Two minutes to retain Sourav
Seriki goals sink Tolly
Rajasthan go down to Sonali Shibir
SAI school in final
Mukesh Kumar still in lead
Mysore Races/Hope And Faith looks outstanding
Mysore Racing/ Allabreva posts upset victory
Track Trials/ Kargil Soldier shines

Calcutta, Sept. 6: 
Informally, the decision to retain Sourav Ganguly as India captain was taken yesterday itself (reported in these columns today). Retaining him, formally, therefore only took a couple of minutes in Mumbai this morning.

More than any change in the five selectors’ line of thinking, the captain’s removal would surely have required an okay from the Board’s top brass, specifically the president, Dr A.C.Muthiah.

Despite pressure from trusted associate Raj Singh Dungarpur, Dr Muthiah kept himself out of the picture. It’s possible the president’s row with East strongman Jagmohan Dalmiya, for whom Sourav’s removal would have been the proverbial last straw, influenced his decision to ignore Dungarpur.

In any case, to be fair to Dr Muthiah, he hasn’t been known to interfere in the selectors’ work.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, the pro-status quo views of the top brass were quickly “conveyed” down-the-line. And, while nobody may confirm, Sourav is understood to have received a call as early as yesterday, asking him to “prepare” for tomorrow’s selection meeting, in Mumbai.

The captain (and coach John Wright) will be present when the 15-strong squad for the first-half of the South Africa tour (October 5-26 tri-series), is picked.

Incidentally, till just the other day, nobody was quite sure how chief selector Chandu Borde — who doesn’t exactly share a great rapport with Sourav — would behave. The ‘misgivings’ cleared when Borde, during a transit halt in Chennai (en route to Pune from Colombo), spoke to co-selector T.A.Sekar and indicated he will go along with retaining Sourav.

At least two of the other selectors (Madanlal and Ashok Malhotra) were consistent in not wanting a change. Perhaps, even Sanjay Jagdale, the most inexperienced of the quintet.

Obviously, Sourav’s Man-of-the-Match award winning unbeaten 98 in Kandy came in very handy. What also worked in his favour is that five first XI players weren’t available for almost the entire Sri Lanka series.

[For the record, this is what Borde said in Mumbai this afternoon: “I think Sourav did a pretty good job in Lanka with a young side… We felt we should continue with him on the tough tour of South Africa…”]

Of course, Sourav’s detractors could still argue that the extremely demanding South Africa tour will actually seal his fate but, then, they are being terribly unkind. It’s reasonable to say Sourav deserved to keep the job.

That Sourav is captain till just South Africa, suggests he is (again) on trial. However, as things stand, the present selection committee couldn’t have retained him beyond that. The committee itself is likely to see two changes during the Board’s AGM, in Chennai, later this month.

Speaking exclusively, Sourav insisted he had been “confident” of keeping the captaincy. He added: “No matter what people said and wrote, I stayed focussed… I do realise, though, that the criticism may always be there… In the last 18 months or so, I’ve grown tougher. In time, mentally, I should be even stronger.”

Sourav, by the way, had another day of multiple commitments --- a trip to the British Deputy High Commission for visas for his parents, a commercial shoot… It ended with a quiet dinner at his in-laws’ place.

Tri-series squad

Meanwhile, wicketkeeper Samir Dighe is under considerable pressure to retain his place. Thanks to his being inconsistent, there’s an outside chance of veteran Nayan Mongia being recalled. In the frame, too, is Vikram Rathore.

Apparently, neither Deep Dasgupta nor Ajay Ratra, rookies both, will come into contention as the tour calls for experienced hands.

While Shiv Sundar Das stands a good chance of making the XV, Hemang Badani faces the axe. Equations could change if V.V.S. Laxman, who will be fit by “month-end,” that is after the squad’s September 24 departure, is selected for the second-half (three-Test series, commencing November 3).

The big guns, who are now fit, will return, as also ODI specialists Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Reetinder Singh Sodhi.

A word of advice for Sourav: He shouldn’t stick his neck out for Ajit Agarkar.


Calcutta, Sept. 6: 

There’s no stopping the Mohun Bagan juggernaut.

Fresh from the Federation Cup conquest in Chennai, Subrata Bhattacharya’s men today resumed their CFL Super Division campaign from where they had left off three weeks ago. And the team to suffer at the Salt Lake Stadium was their closest rivals, Tollygunge Agragami.

Jose Ramirez Barreto set up both goals with sublime touches in the first half. Abdulateef Seriki accepted both chances, finishing off the moves with great alacrity.

Mohun Bagan thus topped the first phase with an all-win record. They kick off their Super Five championship leg campaign with a match against Bhratri Sangha Monday.

Tollygunge Agragami, who suffered their first defeat today, will take second spot even if they lose their final first-phase game against East Bengal Sunday at Kishore Bharati Stadium.

Going into today’s exhibition game sans three of their regulars — Rishi Kapoor, Hussain Mustafi and Rennedy Singh — Mohun Bagan still took over the reins right from the kick-off. A booming Barreto left-footer off a Basudeb Mondal feed gained too much elevation. Soon after, Amar Ganguly failed to get a touch to a Dulal Biswas centre from the right.

Then Barreto took over and produced some moments of pure magic. In the ninth minute, the skilful Brazilian feigned past a couple of defenders only to shoot straight at ’keeper Sandip Nandy. Seven minutes later, Barreto found himself in the middle of a crowd but fooled the defence with a flicked aerial through. Seriki, who seems to understand the Brazilian better than most of his teammates, followed the ball and pushed it past Nandy.

A minute before half-time, Barreto received a ball in the middle of the pitch and went wide with a sudden burst of speed. He released the ball for R.C. Prakash who sent in a low centre for Seriki. The big Nigerian did well to bend and head the ball home.

Mohun Bagan’s first-half domination was as much a result of their enterprise as of their opponents’ lack of it. Adopting ultra-defensive tactics against a well-oiled unit like Mohun Bagan can often be counter-productive and that is exactly what happened to Amal Dutta’s team today.

With the likes of Sashthi Duley, Khemtang Paite and Sandip Das loathe to think and act positive, Moses Owira and Akeem Abolanle were left wandering aimlessly in the enemy zone. Duley was in the thick of action on the two occasions that Tollygunge threatened the Mohun Bagan defence in the first 45 minutes.

In the 33rd minute, a measured Akeem cross had Duley stabbing the ball into Bivash Ghosh’s lap. Two minutes later, Duley’s menacing left-footer was palmed away to safety by the goalkeeper.

As Mohun Bagan slowed down the pace after the breather, Tollygunge showed the urgency to push more men up front. It was Amitava Chanda, in the unfamiliar role of an attacking medio, who made some dangerous runs and set up some half-chances. The best one came again to Duley, who sped past Palash Ghosh only to hit the ball right into Bivash.

Mohun Bagan did precious little in this session, put off by some poor decisions by referee Gopinath Pyne. Barreto, at the receiving end of one such, lost his cool and was shown the yellow card. He will miss the next match.


MOHUN BAGAN: Bivash Ghosh; Dulal Biswas, Amauri da Silva, Palash Ghosh, Lolendra Singh; James Singh, Basudeb Mondal (Bungo Singh, 81), Debjit Ghosh; Abdulateef Seriki, Amar Ganguly (R.C. Prakash, 36; Ajay Singh, 77), Jose Ramirez Barreto.

TOLLYGUNGE AGRAGAMI: Sandip Nandy; Reazul Mustafa, Partha Sarathi Dey, Subhashish Roy Chowdhury, Amitava Chanda; Khemtang Paite, Sashthi Duley, Srikrishna Ghosh (Arjan Ali, 37; Biswanath Mondal, 46), Sandip Das; Akeem Abolanle, Moses Owira (Nazimul Haque, 68).

Referee: Gopinath Pyne.


Calcutta, Sept. 6: 
Sonali Shibir beat Rajasthan 2-0 in a CFL first division group A match at Mohun Bagan ground today. Raju Ghosh and Sujoy Santra scorerd.

West Bengal Police and Kalighat shared two goals at Kishore Bharati Stadium, while Howrah Union and Kidderpore played goalless at the East Bengal ground.

Mouri SC promoted

Mouri Sporting Club will feature in the second division league next season. They gained promotion today after topping division III with a 1-0 win over YMCA Chowringhee in the championship play-off clash.

The third division relegation issue was also decided today, with Garden Reach AC and Rashbehari ABM going down to Division IV.

Batore SC and RHAC were the teams to survive, winning their respective second leg relegation play-off matches 1-0 and 3-1, for aggregate scores of 3-1 and 4-1, respectively.

Inquiry inconclusive

The IFA discplinary committee’s one-on-one with George Telegraph coach Raghu Nandy and official Bachchu Gupta — vis-à-vis their role in the ‘raid’ of the CRA tent on July 28 — was inconclusive today.

Nandy and Gupta, it was learnt, provided contradictory versions of the incident which happened after the Mohmmedan Sporting versus George Telegraph match in which the latter protested a goal against them and heckled the referee and his assistants.

Both have been asked to depose again on September 14 when CRA’s Tarak Sen, Bikash Mukherjee and Sajal Bose have also been called.


Calcutta, Sept. 6: 
The Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) Special Area Games School, Namchi, will clash with Kumudini Homes, Kalimpong, in the Eveready Cup inter-school football tournament final in Namchi, Sikkim, tomorrow. According to information received here, the SAI school beat St Augustine, Kalimpong, and Kumudini Homes beat Namchi Public School in today’s semi-finals.

ILSS-CSA final

Indian Life Saving Society (ILSS) and Calcutta Sports Association (CSA) won their final league matches to qualify for the final of the South West Rotary waterpolo meet today. ILSS routed Kidderpore Swimming Club 17-1, with six goals from Pronab Das and five from Hira Pan. CSA beat YMCA 6-1, Dipankar Kotal scoring three.    

Calcutta, Sept. 6: 
Mukesh Kumar continued to lead with a mid-way tally of nine-under 135 at the TNGF Open in Chennai.

According to information received here today, overnight second Sanjay Kumar slashed Mukesh’s four-stroke lead to two. He was sharing the second spot with Rafiq Ali at seven-under 137. S.S.P. Chowrasia was fourth at 138 and Digvijay Singh fifth with 139.

The cut was applied at five-over 149 with 55 pros and five amateurs making it. Defending champion Rohtas Singh squeezed in.


Mysore Sept. 6: 
Trainer Z. Darashah’s ward Hope And Faith, who easily had the measure of her 40 and above rivals, over a mile in first start here, looks outstanding in the field of nine three-year-old fillies vying for the 1,600m Karnataka Racehorse Owners’ Association Mysore 1000 Guineas, the first classic of the season and tomorrow’s main attraction. K. P. Appu partners the Broto-Maman Zimbie daughter.


2.15 pm: Skipping Away 1. High Zoom 2. River Bed 3.
2.45 pm: Tapatio 1. Argyle Gold 2. Dream Supreme 3.
3.15 pm: Pristine Beauty 1. Memorable Occasion 2. Little Genny 3.
3.45 pm: Aide de Memoire 1. Lali 2. Arabella 3.
4.15 pm: Hope And Faith 1. Fairy Winter 2. My Treasure 3.
4.45 pm: Cruising Away 1. Financer 2. Bank of Promise 3.
5.15 pm: Bountiful Star 1. Star Class 2. Thrill of Success 3.

Day’s Best: Hope And Faith

Double: Aide de Memoire & Bountiful Star

Mysore Sept. 6: 
Trained by C. A. Kuts Allabreva posted an upset victory in the 1,200m H. H. Sri Chamaraja Wadiyar Memorial Gold Cup in Mysore on Thursday. Shobhan Babu partnered the Excalibur’s Lake-Melodrama filly.


(With inter-state dividends)

1.. Squanderer Plate, Div-II 1,400m: (2-10-6) Franco Leone (Shobhan) 1; Formal Gold 2; Seat of The Master 3. Won by: SH; 2-1/2; (1-29.1). Tote: Win Rs 45; Place: 18; 38; 17; Quinella: 490; Tanala: 5,217. Fav: Seat of The Master (6). (Note: Originally third, Rusticana was disqualified following an objection lodged by the rider of Seat of The Master).

2. Squanderer Plate, Div-I 1,400m: (8-10-9) Aegis (Shakti) 1; Silver Falcon 2; Fingers Crossed 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 2-1/4; (1-28.4). Tote: Win Rs 28; Place: 13; 20; 19; Quinella: 96; Tanala: 498. Fav: Aegis (8).

3. Palace Plate 1,400m: (9-5-7) Narvar (Bhagwat) 1; National Star 2; Sand Lord 3. Won by: 2-3/4; 5-3/4; (1-27.7). Tote: Win Rs 45; Place: 17; 16; 21; Quinella: 71; Tanala: 498. Fav: Narvar (9).

4. Datta Jewellers Gold Cup 1,200m: (8-10-11) Shathabisha (Rajesh) 1; Lady Gibraltar 2; Common Wealth 3. Won by: 5; 1-1/4; (1-13.3). Tote: Win Rs 35; Place: 14; 16; 53; Quinella: 69; Tanala: 1,211. Fav: Shathabisha (8).

5. H. H. Sri Chamaraja Wadiyar Memorial Gold Cup 1,200m: (8-6-4) Allabreva (Shobhan) 1; Yewall 2; Joe The Pro 3. Won by: SH; 2; (1-12.5). Tote: Win Rs 116; Place: 27; 16; 23; Quinella: 167; Tanala: 2,059. Fav: Soviet Song (3).

6. Balagunda Estate Gold Trophy 1,400m: (12-1-10) Patriotic (P. Krishna) 1; Befief 2; Saturn Star 3. Won by: 3/4; 3/4; (1-26). Tote: Win Rs 358; Place: 43; 22; 17; Quinella: 854; Tanala: 11,034. Fav: Far Excellence (3).

7. Topmsot Plate 1,200m: (11-5-3) Super Green (Surjeet) 1; Star Wings 2; Erudition 3. Not run: Royal Caribbean (8) & Prestigious Baby (9). Won by: 6; 2-1/4; (1-13.3). Tote: Win Rs 19; Place: 11; 13; 41; Quinella: 25; Tanala: 229. Fav: Super Green (11).

Jackpot: Rs 83,950 (Carried over to Friday).

Treble: (i) Rs 378; (ii) Rs 4,852.

Calcutta, Sept. 6: 
Kargil Soldier was impressive from among the following horses exercised this morning:

Outer sand track

1,200m: Aldridge (C. Alford) and Automatic (Amil) in 1-34s; (400m) 32s. They were level. Victory Waltz (C. Alford) and Artisia (Rb) in 1-32s; (400m) 31s.

Monsoon track

800m: Ace of Spades (Kujur) in 58s; (400m) 24s. Handy. Brave Show (Rb) in 1-1s; (400m) 28s. Kargil Soldier (K. Kumar) in 54s; (400m) 25s. Fit. Glass Slipper (F. Khan) in 53s; (400m) 26s. Moved nicely.

Sand track

800m: On The Bit (F. Khan) in 56s; (400m) 26s. Fit. Ispahan (Rutherford) in 57s; (400m) 27s. As A Rule (Som S.) in 58s; (400m) 31s. Scavenger’s Son (Rb) in 1-0s; (400m) 28s. Added Asset (Kujur) in 58s; (400m) 27s. Unextended. Ashbury (B. Gurang) in 1-1s; (400m) 31s.

600m: Highland Flame (Kujur) in 42s; (400m) 26s. Sadaf (Rb) in 43s; (400m) 27s.    


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