Sourav Ganguly set to keep captaincy
Bagan confirm for Gold Cup
Kidderpore net 3 vs WB Police
Delhi meet on APGA Tour
Calcutta Racing/ Grand Lodge may do the trick
Track Trials/ Ascoril, Cool Quest impress

Calcutta, Sept. 4: 
The strong views of former Board president Raj Singh Dungarpur notwithstanding, Sourav Ganguly is set to keep the India captaincy, for the forthcoming tour of South Africa.

An announcement will be made in Mumbai Thursday, a day before the national selectors pick a XV-strong squad for the first-leg of the South Africa tour: The October 5-26 tri-series, featuring India, Kenya and the hosts.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, despite Raj Singh’s intense anti-Sourav lobbying — he favours vice-captain Rahul Dravid’s elevation as a stop-gap measure before Sachin Tendulkar is again ‘persuaded’ to accept the job — there is “no” move within the Board to remove Sourav. East’s Ashok Malhotra, therefore, need not lose much sleep.

[Incidentally two years ago, when he was the president, Raj Singh had successfully opposed Sourav’s appointment as Mohammed Azharuddin’s vice-captain for the Asian Test Championship game in Colombo.]

But, yes, there are whispers that the genial Anant Mate, manager on the Sri Lanka tour, could be “influenced” into giving a “negative report” on the captain. Also, that chief selector Chandu Borde’s trip to Colombo, during the third and final Test at the SSC, was to fulfill a “hidden agenda.” Both Mate and Borde are Pune-based.

Still, if something actually is being planned by the top brass, then no coup would have really been more stealthily plotted. Goes without saying, too, there will then be plenty of ‘bloodshed’.

Already, there’s a significant rift between one-time associates Jagmohan Dalmiya and Dr A.C.Muthiah, the current Board president. And, while officials should have no role in the captaincy, it’s unthinkable that Dalmiya will take it lying down if there’s an 11th hour presidential directive for the selectors to look beyond Sourav.

It should, though, be categorically put on record that Sourav deserves to keep Indian cricket’s No.1 job. Moreover, it will be unfortunate if the 1-2 series loss in Lanka is used as a stick to beat Sourav with. Only six of the XI who played the decider (at the SSC) would have made an appearance had Sachin, Anil Kumble, Jawagal Srinath, V.V.S.Laxman and Ashish Nehra been around.

In any case, if a captain is to be saddled with all the blame, then Sourav alone should receive kudos for the historic come-from-behind victory against Australia six months ago. Both extremes are absurd.

Sure, Sourav hasn’t been contributing in the manner a captain should, but he hit form in Kandy, authoring a Man-of-the-Match award winning unbeaten 98 and, in his very next innings (the first at the SSC), was the victim of an outrageous Dave Orchard decision. The first innings in Galle had also seen Sourav get a rough verdict (from Asoka De Silva).

It’s not that Sourav hasn’t been working hard. He probably needs to work harder.

Much, of course, has been made of Sourav’s run-in with Match Referees. To an extent, the negative headlines have been justified as no captain has been slapped two suspensions (that, too, within eight months). However, while one isn’t defending Sourav, he won’t ever be your ‘conventional’ captain.

“Obviously, I don’t wish to be setting a bad example but, equally, are we players to move about with our mouths taped?” Sourav asked, during an exclusive chat the other day. Frankly, Sourav must himself answer that. If the image-factor comes into the picture, nothing stops the Board president from initiating a one-on-one with the captain.

In some ways, the aggressive manner of Sourav reminds one of the early years of Arjuna Ranatunga’s captaincy. Ranatunga was hardly popular with the opposition, but he was himself clear about not being in business to win a popularity poll. It’s no surprise that Lanka’s World Cup-winning captain has much time for Sourav.

Last week, in Colombo, Ranatunga observed: “Overall, Sourav’s captaincy has been imp-ressive. He is aggressive and, during the Kandy Test specially, wanted things to happen instead of waiting for the batsmen to make mistakes...”

Not many months ago, Australia’s Steve Waugh — no fan of Sourav, by the way — said pretty much the same thing. He even went to the extent on saying there was “no one better” to lead India.

Is Raj Singh listening?

Meanwhile, it is understood that Shiv Sundar Das has an “excellent” chance of making the tri-series XV as reserve opener, after Sachin and Sourav. The Virender Sehwag option will exist as well.

Shiv Sundar, who was positive in both innings at the SSC where he scored 59 and 68, has the temperament to overcome heavy odds. In South Africa, the odds will be just that. Shiv Sundar, though, is uncapped in ODIs.


Calcutta, Sept. 4: 
The Sikkim Governor’s Gold Cup soccer meet will have a brand new address for its 23rd edition. And a glamorous one at that — the new Bhaichung Bhutia Stadium in Namchi in south Sikkim, about two-and-a-half hours’ drive from Gangtok.

Announcing this at a press conference, Sikkim Football Association (SFA) president Tempo Bhutia said the meet will be held from October 28 to November 10. The Palzor Stadium in Gangtok, the regular venue, is undergoing overhaul at a cost of Rs 19 crore. Hence the need for a new site.

Another new for this meet will be the involvement of ATN Bangla. The satellite television channel will telecast most of the matches, though not live.

The organisers are planning a 16-team knockout affair, with seven-eight of them from Calcutta. “Because of budget constraints, we can’t invite teams from south or north,” Bhutia explained. So far, though, they have the confirmation of only defending champions Mohun Bagan and Calcutta Port Trust. Mumbai’s Air India, Bangladesh’s Arambagh and Gorkha Brigade are the other outstation sides to have given their consent.

East Bengal, who have skipped the meet for the past few years, will be approached. So will Bhratri Sangha, Tollygunge Agragami and Mohammedan Sporting.

An East Bengal official said the club’s participation will depend on the availability of players at that time, because “the meet clashes with the Afro-Asian Games and quite a few players will be away on national duty.”

ESPN will telecast Super Division League and Shield matches from the third week of September. Half-hour capsules will be shown every alternate Sunday.

Bagan recruit Nigerian

Federation Cup champions Mohun Bagan have already started preparing for their assault on the IFA Shield and the next National League. They have just recruited a Nigerian, Ezeh Colly Barnes, and are tom-tomming the ‘catch’. Only, the 6 feet 2˝ inch player, who was once with Parramata FC in Sydney is now coming over from Abahani Krira Chakra in Dhaka. Enough reason to reserve comment.    

Calcutta, Sept. 4: 
Kidderpore whipped West Bengal Police 3-0 in a CFL first division group A match at Howrah Stadium today. Indrajit Sil got a brace, Dipak Mondal completed the tally.

In group B action, Bally Protiva rode a Basudeb Santra strike to full points over Barisha SC at the Mohammedan Sporting ground.

The afternoon’s heavy shower washed out matches at the Mohun Bagan (Sonali Shibir versus Railway FC in group A) and East Bengal (Md. AC versus Garalgacha) grounds.

Third division relegation play-off and fourth division championship play-off matches were also non-starters at other the Maidan grounds.

Mondal ‘identified’

Assistant referee Naba Kumar Das, who was on the lines in the violence-marred Super Division match between Mohammedan Sporting and George Telegraph, has identified George’s Biman Mondal as the one to have heckled the match officials while protesting a disputed goal.

“I could only identify Biman Mondal,” Das said while deposing to the IFA league sub-committee today.

The four George players named in referee Partha Rout Roy’s report — Biman, Goutam Naha, Supratik Aind and Raju Guha Thakurta — also appeared before IFA officials today and pleaded innocence.

Easy for CSA

Calcutta Sports Association (CSA) thrashed Vidyasagar Swimming & Coaching Centre 15-0 in Kidderpore SC’s South West Rotary waterpolo meet today. Sribas Sardar scored five goals.

Kamath remembered

Ashok Kamath, former sports editor of The Telegraph, was remembered at a condolence meeting of the Calcutta Sports Journalists’ Club today. Members of the club paid tributes to Kamath who passed away in Delhi Sunday.    

Calcutta, Sept. 4: 
The biggest event on the Indian PGA Tour, the Honda-Siel championship, has been elevated to the Asian PGA Tour as a specially sanctioned event.

The November 1-4 meet, at the Delhi Golf Club, now has a prize purse of $ 200,000, according to information reaching here. Slated

The meet will see 80 regulars from the Asian Tour besides top Indian players. The field will include the current leader on the Asian Order of Merit, Charlie Wi of Korea; winner of the Wills Indian Open, Thongchai Jaidee (Thailand); winner of the Alcatel Singapore Open, Thaworn Wiratchant (Thailand); India’s only golfer to hold four cards on different Tours, Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal, Jyoti Randhawa and others.

Inter-school quiz

An inter-school sports quiz will be organised by the National Gems Higher Secondary School at Rabindra Sadan Thursday. Sourav Ganguly will be chief guest. Schools from the city, Howrah and Asansol will take part.    

Calcutta, Sept. 4: 
Thanks, once again, to the poor two-runner field in the Hovercraft Cup, an event for the highest class horses, it is the eight-horse strong Douetil Memorial Cup, for horses in Class III, that takes the centre-spot in tomorrow’s six-event race-card. Actress, Grand Lodge and Queen’s Logic all three stake a strong claim for the race over 1,400m. Queen’s Logic, however, returns to the track after nearly seven weeks thus the Bharath Singh-trained filly may need the run. Grand Lodge, on the other hand, had finished way ahead of Actress in the Independence Cup, over an identical trip when ridden by Ganesh Upadhya. Now that Mark Reuben has been pressed into service, the Javed Khan-trained Tecorno-Nyra five-year-old gelding may do the trick against his younger rival.

Race-card and selections

1. Hovercraft Cup 1,800m (Cl I; Cl II eligible, Rt. 66-94) 1.50 pm: Arendal 60 Amil 2; Anolini 57.5 C. Alford 1.
1. Arendal (1)

2. Verge Handicap 1,200m (Cl V, 5 -y-o & over Rt. 18 & below) 2.30 pm: Amistad 60 Islam 2; Armila 59.5 Locke 5; Heaven’s Blessing 58 Shanker 7; Double Dancer 57 F. Khan 3; Stella Blue 57 Rutherford 4; Piece of Cake 56 Upadhya 1; Consul’s Secret 54 Kujur 6; Magic Ring 48 Brij S. 8.

1. Double Dancer (4) 2. Stella Blue (5) 3. Heaven’s Blessing (3)

3. Kinkajou Handicap 1,200m (Cl IV, Rt. 22-50) 3 pm: Aherlow 61 C. Alford 2; Iron Warrior 54.5 Dalpat 1; Crest Star 52 Yasin 3; Albright 51.5 Amil 4.

1. Albright (4) 2. Aherlow (1) 3. Iron Warrior (2)

4. Douetil Memorial Cup 1,400m: (Cl III, Rt. 44-72) 3.35 pm: Giorgio 60 Upadhya 8; Carbon Copy 58.5 Amil 4; Harry The Horse 58.5 F. Khan 1; Actress 57 C. Alford 7; Grand Lodge 55 M. Reuben 5; Double Bull 52 Dalpat 3; Queen’s Logic 51 Rabani 2; High Life 48 M. Bhagwat 6.

1. Grand Lodge (5) 2. Actress (4) 3. Queen’s Logic (7)

5. Look Round Handicap 2,000m (Cl V, Rt. 00-28) 4.05 pm: Nearco Prince 61 Rabani 4; Alvernia 56 Maseyk 6; Keep The Faith 53.5 Kujur 2; Aventura 51 Islam 1; Sunset Down 49 Brij S. 5 Ghunghat 47 Yasin 3.

1. Keep The Faith (3) 2. Alvernia (2) 3. Nearco Prince (1)

6. Casbah Handicap 1,100m (Cl IV, Rt. 22-50) 4.40 pm: Raaz 60 Upadhya 4; Wandering Warrior 59 C. Alford 3; Countach 57.5 Rutherford 6; Storm Trooper 56 A. P. Singh 2; Floral Path 52 Shanker 8; Global Harmony 50.5 Amil 7; Software 50.5 M. Reuben 1; Tsaynen Blue 50.5 Som S. 5.

1. Software (7) 2. Wandering Warrior (2) 3. Global Harmony (6)

Day’s Best: Software

Double: Albright & Grand Lodge

Calcutta, Sept. 4: 
Ascoril and Cool Quest were impressive from among the following horses worked today:

Outer sand track

1,600m: Ascoril (C. Alford) in 2-1s; (400m) 31s. Easy. Allosaki (Surender) in 2-7; (400m) 31s. Freedom Warrior (C. Alford) in 2-2s; (400m) 31s.

1,000m: Cool Quest (Som S.) in 1-14s; (400m) 27s. Good.

800m: Victory Waltz (Brij S.) in 1-2s; (400m) 32s.

Sand track

800m: Tajik (Rutherford) in 53s; (400m) 24s. Moved well. Solo Act (Rutherford) in 53s; (400m) 26s. Fit. Harry The Horse (F. Khan) in 1-1s; (400m) 30s. Just Kidding (P. Alford) and Royal Ruler (Rutherford) in 54s; (400m) 26s. They were level.

600m: Heaven’s Blessing (Shanker) in 39s; (400m) 24s. Fit.

On Monday, outer sand track

800m: Countach (M. Bhagwat) in 58s; (400m) 27s.

Sand track

800m: Abandoned (Shanker) in 1-3s; (400m) 31s. Floral Path (G. Singh) in 57s; (400m) 27s.

On Sunday, outer sand track

800m: Arendal (Rb) in 57s; (400m) 27s. Moved well. Alumina (C. Alford) in 55s; (400m) 26s. Good. Aherlow (C. Alford) and Albright (Rb) in 57s; (400m) 29s. Former was a length better. Actress (C. Alford) in 55s; (400m) 28s. Fit.    

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