Dravid, Sourav move up
Perfect start for Anand
Bhutia uncertain vs Sheffield
Kandy security tightened on Indian request
Bhupathi, Lareau in final
Shiv Prakash champion
Pune Races/ Star Wish bags Wadia Trophy
Calcutta Races/ Six events in Wednesday’s card

 
 
DRAVID, SOURAV MOVE UP 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Kandy, Aug.19: 
If it’s Sri Lanka, the wicket must have a green top. Indeed, the Lankans are intent on welcoming India with a green carpet at all centres. Last week, it was the International Stadium in Galle. Now, it’s the Asgiriya. The second Test begins Wednesday.

Late tonight, manager Mate announced in Kandy that “no” replacement is being sent. He has been formally informed of this by the Board.

Actually, the green look didn’t come as a huge surprise to Sourav Ganguly and Co. but of some concern is the high degree of moisture. Apparently, there was little sunshine yesterday. And today, the sun wasn’t exactly scorching either.

In any case, being at a much higher altitude than other centres, the Asgiriya tends to favour seamers. Of course, the last India versus Lanka Test here (July 1993) saw a mere 12 overs and 50 minutes of action, and is remembered for being the shortest in history.

To talk of the present, the selectors back home have rejected the thinktank’s request for Ajit Agarkar as Jawagal Srinath’s replacement. According to The Telegraph’s sources, if a replacement is sent, he will be Baroda’s Rakesh Patel, who was among the pre-season probables but had to pull out of the Bangalore conditioning camp owing to injury.

In the morning, manager Anant Mate and coach John Wright spoke to BCCI secretary Jaywant Lele and, in the afternoon, Lele called to say “Agarkar won’t be sent.” It’s then that Wright was prompted into asking whether Patel was fit. Lele, one learns, confirmed he was and added that the selectors’ formal decision would be conveyed “by tonight.”

But whether Patel, who certainly is a promising allrounder, makes it or not, Srinath’s berth in the XI will go to Harvinder Singh. Harvinder’s last Test was over three years ago, against Australia in Bangalore.

That Harvinder will play (as of now, the only change from the Galle XI) was conveyed to him by the captain himself and, later, speaking exclusively, Harvinder said with a smile: “I’m fully prepared... Main poori koshish karunga. After that, it is up to God and Sanath Jayasuriya!”

The Indian batting order, by the way, will see a change: Vice-captain Rahul Dravid is set to bat at No. 3 and Sourav at No. 4. They will be followed by Mohammed Kaif and Hemang Badani. In Galle, Kaif had come at 3.

Sourav’s pep talk

Being one down in the three-Test series, the task for the Indians is cut out. And, in a move aimed at lifting the team’s morale, Sourav gave a ten-minute “pep talk” this morning, ahead of the afternoon’s workout.

“I told the boys that, only recently, we made splendid comebacks (versus Australia in Tests and the recent tri-series) and, so, there is no reason to lose hope. Rather, everybody should draw confidence from the two comebacks and take the field in a positive frame of mind,” Sourav revealed.

Incidentally, Sourav spent an extra 20 minutes at nets (with Harvinder bowling) after the time allotted for batting practice was over. “Well, yes, I’m feeling good... Hopefully, the effort I’m consistently putting in will be rewarded,” the captain remarked.

Perera stays in XVI

Meanwhile, the Lankans have retained Suresh Perera in their XVI. Perera’s action has been questioned by umpire Steve Bucknor, and the allrounder will now go through the ICC’s action-review process before he can again bowl. The Lankan XVI shows no change from the first Test squad.

   

 
 
PERFECT START FOR ANAND 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
Fide world champion Viswanathan Anand scored a flawless five out five on the first day of the two-day rapid event at the Villarobledo International Open tournament last night, according to information reaching here. The two-day event in Villarrobeldo, Spain, carries a total prize purse of three million pesetas (approximately US $ 16,500) and has attracted some 30-odd GMs and Ims in a field of more than 180 players.

Anand shared the top spot with Yugoslav player, Ljubomir Ljubojevic, who also had a similar score of five out of five. Four more rounds will be played on the second day.

Five players with 4.5 points each are in the shared third place, and this bunch includes Alexei Shirov of Spain, whom Anand beat in the Fide World Championships final last year. The other four with 4.5 points are GM Francisco Valleja (Spain), GM Miaden Palac (Croatia), GM Bojan Kurajica (Bosnia) and IM Michael Oratovsky (Israel).

Another bunch of 15 players have four points each and this bunch includes Georgian Elizbar Ubilava, who has been Anand’s second for the past six years, Slovenian GM Alexander Beliavsky and Swiss GM Vadim Milov.

Interestingly, the draw saw Anand clash with Ubilava in his fifth round and the Indian duly won in 36 moves after a rather irregular opening.

In his opening round, the top seeded Indian beat untitled Gabriel Fernandez and then in the second, Anand beat Fide Master Daniel Barria with black pieces. The third round saw Anand score another fluent win with white pieces against Oscar de La Riva. In the fourth round, Anand with black scored a full point against Swedish GM Evgenij Agrest.

In the fifth round, Anand rounded off the day with a good win over Ubilava.

   

 
 
BHUTIA UNCERTAIN VS SHEFFIELD 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
Bhaichung Bhutia is uncertain for what would have been a major match of his career in English football.

Bury FC meet former Premier League side Sheffield Wednesday in a FA League Cup match Tuesday, but the Indian captain suffered a knee injury in yesterday’s second division match versus Queen’s Park Rangers which makes him doubtful. Sheffield are currently in the first division.

Speaking to The Telegraph over telephone yesterday, Bhutia said he will undergo a medical test tomorrow. He had to be taken off at half time yesterday and his team lost 1-2 (as reported briefly in Sunday’s City edition).

“This is a big match but I have just two days to recover, I don’t know whether I can play though I desperately want to,” Bhutia said. The Indian started the match with Paul Newby as strike partner and his team lost despite taking the lead. Bury conceded two goals in the second half, one from a penalty and another from a direct free-kick, to stay on three points after two matches.

However, Bhutia said he was confident of regaining fitness before the next league match — an away fixture against Huddersfield Town Saturday.

Bhutia, yet to score in a competitive match this season, seems to be rated highly by coach Andy Preece who was quoted as saying the following in the club website: “We will give him (Bhutia) a couple of days and see what it’s like on Monday. It’s a shame because I thought he was one of our better players but he got to the stage where he couldn’t turn quickly enough.”

The coach added he wanted to keep Bhutia on the field yesterday but pulled him out since he couldn’t carry on. The Indian had a brush against Premiership giants Manchester United in a friendly recently.

   

 
 
KANDY SECURITY TIGHTENED ON INDIAN REQUEST 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Kandy, Aug. 19: 
The already choking security for the touring Indian cricketers has been tightened further.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, this has been done on a “request” from India’s deputy high commission here. It is understood that a “high-level” meeting was convened this morning and the DIG (Kandy), Mahinda Jayasuriya, instructed his officers to be more than just be on their toes.

And so, besides the many armed personnel both at the team hotel (the beautiful Mahaweli Reach) and the Asgiriya Stadium, two checkpoints have mushroomed on the 150 metres stretch from the main road to the hotel, which is above city-level.

Incidentally, there was a moment of anxiety for security personnel at the Asgiriya — during the Indian team’s afternoon practice — when a gentleman walked in claiming to be from the Indian Media. When challenged, he said his accreditation had been misplaced. Not wanting to take chances, he was escorted out by a couple of constables.

The Sri Lankans arrive tomorrow, for the second Test beginning Wednesday.

   

 
 
BHUPATHI, LAREAU IN FINAL 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
Mahesh Bhupathi and Sebastien Lareau are having a ball in Indianapolis.

The scratch Indo-Canadian pair, coming together only because Leander Paes has taken a break, advanced to the semi-finals of the $800,000 RCA Championship with a fighting win over John Laffnie De Jager and Robbie Koenig.

According to information received here, eighth seeds Bhupathi and Lareau ousted the South African duo 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) yesterday. Bhupathi and Lareau, who had scalped top seeds Todd Woodbridge and Jonas Bjorkman Friday, will meet the winners of the Mark Knowles-Brian MacPhie versus Chris Haggard-Tom VanHoudt semi-final.

   

 
 
SHIV PRAKASH CHAMPION 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
Veteran Shiv Prakash played a solid final round to emerge champion in the inaugural Cotton City Open golf meet in Coimbatore today.

According to information received here, Shiv shot a one-over 73, and that was enough to give him his first title in ten months and the winner’s cheque for Rs 1,37,700. Shiv’s final tally stood at two-under 286, three strokes better than the second placed Vivek Bhandari of Delhi.

Mukesh Kumar was third at 292, while Chandigarh’s Amritinder Singh and Patna’s Mohammed Islam tied for fourth place at 294.

Rahil Gangjee gave a good account of himself with a seventh-place finish at 296, followed Yusuf Ali of Calcutta (295).

   

 
 
PUNE RACES/ STAR WISH BAGS WADIA TROPHY 
 
 
BY HONKY DORY
 
Pune, Aug. 19: 
The Sorab Sunderji-trained Star Wish scored an easy victory in the 1,400m F. D. Wadia Trophy at the Pune races on Sunday. C. Rajendra partnered the Don’t Forget Me-Double Wish three-year-old gelding.

RESULTS

(With inter-state dividends)

1. Air Supremo Plate 1,000m: (6-5-2) War ‘N’ Peace (Ruzaan) 1; Chocolate Chip 2; Arabian Fighter 3. Won by: 3; SH; (1-1.4). Tote: Win Rs 45; Place: 24; 18; Quinella: 71; Tanala: 308. Fav: Arabian Fighter (2).

2. Better See Plate 1,200m: (2-6-4) Idaho (Rupesh) 1; Frequency 2; Blues Clues 3.Won by: 1-3/4; 2-3/4; (1-14.1). Tote: Win Rs 23; Place: 12; 14; 16; Quinella: 38; Tanala: 173. Fav: Idaho (2).

3. Glacier Plate 1,400m: (1-6-3) Consortium (Nirmal) 1; Aylesfield 2; Cafe Au Lait 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 6-1/2; (1-28.2). Tote: Win Rs 19; Place: 11; 33; 20; Quinella: 138; Tanala: 956. Fav: Consortium (1).

4. Chashm-E-Shahi Plate 1,100m: (3-5-6) Palazzio (Kamlesh) 1; Hiccups 2; Pretty Bee 3. Won by: Dist; SH; (1-6.6). Tote: Win Rs 16; Place: 12; 29; 16; Quinella: 95; Tanala: 281. Fav: Palazzio (3).

5. Timeless Beauty Plate 2,000m: (9-4-8) Perfect Storm (Chauhan) 1; Crown Dream 2; Speakeasy 3. Won by: 4-1/4; 2-1/4; (2-11). Tote: Win Rs 127; Place: 25; 17; 41; Quinella: 196; Tanala: 8,412. Fav: Discover (5).

6. F. D. Wadia Trophy 1,400m: (4-8-2) Star Wish (Rajendra) 1; Raziya 2; River God 3. Won by: 1-1/2; Nk; (1-27.3). Tote: Win Rs 57; Place: 18; 11; 18; Quinella: 30; Tanala: 323. Fav: Raziya (8).

7. Lord Ben Plate 1,100m: (2-10-4) Emmanuel’s Pet (A. Imran) 1; Rosehill Gardens 2; Adam’s Blessings 3. Won by: 3/4 ; 1/2; (1-7.6). Tote: Win Rs 80; Place: 23; 19; 39; Quinella: 339; Tanala: 8,376. Fav: Triumphant (3).

8. Ticoma Plate 1,200m: (9-3-2) Dream Lover (Merchant) 1; Fantasy 2; Meringue 3. Won by: 4-3/4; 1; (1-11.9). Tote: Win Rs 48; Place: 20; 27; 20; Quinella:179; Tanala: 922. Fav: Meringue (2).

Jackpot: Rs 39,053; (C) Rs 4,882.

Treble: (i) Rs 318; (ii) Rs 628; (iii) Rs 2,925.

   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACES/ SIX EVENTS IN WEDNESDAY’S CARD 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
The six-event Wednesday’s card features the Whispering Grass Handicap, a Class III event. Fitst race starts at 1.40 pm.

ACCEPTANCES

1. Pourboire Handicap 1,200m (Cl IV, Rt. 22-50) 1.40 pm: Ardon 60; Wandering Warrior 57; Pneumatic Power 54.5; Stately Honour 52; Global Harmony 50.5.

2. Birthday Girl Handicap 1,000m (Cl III, Rt. 44-72) 2.20 pm: Scarlet Raider 60; Endless Surprise 58.5; Sadaf 56; Addab 55.5; Starina 55.5; Aracruz 54; Almond Rock 53; On The Bit 51.5; Alborada 50.5.

3. Best of All Cup 2,000m (Cl IV; Cl V eligible Rt. 00-50) 2.50 pm: Scavenger’s Son 60; Ascoril 57; Ballard Lady 51.5; Keep The Faith 47.

4. Flower Dust Cup 1,000m (Cl V, Rt. 00-28) 3.25 pm: Tsaynen Blue 60.5; Adorer 59.5; Finders Keepers 56; Jeypore 56; Lovely Duchess 55; Aureate 54.5; Heaven’s Blessing 54; Remember Me 53.5; Lively Project 52; Main To Measure 49.5; Victoria Rose 48.5.

5. Whispering Grass Handicap 1,200m (Cl III, 5-y-o & over Rt. 44-72) 4.05 pm: Carbon Copy 60; Sky Command 59.5; Splendid Star 59.5; Crimson King 58; Aflicker 55.5; Charlene 55.5; Tajik 54; Kargil Soldier 53; Solo Act 51.5; Spanish Drum’s 51.5; High Life 48.

6. Record Reign Handicap 1,400m (Cl V, Rt. 00-28) 4.40 pm: Calculate 60; Eau Savage 58; Fencai 58; Stella Blue 56; Aberdan 55; Abandoned 54.5; Aventura 54.5; Maltayar 54; Grecian Prince 52.5; Consul’s Secret 52; Break Fast At Tiffany 51.5 Ghunghat 49.

Jackpot: 2; 3; 4; 5 & 6.

Treble: (i) 1; 2 & 3; (ii) 4; 5 & 6.

   
 

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