Comeback is God’s way of justice: Khurasia
East Bengal list Port-side
Govt assures tubular structure
Anirban, Minu champions
Coaches’ body, AAAWB at war
Calcutta Racing / Vijay’s favourites may strike
Mysore Racing / Almond upstages Vivid Dreams
Track Trials / Flamebird shines

 
 
COMEBACK IS GOD’S WAY OF JUSTICE: KHURASIA 
 
 
BY LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Calcutta, July 11: 
Had John Wright, now in Canterbury, known that Amay Khurasia wasn’t too far away (in Leeds) — and vice-versa — the national coach and our cricket’s latest comeback man would probably have taken the same flight to India.

More than anything else, that would have helped Khurasia and Wright have their first one-on-one. After all, the left-handed Khurasia’s last India appearance was 22 months ago, in Singapore, when Aunshuman Gaekwad was coach.

As it turns out, Khurasia will board a Singapore Airlines flight out of Manchester tomorrow and Wright will possibly return aboard a British Airways one, 24 hours later, from London. Both, of course, will be back well before the Sri Lanka-bound squad’s Monday departure.

[Incidentally physio Andrew Leipus is also currently overseas, in Johannesburg, and will return on Sunday.]

The Wright-Khurasia one-on-one, then, will have to wait — the coach, though, won’t be disappointed either with Khurasia’s commitment or the passion which drives him.

Ironically, two years ago (specifically after the World Cup), these very qualities came to be questioned in many quarters after a whisper-campaign by people inimical to the left-hander.

Thanks largely to the unfounded campaign, Khurasia got the axe pretty soon thereafter. Today, he isn’t sure why it all started. If anything, however, that episode has made him more determined than ever to carve a niche for himself.

“Well, yes, even I had heard I wasn’t interested in nets and so on... But, you were yourself in England during the World Cup — did you, ever, get the impression I was trying to shirk any responsibility at all? How come just one or two people imagined things and spread it to my disadvantage?” asked Khurasia, when The Telegraph contacted him on his cellphone in the UK.

Khurasia, who is cutting short his contract with Broad Oak in the Huddersfield League, added: “I still can’t understand why some people chose to question my commitment... I know I’ve always been honest with my cricket... Thankfully, I’ve got this opportunity to prove detractors wrong. This comeback, perhaps, is God’s way of justice...”

The youngest in a family of three brothers, the Indore-based Khurasia “fears” God and “believes” in destiny, but pointed out: “The individual, though, must himself do the hard work. It’s important to remember that God works with you, not for you.”

It’s an injury to Sachin Tendulkar (one of Khurasia’s contemporary heroes, the other being Steve Waugh), and his non-availability for much of the forthcoming tri-series in Sri Lanka, which facilitated the left-hander’s return, but captain Sourav Ganguly’s strong backing has already reduced much of the pressure.

In fact, that Khurasia be picked as Sachin’s replacement was suggested by Sourav himself, during Monday afternoon’s selection meeting in Mumbai.

[Speaking exclusively, the captain today said: “I’ve played alongside him and know his potential. Amay is very positive and can go over-the-top... He has what it takes to open in ODIs.” For the record, however, Khurasia has opened once in nine innings — versus Pakistan, in Sharjah.]

“It’s terrific to know the captain has so much confidence... Definitely makes my job easy... I’m grateful to the selectors, too, for giving me another chance to show I’m worthy of the India cap,” Khurasia remarked, this time emotionally.

“I was always looking to make a comeback... Was confident I would, only I didn’t know when and under what circumstances... Perhaps, it was pre-ordained that my return would be now,” he added.

But would he be comfortable opening at the international level?

Khurasia’s response was prompt: “Absolutely. It’s not that I’ve never done the job before. Moreover, the India cap itself removes whatever apprehensions may be there... Frankly, I just can’t wait to again take guard in the India colours.”

Asked whether not getting a single game (India played eight matches) during the 1999 World Cup remains his biggest disappointment, Khurasia paused for a moment and replied: “Actually, much more disappointing was that we didn’t get beyond the Super-Six stage... Looking back, yes, I would then have felt better had I got one game at least...”

While the past can’t ever be re-written, the course of both the present and the future can be strongly influenced by one’s deeds. Khurasia, who grew up idolising Sir Gary Sobers and Sunil Gavaskar, knows that well enough.

For now, Khurasia has been picked for the tri-series only, but a top-drawer effort during the July 18-August 4 tournament may ensure an extended stay in Sri Lanka, for the Test series as well.

“I’ll keep fingers crossed,” Khurasia, who turned 29 in May, signed off.

   

 
 
EAST BENGAL LIST PORT-SIDE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 11: 
EAST BENGAL 1
CPT 1

East Bengal could fish out no more than a point from a pool of mud in today’s CFL Super Division match against Port Trust at what is known as their home ‘ground’.

Srikanta Dutta put the holders ahead in the 35th minute before Amar Pyne equalised in the 64th to ensure Port remained undefeated after two matches.

East Bengal easily dominated the first half but Port came back strongly in the second and coach Manoranjan Bhattacharya’s famed defence was breached on at least three occasions.

Not much football was possible as players struggled to drag the ball out of the slush and passing along the ground was a rarity. On many occasions the ball simply didn’t roll.

Chandan Das and Dipankar Roy helped East Bengal overcome the odds but strikers Dipendu Biswas and Srikanta looked feeble in the air and erratic on the ground.

Goal-bound moves had to be made through aerial balls and the strikers either erred in direction or failed to pack enough power in their headers. Dipendu kept one within the frame in the 11th , but it was too weak to go past Shib Shankar Chowdhury stationed on the goalline.

The goal came when Dipendu headed down Chandan’s cross from the right for Srikanta to slot it past the ’keeper. It was the only occasion when the strikers combined with each other and showed some understanding.

Port, coached by Prasanta Banerjee, came back determined in the second half and East Bengal’s deep defence was comprehensively beaten on a few occasions.

The slush, perhaps, had something to do with it as even the Port strikers struggled to finish after doing the hard work.

The mud had a role to play behind the equaliser as the ball got stuck on the ground after goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee blocked susbstitute Sujit Dey’s long-ranger. The ball would have rolled away under normal conditions, but here it gave Pyne enough time to pounce on it and slot it home from close.

The match became exciting after that with East Bengal going all out which allowed Port a lot of space in the rival half. Both teams made some incisive forays at this stage but failed to convert.

The Port coach said he told his players to be positive and look for goals instead of concentrating on defence. “There is no difference between the teams as long as they are without their foreigners.”

Manoranjan, justifying his former teammate’s belief, said he needs at least two of them — a striker and a deep defender. Club officials later informed Ghanaian stopper Jackson Egygopong is on his way to the city.

TEAMS

EAST BENGAL: Sangram Mukherjee; Falguni Dutta, Dipak Mondal, Ranjan Dey, Surya Chakraborty; Chandan Das, Anit Ghosh, Dipankar Roy, Tushar Rakshit (Soumitra Chakraborty, 59, Satyabrata Bhowmick, 84); Srikanta Dutta (Lalbhulaiya, 70), Dipendu Biswas.

PORT TRUST: Sandip Guha; Srimanta Das, Rabindranath Karmakar, Madhusudan Majumdar, Shib Shankar Chowdhury; Sanjit Saha, Kaushik Prasad (Bijoy Pal, 79), Gourab Dutta, Sandip Ghosh (Sujit Dey, 45); Pradip Indu, Amar Pyne.

Referee: Chitta Das Majumdar.

Two to be released

East Bengal, meanwhile, will release Sangram and Dipankar for the national camp in progress in Patiala. Six players from the club were asked to join the camp but the club was reluctant to release all. Bijen Singh did join the camp and has consequently been suspended by the club.

   

 
 
GOVT ASSURES TUBULAR STRUCTURE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 11: 
The football fraternity of the city today received a written assurance from the state government regarding installation of tubular structure for stands at the three enclosed Maidan grounds.

Members of the IFA’s ‘core committee’ met state sports minister Subhas Chakraborty who assured them work will start at the earliest to erect tubular structures for the public galleries at these grounds. According to Mantoo Ghosh, chairman of the committee, the minister said work is likely to begin in September. It would cost about Rs 3.6 crore. Right now, only parts of the public stands are open for spectators. Following the minister’s assurance, the IFA and the clubs decided to call off a rally, slated for tomorrow, demanding installation of tubular structures.

Milan Bithee win

Milan Bithee beat Wari 2-0 in the first division group A league with goals from Pramod Bhattacharya and Dipak Kumar Singh. The match between Eastern Railway and Howrah Union fell through due to unplayable ground conditions. Aikya Sammilani beat Bowbazar YMU 1-0 in group B with Ratan Dey scoring. Aikya’s Mintu Pandey and Bowbazar’s Haradhan Pal were marched off. The Mohammedan Sporting ground was in no shape to host Behala Youth and Taltala DS.

   

 
 
ANIRBAN, MINU CHAMPIONS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 11: 
Anirban Nandy beat top seed Ranabir Das in the men’s final of the 61st Central Calcutta table tennis meet at YMCA Chowringhee today. The second seed won 30-28, 17-21, 21-16, 21-18. Minu Basak won the women’s title, beating Monisha Chakraborty 23-21, 16-21, 22-20, 23-21.

OTHER RESULTS: Boys: Niloy Basak bt Sourav Pradhan 21-15, 21-18, 21-19. Girls: Anusree Saha bt Sayantika Kundu 21-11, 18-21, 21-14, 17-21, 21-18. Sub-jr boys: Soumyajit Sarkar bt Sourav Ghosh 21-14, 21-14, 19-21, 16-21, 21-10. Sub-jr girls: Soumi Mandal bt Nabanita Bose 15-21, 21-11, 23-21, 21-6.

   

 
 
COACHES’ BODY, AAAWB AT WAR 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 11: 
The Athletic Coaches Association of Bengal (ACAB) has decided to challenge the state association regarding show-cause notices issued to four athletes.

An ACAB-organised five-leg league is on, and the state body has asked Sanjay Biswas, Basanti Biswas, Ranjita Roy and Pampa Mohapatra to explain on July 18 why they didn’t obtain permission before taking part in it.

Two legs of the league have been held. The third comes off in Tarakeswar Sunday. The athletes were not available, but their coaches said their wards will take part in the remaining legs.

Amateur Athletic Association, West Bengal secretary Rathin Banerjee later said the athletes have asked to show cause because it’s mandatory for registered athletes to take permission before taking part in meets not recognised by the state body.

“They would have been granted permission since this meet is not clashing with any other event,” Banerjee said.

Aquatic championship

The 23rd annual all Bengal aquatic championship will be held at Calcutta Sports Association from July 20 to 22.

   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACING / VIJAY’S FAVOURITES MAY STRIKE 
 
 
BY STAR RACER
 
Calcutta, July 11: 
Three of trainer Vijay Singh’s horses — Andrada, Automatic and Annalee — are going to be hot-favourites in tomorrow’s six-event race-card. The stable had fared poorly last Thursday, the opening day of the season. But all the three are working well and may come good.

Annalee in the feature event, the Commuter Cup, may, however, come under some pressure from her stablemate Alyssum who, too, enjoys a favourable weight. But being a young filly, she may do better.

Race card and selections

1. Whimbrel Handicap 1,100m (Cl IV, Rt. 22-50) 1.50 pm: Bird’s Empire 60 Yasin 2; Andrada 58.5 C. Alford 1; Diplomatic Gesture 56 Shanker 5; Storm Centre 55 Upadhya 3; Global Harmony 54 P. Kumar 4.

1. Andrada (2) 2. Bird’s Empire (1) 3. Storm Centre (4)

2. Balchand Handicap 1,400m (Cl IV, Rt. 22-50) 2.30 pm: Raaz 60 Haroon 6; Beau Bruno 56.5 B. Gurang 7; Pneumatic Power 56.5 Yasin 3; Automatic 56 C. Alford 4; Scavenger’s Son 55.5 Tamang 1; Iron Warrior 52.5 P. Kumar 5; Software 52 Shanker 2.

1. Automatic (4) 2. Pneumatic Power (3) 3. Raaz (1)

3. Commuter Cup 1,200 (Terms, 4-y-o & over) 3 pm: Crimson King 60 B. Gurang 3; Alyssum 58 A. P. Singh 1; Annalee 57 C. Alford 2.

1. Annalee (3) 2. Alyssum (2)

4. Kilcloon Handicap 1,200m (Cl V, Rt. 00-28) 3.30 pm: Black Mane 60.5 Kujur 3; Flying Scot 59.5 Smith 5; Glass Slipper 57.5 Gowli 4; Crest Star 57 Yasin 1; Lovely Duchess 54 P. Alford 6; Angels Venture 53.5 Tamang 2.

1. Glass Slipper (3) 2. Flying Scot (2) 3. Black Mane (1)

5. Fire Flash Cup 1,100m (Cl III, Rt. 44-72) 4.05 pm: Peace Envoy 60 B. Gurang 9; Grand Lodge 57.5 Bird 7; Santillana 57 Kujur 8; Solo Act 56.5 Engineer 5; Ashbury 56 Surender 2; Master Bold 56 A. P. Singh 1; Sky Command 56 Rutherford 3; High Life 55 Smith 6; Queen’s Logic 53.5 C. Alford 4.

1. Queen’s Logic (9) 2. Sky Command (7). 3. High Life (8)

6. Blacktoi Handicap 1,000m (Cl V, 5-y-o & over Rt. 00-28) 4.40 pm: Nearco Prince 60 Islam 1; Appyness 59.5 C. Alford 4; Armila 59.5 Rutherford 8; Stately Honour 59.5 Bird 3; Double Dancer 59 Gowli 2; Flying Power 58.5 Kujur 6; Consul’s Secret 56.5 Jaiswal 5; Piece of Cake 54 P. Kumar 7; Ghunghat 49.5 Yasin 9.

1. Appyness (2) 2. Double Dancer (5) 3. Consul’s Secret (7)

Day’s Best: Automatic

Double: Andrada & Appyness

   

 
 
MYSORE RACING / ALMOND UPSTAGES VIVID DREAMS 
 
 
BY TITAN BOY
 
Mysore, July 11: 
Ridden by A. Imran Khan, the R. Shanker-trained Almond upset a hot-favourite Vivid Dreams in the Royal Western India Turf Club Ltd. Trophy at the Mysore race held on Wednesday.

RESULTS

(With inter-state dividends)

1. Ranibennur Plate, Div-II 1,600m: (7-8-3) Sweeping Statement (A. Imran) 1; Selected Princess 2; Bessie 3. Won by: 1/2; 2-3/4; (1-43.8). Tote: Win Rs 101; Place: 24; 31; 38; Quinella: 606; Tanala: 23,091. Fav: Silver Eyes (6).

2. Balamuri Plate, Div-II 1,400m: (5-1-3) Prince Zorro (Bhawani) 1; Careless Beauty 2; Waves of Emotion 3. Not run: Sassy (6) & Great Prince (7). Won by: 1/2; SH; (1-29.7). Tote: Win Rs 120; Place: 48; 10; Quinella: 57; Tanala: 1,520. Fav: Careless Beauty (1).

3. Ranibennur Plate, Div-I 1,600m: (5-7-9) Young Lust (Shukla) 1; My Goodness 2; Sword of Justice 3. Won by: 6; 3-1/2; (1-43.6). Tote: Win Rs 51; Place: 20; 16; 21; Quinella: 73; Tanala: 516. Fav: My Goodness (7).

4. Balamuri Plate, Div-I 1,400m: (8-6-7) Spanish Armada (Bhawani) 1; School For Scandal 2; Theondrice 3. Won by: SH; 1/2; (1-29.5). Tote: Win Rs 232; Place: 45; 24; 20; Quinella: 1,047; Tanala: 7,528. Fav: Certain Ace (1).

5. Bannur Plate 1,400m: (3-1-7) Pride Estates (Shakti) 1; Estocade 2; Abyssinian Cat 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 1/2; (1-26.2). Tote: Win Rs 20; Place: 14; 17; 30; Quinella: 35; Tanala: 549. Fav: Pride Estates (3).

6. Royal Western India Turf Club Ltd. Trophy 1,200m: (3-1-2) Almond (A. Imran) 1; Vivid Dreams 2; Golden Throne 3. Won by: 3-1/2; 2; (1-12.9). Tote: Win Rs 63; Place: 13; 10; 11; Quinella: 29; Tanala: 239. Fav: Vivid Dreams (1).

7. Somwarpet Plate 1,600m: (3-5-8) Amazing Choice (Sharat) 1; Black Flower 2; Self Esteem 3. Not run: Love And Honor (7). Won by: SH; 1-1/4; (1-44.5). Tote: Win Rs 426; Place: 61; 19; 18; Quinella: 801; Tanala: 5,671. Fav: Alektryon (4).

8. Kokkare Belluru Plate 1,400m: (4-1-3) Sinister Minister (Shafiq) 1; Ornate Crown 2; Kylin 3. Won by: 3-1/4; 3-1/4; (1-27.2). Tote: Win Rs 46; Place: 14; 14; 20; Quinella: 52; Tanala: 331. Fav: Ornate Crown (1).

Jackpot: Rs 80,200 (Carried over).

Treble: (i) Rs 6,487; (ii) Rs 4,051.

   

 
 
TRACK TRIALS / FLAMEBIRD SHINES 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, July 11: 
Flamebird was impressive from among the following horses seen working today:

Outer sand track

1,200m: Flamebird (Gowli) in 1-28; (400m) 28s. Moved well. Tsaynen Blue (Gowli) and Lightning Speed (Rb) in 1-29s; (400m) 29s. They were level and were handy.

800m: Grand Lodge (Bird) and The Stud (Smith) in 59s; (400m) 28s. They were level. Remember Me (Rb) in 1-2s; (400m) 32s. Aldebro (Brij) in 1-3s; (400m) 30s. Melodeon (Rb) in 1-3s; (400m) 30s.

Sand track

1,400m: Bul Bul (Haroon) in 1-48s; (400m) 28s.

800m: Rheinheart (Shanker) in 1-0s; (400m) 29s. Tequila Shot (Shanker) in 53s; (400m) 24s. Good. Heaven’s Blessing (Shanker) in 1-3s; (400m) 30s. Aliqa (Rb) in 58s; (400m) 25s. Handy. Eau Savage (Shanker) in 59s; (400m) 28s. Gold Buck (Shanker) in 56s; (400m) 26s. Handy. Don Vittorio (Shanker) in 1-3s; (400m) 29s. Reactor (Shanker) in 1-0s; (400m) 30s. Easy.

   

 

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