Galle greentop worries India
Ousted BCCSL chief plans a comeback
Paes-Bhupathi fells top seeds
Harikrishna outsmarts Sasikiran
Sudip, Amrita emerge best
Bury FC win
Pune Races/ Oath wins Chief of Kagal Trophy
Race Review/ Ascoril no match for Andrada

 
 
GALLE GREENTOP WORRIES INDIA 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Galle, Aug. 12: 
It’s not a very alarming development, but the Indians could have done without captain Sourav Ganguly being laid low with “fever.” Minor though this is, it’s still another hiccup in the build-up to the three-Test series beginning Tuesday.

Heavy early-morning showers in this picturesque coastal town delayed the Indians’ workout by 90 minutes and, soon after the team reached the International Stadium, Sourav began feeling unwell. A quick check-up by physio Andrew Leipus and the captain was advised to return to the (designer Lighthouse) hotel and rest.

In the evening, though, Sourav told The Telegraph he was better. “I think I caught the chill yesterday, when we headed straight for the pool after the customary sweaty workout... I’ve begun taking the anti-biotics but, what is irritating, is the cough,” he added, heading for the hotel’s snooker room to take his mind off the illness. [Incidentally, Sourav didn’t just have wife Dona following him — a few footsteps behind was a Ministerial Security Division ‘shadow.’]

Of course, Sourav’s absence at nets had triggered rumours of the most outrageous kind. Sri Lankan coach Dav Whatmore, for instance, even asked: “Is it true your captain has suspected appendicitis?”

But while there is no threat (as of now) of Sourav not taking the field Tuesday, the Indians haven’t been too impressed by the look of the wicket. To quote coach John Wright, “it’s difficult to differentiate it from the rest of the lush outfield... The wicket is so green.”

Obviously, Sri Lanka wish to make the most of Dilhara Fernando’s form and, in any case, Chaminda Vaas has generally been more than a handful for most batsmen. Ironically, the International Stadium curator is former (controversial) offspinner Jayananda Warnaweera. He has overseen the preparation of anything but a turner.

Influenced largely by the conditions, both India and Sri Lanka will play three quicks. The task will be entrusted to Jawagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan (who bowled at full steam this morning) and Venkatesh Prasad; Vaas, Fernando and either Suresh or Ruchira Perera.

Actually, the Sri Lankans may even consider fielding both the Pereras, at the expense of a batsman.

As Wright pointed out, the new-ball will be the focal point. Should India bowl first, absolutely no width can be given. Equally, if India have to bat, just how well Shiv Sundar Das and Sadagopan Ramesh see off the first session (at least) will determine to what extent the ball can roll India’s way.

It’s significant that Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman aren’t around. And, among bowlers, unavailable have been Anil Kumble and Ashish Nehra, a recent casualty. Yet, the Sri Lankans aren’t smug.

Speaking exclusively, captain Sanath Jayasuriya said: “Yes, the Indians have been affected by the absence of the Tendulkars. But that doesn’t necessarily give us a big advantage. After all, the replacements will be doubly keen to make a good impression.”

Echoing similar thoughts, Whatmore remarked: “On paper, the Indians are without some key players. But, really, that doesn’t make a difference where Sri Lanka is concerned. To win, we will still have to play good cricket. More important, do so consistently.”

That, for you, is talking like a pro.

Martin arrives

Meanwhile, Jacob Martin, Sachin’s replacement in the XVI, reached Galle late today.

   

 
 
OUSTED BCCSL CHIEF PLANS A COMEBACK 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Galle, Aug. 12: 
Ousted president Thilanga Sumathipala is plotting to stage a comeback as the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL) chief. Jayanta Dharmadasa, too, is working overtime to ensure he gets the post once occupied by elder brother Upali. Both these ambitious men, though, have to wait.

After all, one of them can only get the presidency after the government decides to hold elections. At the moment, the BCCSL is being run by a five-member Interim Committee appointed by Sri Lankan sports (and tourism) minister Lakshman Kiriella.

The BCCSL’s chief executive is former captain Anura Tennekoon.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, both Sumathipala and Dharmadasa are “doing their best” to see the government announces early elections. However, indications are that Kiriella isn’t exactly in a hurry to oblige. He has even gone on record saying the interim body could hold charge till the 2003 World Cup.

Ironically, it’s the execution of an excellent idea — a stadium in Dambulla, which has limited rain in the monsoons — that led to Sumathipala’s ouster. Apparently, a number of charges were traded over the cost-factor and, eventually, he had to go.

Clearly, having an Interim Committee to run the country’s cricket isn’t a healthy sign. What is pleasing, though, is that ex-cricketers are well-represented not just on the interim body, but the key panels appointed by it.

Headed by Vijay Mallasekara, the Interim Committee comprises former captain Michael Tissera, Sidath Wettimuny and Asantha De Mel, besides Richard Ebel. Then, Wettimuny is also chairman of the National Development Committee, where ex-captain (former chief selector and coach, too) Duleep Mendis is director.

Mendis and Wettimuny’s colleagues on that panel include Tissera, De Mel and Brendon Kuruppu. The last-named is a selector as well.

The high-profile Cricket Committee is packed with ex-captains: Tissera, who is the chairman, Tennekoon, Bandula Warnapura, Ranjan Madugalle and Arjuna Ranatunga. The other members are Wettimuny and former umpire K.T.Francis.

For now, Ranatunga is keeping a low-profile. However, in time to come (provided he isn’t sidelined), Ranatunga may be the one to watch out for.

Sri Lankan nominees

Meanwhile, former national coach Roy Dias is a candidate for the Asian Cricket Council/Asian Cricket Foundation’s Sri Lanka-specific development officer’s post. The others are: Rumesh Ratnayeke, Kuruppu and Jerome Jayaratne. The last-named isn’t an ex-international, but quite a few feel he has the “best credentials.”

The appointment should be made in Calcutta, early next week.

Where India is concerned, Roger Binny seems the favourite as Madanlal and Ashok Malhotra, two of the other candidates, won’t be disturbed as selectors. Woorkeri Raman’s hat is in the ring, too.

Till this evening, though, it wasn’t clear who Pakistan’s candidates were.

   

 
 
PAES-BHUPATHI FELLS TOP SEEDS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 12: 
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi toppled top seeds Todd Woodbridge and Jonas Bjorkman yesterday en route to the final of the Cincinnati Masters Series event.

According to information received here, the sixth-seeded Indians won 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-2) in the first semi-final yesterday. It was sweet revenge for the two-time French Open champions who had been blasted in straight sets by the Aussie-Swede duo in their only previous meeting earlier this year.

The Indians — gunning for their fourth title of the year and 20th overall — will face Martin Damm and David Prinosil who edged out Nicolas Lapentti and Jeff Tarango 2-6, 7-6 (9-7), 7-5 today. The second semi-final, scheduled last evening, had been washed out.

   

 
 
HARIKRISHNA OUTSMARTS SASIKIRAN 
 
 
BY BIPIN SHENOY
 
Calcutta, Aug. 12: 
With a string of victories behind him, top seed Xu Jun of China was content with a draw against Esham Ghaem Maghami in the 5th round of the Asian men’s chess championship at Alekhine Chess Club today. Despite today’s draw, Xu Jun leads the fray with 4.5 points.

Three players — Eshan Ghaem Maghami, Alexie Barsov and Mahjoob Morteza — jointly share the second spot with 4 points apiece.

The highlight of the day’s play, however, was IM P Harikrishna’s win over 5th seed, GM Krishnan Sasikiran and the Bangladeshi youngster Abdula Al- Rakib’s draw against GM Leonid Yurtaev.

Alexie Barsov of Uzbekistan made short work of Mohmad Al-Modiakhi of Qatar in a sharp tactical game which arose from the Winawer variation of the French defence. Modiakhi allowed Barsov to penetrate his position with both the Knights and was forced to resign when he lost his Queen by a Knight fork.

Praveen Thipsay — the only Indian to remain unbeaten so far — drew with second seed, GM Peng Xiaomin of China despite having a better position for most part of the game. In a Ruy Lopez opening he allowed his opponent to equalize but later created pressure. Xiaomin exchanged the Queens after which a draw became inevitable.

IM Surya Sekhar Ganguly wriggled out of a tight spot by complicating the game in a King’s Gambit against GM S. Izmukambetov. With this win, Ganguly has taken his tally to 3 points.

Harikrishna upset Sasikiran in a tense battle which went on for 64 moves in a King’s Indian defence. Sasikiran held the advantage in the opening but Harikrishna turned the tables on him in the endgame where his passed pawn on a7 decided the outcome of the game in his favour.

Untitled Mahjoob Morteza of Iran caused a major upset when he won against IM Zang Pengxiang of China in an unusual Sicilian in 32 moves.

GM Dibyendu Barua was locked in a sharp tactical battle against GM Utut Adianto of Indonesia in a Queen’s pawn opening. “I would have got an advantageous position had I played Bb4 instead of ed5”, Dibyendu told The Telegraph after the game. “His Queen was misplaced on b1, but after he played b4 was on the defensive. I lost a pawn but had adequate compensation for it and the game was drawn”.

IM D.V. Prasad played a brilliant game in the Scheveningen variarion of the Sicilian defence against IM Orazly Annageldyev of Turkmenistan.

TOP BOARD RESULTS

Xu Jun (4.5) drew Ehsan Ghaem Maghami (4); Mohamad Al-Modiahki (3.5) lost to Alexei Barsov (4); Yurtaev Leonid (3.5) drew Abdulla Al-Rakib (3.5); Marat Dzhumaev (3.5) drew Tahir Vakhidov (3.5); Zhang Pengxiang (3) lost to Morteza Mahjoob (4); P.M. Thipsay (3.5) drew Peng Xiaomin (3); Evgeny Vladimorov (2.5) lost to Li Wenliang (3.5); Utut Adianto (3) drew Dibyendu Barua (3); P. Harikrishna (3.5) bt K. Sasikiran (2.5); Darmen Sadvakasov (2.5) lost to Wang Yue (3.5); Wu Wenjin (3) drew Vladimir Egin (3); Liang Jingrong (3) drew Wang Zili (3); Saidali Iuldachev (3.5) bt Eugene Torre (2.5); Ziaur Rahman (3.5) bt Rogelio Antonio Jr (2.5); Anh Dung Nguyen (3.5) bt Mark Paragua (2.5).

OTHER INDIANS: Sriram Jha (2.5) drew Yu Shaoteng (2.5); Orazly Annagelldyev (2) lost to D.V. Prasad (3); Lanka Ravi (2.5) drew Odeev Handszar (2.5); S. Izmukhambetov (2) lost to S.S. Ganguly (3); Md. Al Sayed (2) bt S. Chanda (1); Elshan Moradiabadi (2) bt N.K. Mishra (1); TDR Pieris (1) lost to P. Konguvel (2).

   

 
 
SUDIP, AMRITA EMERGE BEST 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 12: 
Top seed Sudip Bhattacharjee and second seed Amrita Mukherjee won the junior boys and girls singles titles respectively in the state junior badminton championships at Khudiram Anushilan Kendra today.

Sudip beat Gourab Das 15-3, 15-10 while Amrita toppled top seed Payel Banerjee 11-6, 11-7 in the finals. Payel, however, compendated her junior girls singles loss by emerging champion in the sub-junior category.

RESULTS

(all singles finals)

Junior boys — Sudip Bhattacharjee bt Gourab Das 15-3, 15-10; Junior girls — Amrita Mukherjee bt Payel Banerjee 11-6, 11-7; Sub-jr boys — Jishnu Sanyal bt Sandipan Banerjee 15-8, 8-15, 15-5; Sub-jr girls — Payel Banerjee bt Mukta Bindu Basu 5-11, 11-3, 11-4; Mini boys — Ratikanta Saha bt Anirban Naskar 15-1, 15-6; Mini girls — Dipika Haldar bt Soumi Dutta 11-3, 11-4.

   

 
 
BURY FC WIN 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 12: 
Bhaichung Bhutia’s Bury FC made a good start to the English second division league yesterday, beating Tranmere Rovers 2-1 in an away match.

The Indian captain started the match but didn’t score. John Newby and Paul Reid were the ones among the goals for Bury FC and Parkinson was the lone scorer for second division newcomers Tranmere. Bury FC play their next match at home against Queen’s Park Rangers.

   

 
 
PUNE RACES/ OATH WINS CHIEF OF KAGAL TROPHY 
 
 
BY HONKY DORY
 
Pune, Aug. 12: 
Trained by Imtiaz Sait, the three-year-old Oath walked away with the class II Chief of Kagal Trophy, the main event at the Pune races on Sunday. Rajinder partnered the Wattlefield-Cuirie gelding.

RESULTS

(With inter-state dividends)
1. Poliche Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (6-12-2) Rhythm Divine (Mann) 1; Winning Melody 2; Smooth Operator 3. Won by: Hd; 1-1/4; (1-16.6). Tote: Win Rs 231; Place: 31; 17; 39; Quinella: 524; Tanala: 24,988. Fav: Multi Millionaire (10).
2. Janice Plate 1,000m: (1-5-2) Reaching Out (R. Pandey) 1; The Gladiator 2; Bud Royale 3. Won by: 4-1/2; 4-3/4; (1-2.1). Tote: Win Rs 16; Place: 12; 12; 59; Quinella: 18; Tanala: 367. Fav: Reaching Out (1).
3. Chief of Kagal Trophy 1,600m: (7-1-5) Oath (Rajinder) 1; Machrihanish 2; Crowning Moment 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 4-1/4; (1-41.1). Tote: Win Rs 75; Place: 21; 14; 14; Quinella: 101; Tanala: 1,020. Fav: Machrihanish (1).
4. Victoria Falls Plate 1,200m: (1-8-12) Millenium Star (Nirmal) 1; Timbavati 2; Right Arrow 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 1-3/4; (1-15). Tote: Win Rs 53; Place: 20; 18; 50; Quinella: 109; Tanala: 3,694. Fav: Alice Charms (2).
5. Torrential Plate 1,600m: (2-1-6) Heaven Sent (Bast) 1; The Silken Thomas 2; Saranyu 3. Not run: Loretta (7). Won by: 1-3/4; Hd; (1-42.8). Tote: Win Rs 37; Place: 19; 108; 42; Quinella: 844; Tanala: 21,982. Fav: Conflagration (8).
6. Fetchmefortune Plate 1,200m: (4-3-2) Aphaia (Bajrang) 1; Star Power 2; Dahana 3. Won by: Dist; 2; (1-13.4). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 13; 23; 25; Quinella: 58; Tanala: 305. Fav: Aphaia (4).
7. Mystic Memory Trophy 2,000m: (5-2-6) Reflecting (Prakash) 1; Altazano 2; Count Dracula 3. Not run: Bonjour Tristesse (9). Won by: Nk; 3-1/2; (2-11.5). Tote: Win Rs 20; Place: 10; 25; 18; Quinella: 71; Tanala: 364. Fav: Reflecting (5).
8. Poliche Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (1-12-5) Vengeance (Nirmal) 1; Smokey Joe 2; Kahini 3. Won by: 3/4; 1-1/4; (1-15). Tote: Win Rs 39; Place: 20; 23; 26; Quinella: 98; Tanala: 798. Fav: Vengeance (1).
Jackpot: Rs 2,192; (C) Rs 256.
Treble: (i) Rs 6,607; (ii) Rs 94.
   

 
 
RACE REVIEW/ ASCORIL NO MATCH FOR ANDRADA 
 
 
BY STAR RACER
 
 
When Andrada won the Calcutta Fillies Trial Stakes last Thursday, the Gold Discovery-Rose of Sharon daughter entered into the city’s turf record books as she beat her only rival in a two horse-field, the smallest ever in any of a monsoon season’s classics. The Vijay Singh-trained three-year-old filly easily overcame the tame challenge from her stable-mate Ascoril who was considered to have equal credentials to win, if not better, over a 1,400m journey.

Andrada’s past performance had indicated that she was comfortable basically over sharp sprints, thus Cristopher also needed to manoeuvre pace in the race to his advantage. But bookmakers thought otherwise and installed her as a quarter-money favourite.

Even the 3-1/2 kg weight advantage favouring Ascoril, by the terms of the race, was not considered to be a major factor in view of poor jockey like Surender Singh guiding the fortunes of the Green Forest-Pretty Eyes daughter.

The race, incidentally, was run on expected lines with Cristopher taking the matter in his hands right from the start. He slowed down the pace early in the race but the way Andrada accelerated in the last 600m, she could have won over a mile circuit on the day.

If Andrada’s was an armchair ride, Cristopher, only half-an-hour earlier, had used all his expertise in the saddle to guide another hot-favourite Cup of Life to victory in the 1,000m Star Flame Cup. In fact, it was Tsavo who could have turned the table on the favourite had not apprentice Amjad Khan taken the home-turn eight-wide thus finishing on the far-side rails. A verdict of neck separated the two horses.

From a routine dominance of big stables it was good to see, for a change, trainer Javed Khan leading-in two winners. Javed’s two well-backed winner Fencai and Aliqa won their respective events with a degree of comfort. The former, however, had to win the race again in the stewards’ room following an objection lodged by Philip Alford, the jockey of the second place horse Lovely Duchess.

But the objection lacked the punch, and it was overruled. Apprentice Fateh Ali Khan on Fencai had cut across Lovely Duchess in the last furlong of the race but interference of this nature is hardly considered serious enough in the local racing.

Beau Bruno and Scarlet Raider were the two lesser fancied winners who hailed from Daniel David’s yard. If the Bruno’s was, once again, a case of wrong’un from the stable playing the spoilsport in the day’s opener, the Stolen Hours Handicap, the Raider displayed improvement with a repeat victory over Ispahan who was backed as a good thing in the Aztec Cup.

In the two events, jockey Nic Connorton played a contrasting role. While on an even-money favourite Bird’s Empire he failed to inspire the public-choice to overtake the leader Alborada and a late finishing Beau Bruno, Connorton’s handling of Scarlet Raider was a treat to watch. He got the best out of the Foyer-Grain DeFolie four-year-old daughter to pip the John Stephens-filly at the post when she was being hailed as a winner.

   
 

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