BCCI sets Monday deadline for ECB
Fresh squad sans players of Big Two
Coach looks to lift morale
Jeev finishes joint sixth
Randhawa, Atwal make second stage

Calcutta, Oct. 29: 
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Jagmohan Dalmiya today set a deadline to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to confirm their forthcoming tour of India by Monday.

“The ECB has maintained that the tour is on but the confirmation hasn’t yet come through. There are various logistic and administrative arrangements that have to be finalised once they confirm. I have asked the ECB to finalise their squad and let the BCCI know by Monday,” Dalmiya said at a press conference this evening.

“Monday is the deadline and, if needed, can be extended by a day or two. But a final decision should be drawn on whether the tour is on or not because it sends the wrong signals to other countries,” the BCCI president added. “If they fail to announce the squad, an emergent meeting of the BCCI may have to be convened.”

The BCCI has already got the necessary clearance from the home and external affairs ministry of the central government regarding the security and political aspects of the tour and it has been conveyed to the ECB.

Dalmiya informed that ECB officials will visit India to reassure players about the security arrangements. Officials from the ECB and the British High Commission will also meet Dalmiya in the city on Thursday in this regard.

Dalmiya said the meeting was arranged after ECB requested if they could send some officials to have a first hand idea of the prevailing situation in India and the security measures to be taken for the visiting team.

“As far as the Indian Board is concerned, the tour is on. The final clearance by the Indian government is the last word,” Dalmiya maintained.

Wright, Leipus reply

Dalmiya said that he had received replies from Indian coach John Wright and physio Andrew Leipus regarding the team’s dip in performance after the home series versus Australia and the injuries to players, respectively. The Board president had sought explanations from them after assuming charge early this month.

“There have been quite a few observations and I will discuss them with the players and the selectors after the South Africa tour,” Dalmiya said. He, however, declined to reveal the details.

Sandhu coach

Balwinder Singh Sandhu will be the Indian coach for the junior World Cup in New Zealand from January 19. Arjun Rana has been named physical trainer.

Meanwhile, Dilip Vengsarkar will be the chairman of the Talent Resource Development Officers committee of the NCA. He has been appointed on a long-term basis and the committee has been set up to spot and nurture talents.

Vengsarkar will also accompany the squad to the junior World Cup as consultant.

The C.K. Nayudu Trophy will be held in Mumbai from the third week of November to the first week of December. Twenty five probables will be shortlisted on December 4 for the World Cup. A conditioning camp will be held in Bangalore from December 8-26 and the final squad will be named on December 26. The squad will leave early January.


Calcutta, Oct. 29: 
In a bid to salvage some prestige, the Indian Football Association (IFA) today spurned Mohun Bagan’s late offer to release players for Santosh Trophy and named a fresh list of probables without any representation from the local National League outfits.

This is unprecedented and none could recall whether the 29-time champions Bengal have ever played the Santosh Trophy sans Mohun Bagan and East Bengal players.

Just three of those named earlier were present at what was supposed to be the first day of training at Mohammedan Sporting ground this morning. Even coach Subhas Bhowmick didn’t turn up and resigned in the afternoon, which prompted the IFA to distribute responsibility between Shabbir Ali and Prasanta Banerjee.

Like their Mohun Bagan counterparts, East Bengal and Tollygunge Agragami players stayed away from the first day of camp but unlike Mohun Bagan, didn’t show late generosity.

IFA officials, who called an emergency meeting during what is still the puja vacation period, said they were not constitutionally empowered to punish players for not attending camps. They said the governing body will meet soon to discuss whether it’s possible to amend constitution and include a suitable clause.

IFA joint-secretary K.D. Pal announced the three National League teams were excused because they wanted to concentrate on the premier tournament of the country. To that end, Mohun Bagan are leaving for the Sikkim Governor’s Gold Cup, with East Bengal and Tollygunge scheduled to travel to Cooch Behar for the All Airlines meet.

But why didn’t the IFA react immediately after the clubs said they wouldn’t release players? “Our office was closed during the Pujas,” was the explanation.

Mohun Bagan called a press conference later to rub the egg off their face and criticised activities of the state parent body in not-so-pleasant terms. “It’s a worthless body reeking of incompetence,” said a senior club official. “We offered help when all others refused.”

He went on to add the IFA was a “spineless body” or else, it should have taken action against those not releasing players, including Mohun Bagan. This was followed by an appeal to the influential clubs to join hands with Mohun Bagan and uproot the evil from Bengal football!

Three days of practice

The 29 probables named today will start training from Wednesday and leave for Mumbai Saturday. The final squad will be picked Friday. Most of the players are from Bhratri Sangha and Port Trust, coached by Shabbir and Prasanta, respectively. Bhratri, incidentally, leave for Sikkim tomorrow without the coach and the players called.

Super Division uncertainty

The fresh list of probables includes eight players from teams fighting to avoid relegation from the Super Division. The relegation-leg schedule was disrupted earlier and new dates were announced after a gap of more than a month. These matches are scheduled to be over by the end of November.

Following today’s developments, IFA officials said the relegation leg may be pushed back further if the teams are handicapped with their players representing Bengal.

Mohammedan Sporting, struggling to stay in Super Division, have four in the 29 and will not be excited by the prospect of missing them in their battle for survival.


Goalkeepers: Imran Khan (Md. Sporting), Arindam Ghosh (FCI), Sandip Guha (CPT), Abhijit Mondal (Bhratri Sangha).

Defenders: Irfaan Ali (Md. Sporting), Arun Malhotra (Bhratri), Rabi Karmakar (CPT), Chanchal Bhattacharya (SAIL), Madhusudan Majumdar (CPT), Nilanjan Guha (Bhratri), Babun Kar (Bhratri), Shib Shankar Chowdhury (CPT), Momocha Singh (Bhratri), Srimanta Das (CPT).

Midfielders: Gourab Dutta (CPT), Sujay Dutta (FCI), Saikat Mondal (FCI), Dipankar Biswas (Bhratri), Jayanta Roy (WB Police).

Forwards: Sandip Ghosh (CPT), Barun Saha (Police AC), Amjad Hussain (Md. Sporting), Benoy Saha (E. Rly), Laltu Das (Peerless), Arup Sarkar (Bhratri), Amar Pyne (CPT), Braja Gopal Jana (FCI), Mohammed Rafiq (Md. Sporting), Pradip Indu (CPT).

Coaches: Shabbir Ali and Prasanta Banerjee.

Manager: Krishnendu Banerjee.


Calcutta, Oct. 29: 
Lifting the morale of the Mohammedan Sporting players is new coach Chibuzor Nwakanma’s priority No. 1. He took over earlier this month from Chandu Roy Chowdhury the reins of the century-old club struggling to avoid relegation from Super Division.

For the Nigerian, a former player of the club, this is a big challenge and baptism by fire, as he has never had any coaching assignment so far.

“Nobody goes to the warfront to lose, and I’m no different,” said Chibuzor after practice this morning.

“The difference between good and not-so-good players here is minimal. Those with superior mental strength always have the edge.” he explained.

Having said that, he admitted his players are not ideally placed in this regard. “I’m talking to them, this is a major area of my work. We also need a stopper among many other things.”

Club officials said two players from Bangladesh are expected shortly and the club is also trying to take some others on lien.

Mohammedan Sporting, having lost their only relegation-leg match so far, are scheduled to meet SAIL on November 9. Their remaining matches are against FCI (November 17) and BNR (November 20). All dates may change if all four of their players, named by the IFA in the probables list, make the Santosh Trophy squad.


Calcutta, Oct. 29: 
Superstar Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh matched his best finish in the 2001 season of the European PGA Tour when he shot a seven-under 64 on the final day to finish tied for sixth place in the 1.4 million Euro prize money Telefonica Open de Madrid, which concluded at Club de Campo, yesterday.

At the 6957-yard, par-71 course, the Indian ace tallied 16-under 268 for the tournament despite starting with a one-over 72 that left him tied for the 87th place and struggling to make the cut after the opening day, according to information received here.

However, the Hero Honda-sponsored pro went from strength to strength after that. A four-under 67 on day two lifted him to tied 49th place and he easily made it to the weekend rounds with a two-day tally of three-under 137. The cut fell at one-under 139.

Jeev then blitzed the course on the third and the final day. On Saturday, the Chandigarh pro returned a bogey-free card of six-under 65 during which he birdied all the three par-5s of the course. On the final day, Jeev was paired with Irish superstar Padraig Harrington and completely overshadowed his more illustrious partner with six birdies and an eagle as against two bogeys.

Jeev made a birdie on the par-4 second, but that was nullified by his first bogey on the very next hole. Thereafter, he eagled the 518-yard, par-5 fourth and birdied the ninth and 10th to go four-under.

The par-4 13th proved to be unlucky for the 30-year-old as he made his second and last bogey there, but romped home in style with birdies on the 14th, 15th and 17th. The tied-sixth finish matched his previous best on the European Tour this season.


Calcutta, Oct. 29: 
Jyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal have made it to the second stage of the US PGA Tour qualifiers with impressive performances at different competitions.

Randhawa was tied for third place at the Martin Downs Country Club in Florida, while Atwal finished joint eighth in National Golf Club in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

The first stage of the US PGA Tour qualifiers was played over 13 different courses across the US and 21 from each made it to the second.

Randhawa finished with an excellent 10-under 278 with scores of 64, 71, 69 and 74 on the four days. Atwal had scores of 73, 70, 71 and 73 for an aggregate of one-under 287.


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