Sourav ‘disappointed’ with on-trial status
Viji, Swati: Invading the male bastion
‘Indian Express’ takes three weeks off
Merchants’ golf draws 70 teams
Worries beset Tolly, Md. Sp.
Leipus light on spike theory
New sponsor for Indian PGA
Lord’s specialist for CAB
Calcutta Races/ Annalee makes it eight in-a-row
Track Trials/ Azurica works well

 
 
SOURAV ‘DISAPPOINTED’ WITH ON-TRIAL STATUS 
 
 
BY LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Calcutta, July 12: 
The selectors’ reluctance (till now) to give Sourav Ganguly a longer tenure as captain — a move which, incidentally, won’t be precedent-setting — has left him “disappointed.”

Speaking for the first time on the issue, perhaps, Sourav told The Telegraph this morning: “It’s possible not everybody may appreciate my saying I’m disappointed, but that’s the way it is.”

Relaxing in his ‘wing’ of the sprawling Ganguly residence at Behala, Sourav added: “As it is, I’ve got to not only concentrate on my game, but the captaincy... It will be easier if I’m given a fixed tenure — whatever the period — instead of being reappointed series-by-series...”

Clearly, regularly being on trial isn’t Sourav’s preferred cup of tea. More so, as he does merit a longer tenure, on the lines of an Azharuddin or a Sachin.

For the record, Sourav has led India to victory in five of his eight Tests (one drawn) as captain and 14 of the 23 ODIs — starting with the ICC KnockOut last October, when the tainted players got excluded.

[Overall, Sourav’s ODI-specific captaincy record stands at 21-18.]

Though the selectors could have done so on Monday itself, in Mumbai, they haven’t retained Sourav till even the end of their annual term, which traditionally is the second-half of September coinciding with the Board’s AGM.

As of now, Sourav is captain till the Sri Lanka tour, which ends September 2. But even if the proposed three-match series in Australia is scrapped (as is most likely), the Asian Test Championship game in Lahore will still be held that month.

Moreover, as the South Africa-bound squad has to leave by end-September — the tour-opener is on October 1 — the selection of both the captain and players will probably have to be done by the present selectors (Chandu Borde, Madanlal, Ashok Malhotra, T.A. Sekar and Sanjay Jagdale).

In any case, nothing stops the selectors from reviewing their own decision and, surely, they won’t be compromising Indian cricket by making Sourav feel that much more comfortable.

Significantly, during the course of our one-on-one, Sourav strongly dismissed the suggestion in some quarters that he tends to “push players down the selectors’ throats.”

Sourav reacted thus: “That’s never been the case. When I back somebody, it’s purely on grounds of ability and performance... In fact, I’m thankful to the selectors that, most of the time, they have respected my views and chosen the players I wanted.”

He continued: “Actually, neither the captain nor the selectors should have it entirely their way... The exchange of thoughts must be healthy as the objective is common: To pick the best side.”

Asked whether the captain and coach (co-opted members of the selection committee) should be formally given a vote each, Sourav replied: “It’s not necessary as, more often than not, the captain and coach do get the team of their choice...”

Sourav’s response, however, was very different when informed that the Board recently (quietly) contemplated asking the captain and coach to only “brief” the selectors before a meeting, and not be physically present during deliberations.

“Well, I haven’t been told it was discussed... Such an arrangement (merely briefing the selectors), though, won’t ever be acceptable to me. Not just me, I’m sure even a Dravid or a Kumble or Srinath won’t be comfortable with something like that.

“When it’s the captain who gets all the flak for defeats, why should he only be indirectly involved in the selection process? In any case, if a captain makes an unreasonable demand, the selectors and coach will be around to make him see reason,” Sourav observed.

Typical of this Indian captain that.

Meanwhile, the security cover around Sourav has increased appreciably ever since his return home on Monday night. All this, of course, is a fallout of the Lashkar-e-Toiba “kidnap threat.”

Besides an additional escort vehicle and guards at his residence, the India captain is obliged to move about with armed securitymen. Indeed, Sourav has officially been cautioned against trying to ‘hoodwink’ them.

As Sourav and wife Dona leave for Chennai (en route to Colombo) on Sunday, the Tamil Nadu police is being contacted to provide the security cover there.

Sourav himself is quite unfazed. “Look, nothing will happen to me,” he insisted, smiling.

   

 
 
VIJI, SWATI: INVADING THE MALE BASTION 
 
 
BY ATREYO MUKHOPADHYAY
 
Calcutta, July 12: 
The men’s National B chess championship, which got over in Nagpur Monday, should stay as a landmark in the history of the game in India. For, it was the first time that two women made the cut for the next men’s National A meet. One was Subbaraman Vijayalakshmi — arguably the strongest Indian woman player ever. The other, Swati Ghate, was a pack of surprise.

While the former, India’s first Woman Grandmaster, was trying her luck for the fifth time, for Swati, it was the fourth attempt. Contrasting players in approach, both logged 9.5 points out of a maximum of 13, though Vijayalakshmi had to wriggle out of a spot after a disastrous start.

The year 2001 has been a mixed bag for Vijayalakshmi. She finished a dismal fifth in the Asian zonal meet in Colombo but bounced back to win the women’s National A crown for the fourth straight time. Swati, on the other hand, has had a steady year, finishing second in Colombo and taking the third spot in National A.

The Chennai-based Vijayalakshmi and Swati, a resident of Pune, spoke to The Telegraph this afternoon. Following are excerpts.

The 22-year-old Vijayalakshmi had come close to qualifying in 1998 and ’99 but finished 15th on both occasions, with the top 12 going through.

“This year I made a bad start, scoring just two points in the first five rounds. However, my father was there in Nagpur to encourage me and kept telling me that I could make it. I decided to take one game at a time and scored 7.5 in the last eight rounds,” she said.

Having achieved everything the Indian women’s circuit can offer, Vijayalakshmi said her aim now is to improve her rating which has come down from an impressive 2416 to 2397. “I have to be selective in playing tournaments and intend to play the stronger ones more often.

“I’ve done what I could do in the women’s circuit here but now, I’ve to get in to the next stage — the men’s — which is more challenging as women in India always get less opportunities,” she said.

For one known to enjoy her game rather than scoring points, Vijayalakshmi opted for a rather safe opening ploy in Nagpur. Perhaps it had to do something with her unsuccessful experiment with openings in Colombo. “Yes, I went for what you can call passive openings, which is certainly not my style, but sometimes you may have to do it.”

The 21-year-old Swati had missed the cut by half-a-point in 1998 but made most of the chance this time after getting off to a good start. She needed to draw in the last four rounds to qualify.

“I had some tough times in the sixth and eighth rounds, against Lanka Ravi and T. S. Ravi, but won both matches which made me confident. After beating Sandipan Chanda in the ninth round, I became sure I would make it.

“In my earlier tries, I did well in the first half but faltered in the second. This time, my aim was to stay unbeaten in the first half and change the momentum after that,” said the Women’s International Master whose next aim is to secure the men’s IM title.

Swati realises that she needs to be more selective about tournaments henceforth. She will play a few meets in Europe after the women’s Asian championship in Chennai in September.

“Competition in the men’s world will be tougher and demand greater physical energy since the men’s National A is a 19-round affair, six more than the women’s event,” she said.

“My attitude towards the game has to change as expectations will,” said Swati whose Elo rating has come down to 2260 from 2271.

   

 
 
‘INDIAN EXPRESS’ TAKES THREE WEEKS OFF 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 12: 
After their mixed campaign in the two Grand Slam events in Europe, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi have decided to take three weeks off from the circuit.

The Indian Express, which sped like the Rajdhani at Roland Garros only to be stopped dead in its tracks at the first stop at Wimbledon, is currently recharging batteries in the US.

Paes, who did well to win three qualifying rounds as well as a main-draw singles match — his first-ever at Wimbledon — was scheduled to play singles at the Hall of Fame meet in Newport this week.

“He didn’t get a direct entry, nor a wild card, so he decided to pull out as he wasn’t keen on playing the qualifiers in Newport,” Dr Vece Paes said today. Having won his only singles crown at this venue in 1998 and being a runner-up a year later, Paes had expected his wild card request to be granted.

Bhupathi is not off the game totally, as he is playing the World Team Tennis League in Schenectady, near New York.

The Bangalorean, representing New York Buzz, has Martina Navratilova as one of his teammates. They are competing against the likes of Jan Michael Gambill, Andy Roddick, John and Patrick McEnroe, Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams.

Paes and Bhupathi, currently the world’s No. 4 team, will be back in action at the Montreal Masters Series meet from July 30.

World Doubles dates

Meanwhile, the dates for the World Doubles Championship are almost certain to be changed.

Originally scheduled for November 7-11 in Bangalore, the event clashed with the inaugural Afro-Asian Games in Delhi (November 3-11). A request was made by the AITA, on behalf of the government of India, that the Bangalore dates be shifted to enable Paes and Bhupathi’s participation in the Afro-Asian Games.

After months of speculation on whether the ATP will actually alter its pre-set calendar, it is set to announce fresh dates — possibly November 21-25, or a week later.

   

 
 
MERCHANTS’ GOLF DRAWS 70 TEAMS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 12: 
A total of 70 teams from leading corporate houses will compete in The Telegraph Merchants’ Cup golf championship at the RCGC next week.

Governor Viren Shah will inaugurate the meet at 8 am Tuesday. The final round is scheduled for next Friday.

For the first time, the scope of the tournament has been broadened as a new category has been introduced in the form of The Telegraph Challenge Cup.

While The Telegraph Merchants’ Cup proper is open to corporate houses that have at least four executive golfers based in the eastern region, The Telegraph Challenge Cup has no such restrictions.

After five years of the Merchants’ Cup being staged in March, the meet reverts back to July this time. “This is a nice time to play as there’s not too much golfing activity now,” RCGC captain Lakshman Singh explained at the press conference this afternoon. “The course is wet, but it will be a lot of fun.”

Lakshman himself, along with Alan Singh, Sanjeev Mehra and Aditya Khaitan are some of the prominent names to be seen in action next week.

Samsung are co-sponsoring the meet, while Kingfisher, Seagram’s and GI Security are the associate sponsors. The event is being managed by Tiger Sports Marketing.

CONFIRMED ENTRIES

THE TELEGRAPH MERCHANTS’ CUP: Apeejay, Bata, Birla Group, BOC India, Bose & Mitra, Carritt Moran, Carter Containers, CESC, Contemporary Target, Dhunseri Group, George Williamson (Assam), Goodricke, Hindustan Lever, ITC, J. Thomas, Madhya Bharat Papers, Manabarrie Tea, McLeod, Pepsi Co. India Holdings, RPG, Tata Steel, Tata Tea, Tinplate, Warren Tea, Williamson Magor.

THE TELEGRAPH CHALLENGE CUP: Amarawati Tea, B & B, B.M. Chatrath, Capcon, CitiBank, Farinni Export, Four Huns, GI Security, Golf Stoppe, Jamairah Tea, Juco Machinery, Maxtone Paints & Chemicals, Merino Exports, NG Industries, Rungta Group, Sen & Singh Engineers, Sudsons, Tai Industries, Astor Hotel, Vermillion Petro-Chem.

   

 
 
WORRIES BESET TOLLY, MD. SP. 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 12: 
Tollygunge Agragami are more worried about the pitch than opponents SAIL on the eve of their Super Division opener against SAIL at Kishore Bharati Stadium.

The IFA has shifted their first two matches out of ‘home’ Rabindra Sarobar Stadium — which is in the worst shape of all the enclosed grounds — but coach Amal Datta is still not breathing easy. Mohun Bagan’s narrow win and East Bengal’s draw on slushy surfaces earlier this week has clearly made the veteran coach cautious.

“I’ll have to see the ground before finalising my playing XI,” Datta said after supervising a rainy morning session.

The experienced trio of Partha Sarathi Dey, Amitava Chanda and Reazul Mustafa are certainties in defence, but Satish Bharti may not be risked on muddy turf as he has a slight foot injury.

Shashti Duley and Khemtang Paite are the ones Datta will be banking on in midfield, while Moses and Nazimul Haque are candidates for berths upfront.

SAIL have lost both their matches so far, but that is no reason why they can’t spring a suprise tomorrow.

Md. Sporting face BNR

Mohammedan Sporting, too, kick off tomorrow with a match against BNR at Howrah Stadium. Coach Chandu Roy Chowdhury’s problems, of course, are of a different nature.

“The boys have worked out for over a month, but it hasn’t been quality practice,” said Roy Chowdhury. “The continuous rains have meant that I have had to concentrate mainly on physical conditioning. Most of the boys are inexperienced, I don’t know how they’ll do in match-situations.”

With the Mohammedan Sporting management opting to ‘import’ a clutch of little-known footballers, Roy Chowdhury is left with just a couple of old hands — defenders Insan Ali and Aslam Parvez. To compound matters, Parvez is a doubtful starter as he is nursing a leg injury. Lawrence, their Nigerian recruit, is not eligible to play as his clearance hasn’t come.

Match restrictions

To check the deterioration in conditions of enclosed grounds, the IFA has decided to restrict the number of matches at these venues to three per week.

A meeting of all 10 Super Division teams has been called Tuesday to discuss the ground-related problem. “We’ll tell them to maintain their respective grounds, otherwise they themselves will have to face the consequences,” said IFA joint secretary Ranjit Gupta.

The IFA also plans to set up a committee to monitor all enclosed grounds every fortnight.

   

 
 
LEIPUS LIGHT ON SPIKE THEORY 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, July 12: 
On Day I (Monday), the Board had no real explanation for Sachin Tendulkar’s injury.

On Day II, the world was told that he accidently spiked himself (“right foot, with spikes, landing between toe and heel of left foot...”)

Confusing to say the least.

Then, yesterday, manager Chetan Chauhan spiked that and offered his own explanation: “The injury has been wear-and-tear induced...”

With Sachin himself not available for comment — till this evening, that is — The Telegraph spoke to the city-based captain, Sourav Ganguly, and physio Andrew Leipus, currently in Johannesburg.

This is what they said:

Sourav: Look, I’m not quite sure how the injury occurred, but Sachin was in pain (during the tri-series final in Harare) and, clearly, in much discomfort.

Leipus: Sachin didn’t spike himself. It’s just that he landed very awkwardly, on the right foot, and one of the spikes pushed-up. As a result, the sesamoid bone got badly bruised. Such injuries are very painful and, really, the only treatment is rest.

Certainly sounds convincing, at least till such time that somebody can ‘better’ Leipus’ effort.

   

 
 
NEW SPONSOR FOR INDIAN PGA 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 12: 
The Indian PGA Tour, hit by the tobacco sponsorship ban, has got a new title sponsor — Hero Honda.

The season kicks off with the Rs 7.5 lakh Hindu Open in Chennai, followed by the Rs 8.5 lakh Cotton City Open in Coimbatore.

Thirty events are on the calendar with a total prize-money of Rs 2.30 crore.

RCGC to host 5 events

The Indian Golf Union has released its calendar for the 2001-2002 season. The RCGC has got five events starting with the East India Amateur (match play) meet from December 19-25.

The other meets scheduled at RCGC are: East India junior & sub-junior (Dec. 26-29); All India junior & sub-junior (Jan. 1-4, 2002); All India Amateur and Int. Team Match (Feb. 10-17); Inter-zonal Match play & RCGC Cup (March 21-24).

   

 
 
LORD’S SPECIALIST FOR CAB 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 12: 
Englishman Alan Ramsay is arriving Sunday to oversee the laying of new synthetic surface at the Pankaj Gupta Indoor Training Centre.

CAB joint secretary Debdas Banerjee said the refurbished indoor facility will be ready soon and inaugurated before the annual prize distribution function on July 28. Ramsay had set up the Lord’s indoor training centre.

   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACES/ ANNALEE MAKES IT EIGHT IN-A-ROW 
 
 
BY STAR RACER
 
Calcutta, July12: 
On a day ruled by favourites, a heavily fancied Annalee displayed further improvement on her winter form when the Vijay Singh-trained filly coasted home an easy winner of the 1,200m Commuter Cup, today’s feature event. Unbeaten till date in her last seven starts Annalee, who was closely handicapped with Alyssum, cruised passed the stablemate 300m from home to stretch her winning streak to eight. Cristopher Alford who partnered the Gold Discovery-Precocity filly to victory, was also associated with the win of other two favourites from Vijay’s yard. Incidentally, Vijay is in Bangalore to saddle Ansbach, a Bangalore Derby runner on Sunday.

Jockey suspended: S. Shanker, the jockey of Software in the Balchand Handicap, was suspended by the stewards, from July 22 to August 9, and was also fined Rs 2,500 for improper riding.

RESULTS

1. Whimbrel Handicap 1,100m: (2-4-1-5) Andrada (C. Alford) 1; Storm Centre (Upadhya) 2; Bird’s Empire (Yasin) 3; Global Harmony (P. Kumar) 4. Won by: 3; 1-1/2; 3/4; (1-12.6). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 10; 18; Quinella: 18; Tanala: 64. Fav: Andrada (2). Winner trained by Vijay S.

2. Balchand Handicap 1,400m: (4-2-1-5) Automatic (C. Alford) 1; Beau Bruno (B. Gurang) 2; Raaz (Haroon) 3; Scavenger’s Son (Tamang) 4. Won by: 1-1/4; 1-3/4; 5-1/4; (1-33.1). Tote: Win Rs 26; Place: 13; 15; 17; Quinella: 54; Tanala: 192. Fav: Automatic (4). Winner trained by Vijay S.

3. Commuter Cup 1,200m: (3-2-1) Annalee (C. Alford) 1; Alyssum (A. P. Singh) 2; Crimson King (B. Gurang) 3. Won by: 3-3/4; Dist; (1-17.9). Tote: Win Rs 12; Quinella: 12. Fav: Annalee (3). Winner trained by Vijay S.

4. Kilcloon Handicap 1,200m: (2-3-4-1) Flying Scot (Smith) 1; Glass Slipper (Gowli) 2; Crest Star (Yasin) 3; Black Mane (Kujur) 4. Won by: 1; 1-1/2; 3/4; (1-20.7). Tote: Win Rs 18; Place: 15; 17; Quinella: 24; Tanala: 133. Fav: Flying Scot (2). Winner trained by Javed K.

5. Fire Flash Cup 1,100m: (7-5-9-2) Sky Command (Rutherford) 1; Ashbury (Surender) 2; Queen’s Logic (C. Alford) 3; Grand Lodge (Bird) 4. Won by: 1-1/2; 3-1/4; 2-3/4; (1-11.7). Tote: Win Rs 59; Place: 18; 31; 15; Quinella: 260; Tanala: 1,359. Fav: Santillana (3). Winner trained by Mujeeb R.

6. Blacktoi Handicap 1,000m: (6-1-2-4) Flying Power (Kujur) 1; Nearco Prince (Islam) 2; Appyness (C. Alford) 3; Stately Honour (Bird) 4. Won by: 3/4; SH; Nk; (1-7.1). Tote: Win Rs 135; Place: 32; 37; 16; Quinella: 1,340; Tanala: 6,857. Fav: Appyness (2). Winner trained by D. Karki.

Jackpot: Rs 7,180; (C) Rs 86.

Treble: (i) Rs 34; (ii) Rs 2,186.
   

 
 
TRACK TRIALS/ AZURICA WORKS WELL 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, July 12: 
Azurica was impressive when the following horses exercised today:

Outer sand track

1,400m: Angeles (C. Alfrod) 1-56s; (400m) 33s. Giorgio (Rb) in 1-58s; (400m) 31s.

800m: Azurica (Rb) and No Regrets (Haroon) in 58s; (400m) 27s. They were level. Treasurer (Rb) and Astride (C. Alford) in 1-3s; (400m) 31s. Former far better.

Sand track

1,200m: Tajik (Rb) in 1-31s; (400m) 28s. Added Asset (B. Gurang) in 1-32s; (400m) 32s.

800m: Ballet Master (Yasin) in 54s; (400m) 25s. Note. Cavala (V. Jaiswal) in 55s; (400m) 25s. Moved easy. Starina (Rutherford) in 57s; (400m) 25s. Handy. Just Kidding (Rutherford) in 1-0s; (400m) 24s. Easy. Best In Show (B. Gurang) in 59s; (400m) 28s. Fit. Royal Ruler (Rutherford) in 59s; (400m) 27s. Fit. Pure Passion (Rutherford) in 52s; (400m) 24s. Good. Mr. Bombshell (B. Gurang) in 1-3s; (400m) 28s. Anokato (B. Gurang) in 1-1s; (400m) 28s. Easy. Regency Times (P. Kumar) in 1-0s; (400m) 27s.

600m: Alborada (Yasin) and Lovely Prospect (B. Gurang) in 48s; (400m) 29s. Fromer 3 ls better.

400m: Chivalrous (Rb) in 30s. Alumnus (Tamang) and Aberdan (Yasin) in 31.    

 

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