five clubs.

Dummy turned up with king to five spades, ace-queen-nine to five hearts, a stiff diamond and doubleton ace of clubs.

I started ruing my decision to double four hearts when partner showed out on the second trump but luckily for us, partner, who had only jack-nine to five spades, queen to four diamonds and a singleton club, had the critical holding of ten to three hearts which enabled us to defeat the game with careful defence.

There were no further losses and with Nadar-Satyanarain having played well in this set, we escaped by dropping only 3 imps to tie the match. In the third set, Venkataraman and I looked forward to a lead of between 40 and 50 imps and we were up only by 4 imps with 32 boards to go on the last day. On those last 32 boards, however, all three Indian pairs were in form and the Syrians had no answer — we won the last two sets 43 to 6 and 45 to 4 to stall Syria by 215 imps to 133.

The winners of the Zakaria Adamjee Trophy were Kiran Nadar, Rajesh Dalal, Subhash Gupta, Buchiraja Satynarain, K.R. Venkataraman and this correspondent, with Nachappan Nagappan as the non-playing captain.


Calcutta, June 12: 
The UB group has decided to hike the budget for East Bengal and Mohun Bagan by Rs 25 lakh each over last year’s amount for the upcoming season.

The decision was taken in view of the city giants’ excellent performance in the last season, a company release from Bangalore said.

According to the release, there will be a “bonus” provision for players to perform well.

Easy for CPT

CPT drubbed Mohammedan AC 8-0 in a Burdwan cluster match of the IFA Shield today. FCI and George Telegraph also won their matches with identical 3-0 margins.

Krishnendu’s hattrick

Dalhousie AC rode Krishnendu Sardar’s hattrick to beat Calcutta Rangers 3-0 in the fourth division of the IFA League today.

In another match, Beliaghata BB trounced Rakhi Sangha 4-0, Goutam Adhikary scoring thrice.


Calcutta, June 12: 
Ashok Sangha, Calcutta, beat North 24 Parganas DSA 61-33 to reach the semi-finals in women’s section of the 49th state knock-out kabbadi meet at WBKA ground today. Eastern Railway, Habra KA and Manasha Samity are already in the last four.

In the men’s quarter finals, Habra KA defeated Noapara Mitra Sangha 53-37. In a pre-quarter final clash, Chandannagore DKA beat Murshidabad DKA 39-23.

Afro-Asian Games

The city-based sports administrator Asoke Ghosh had been nominated to both the executive board and organising committees of the upcoming Afro-Asian Games. Both bodies meet in New Delhi on June 20.


Mysore, June 12: 
Kilmarnock is strongly fancied to claim the 1,600m T. V. Reddy Memorial Trophy — a Class III race which takes the centrestage in tomorrow’s nine-event race-card.

Well tuned in Bangalore by Z. Darashah, before he shifted to Mysore, it is hard to visualise any of his eight rivals putting up much resistance. The best of this 30 to 45 rated lot to offer a semblance of a challenge are Crystal Sky and Eyewitness over the present trip. The six-year-old gelding by Razeen out of Cornetto will be partnered by the in-form jockey K. P. Appu.


1.30 pm: Random Hearts 1. Dad’s Prize 2. Sword of Justice 3.
2 pm: Cassini 1. Skipping Away 2. Ultima 3.
2.30 pm: Portalino 1. Aethion 2. Ever Ever 3.
3 pm: Flying Scotsman 1. Golden Throne 2. Theondrice 3.
3.30 pm: Kylin 1. Imperial Weapon 2. Careless Beauty 3.
4 pm: Kilmarnock 1. Eyewitness 2. Crystal Sky 3.
4.30 pm: Tequila Ride 1. Crown Ivory 2. Asian 3.
5 pm: Black Flower 1. Genting Highlands 2. Grey Bull 3.
5.30 pm: Ornate Crown 1. Almond 2. Chuck Berry 3.

Day’s Best: Flying Scotsman

Double: Cassini & Kilmarnock

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