EB look for a morale-booster
Lata, Ragini have it easy
Deep, Devang in squad
EB pile up 372/6
Calcutta Races/Easy win for Alcalde in Army Cup

Calcutta, Dec. 26: 
It will be a test of character for the reigning champions tomorrow. East Bengal need to pull up their socks and garner all three points versus JCT, Phagwara, if they are to stride tall in the current National Football League. That is the strong message coach Manoranjan Bhattacharya seemed to have put across to his wards.

After practice today he lamented the unavailability tomorrow of Dipak Mondal and Jo Paul Ancheri. Mondal hurt his leg in the derby match versus Mohun Bagan (which East Bengal lost), and Ancheri has yet to fully recover from the injury he suffered during the East Bengal-Palmeiras IFA Shield final match fracas. It is highly unlikely than Mondal will be able to play tomorrow.

Not that the coach said anything, but his body language did indicate that the generally injury-prone Ancheri’s slow recovery has not been seen in good light. There is this school of thought in the club that Ancheri has not taken the recuperation schedule seriously and hence his recovery has been delayed.

JCT have not really acquitted themselves well this year, having earned two points from their three encounters so far. They lost their first match 1-2 to Churchill Brothers, before drawing with FC Kochin 1-1. Then, of course, they did manage to regroup and hold a strong Salgaocar goalless.

East Bengal started well, beating Punjab Police 3-1, but then seemed to run out of steam, losing to Mohun Bagan off a Jose Ramirez Barreto goal. That setback has haunted the team no end. When the team was held goalless by a nondescript Mahindra in Mumbai, it was deep depression.

That was the challenge that the coach faced in trying to rebuild the team’s morale for the match tomorrow that could prove rather crucial in the long run. Bhattacharya said: “We need all of those points tomorrow for our players to get into the right mental makeup. I have already tried to rectify the problems in the midfield and defence that worried us in our match versus Mahindra. I believe those changes will hold up well tomorrow.

The attack line can find those loopholes, he feels, and Dipendu Biswas and Omolaja Olalekan have been “shaping up well in practice.” Bijen Singh is on the wait-list, too.

JCT are no pushovers, and despite the external show of confidence, creased brows abound in the East Bengal camp. “It has not been a good start to the League, I know that,” said Bhattacharya. “And I believe it is a bit of a trouble, too, that JCT are not overtly dependent on star-value gamesmanship.” That pushes the entire JCT team to the attack line.

The Punjab side — apart from the fact that Bengal teams have always had trouble versus Punjab outfits — has the likes of Stephen Abarowei and Hardeep Gill in the attack line. There is Hardeep Sanga and Hardeep Saini backing up, and all are strong, fast. “I keep in mind these players, and take care, but the most important part of the JCT side is its teamwork,” said Bhattacharya.

To that end, the defence has been reworked well. The early chinks have been ironed out, says Bhattacharya — though he maintains that he is still to get his combination for the season right. Even if Dipak Mondal is not around, Suley Musah (the great overlapper) and Jackson Egygopong are the strong people among the back four. Considering that Punjab teams are somewhat physical in their approach, this setup could turn out to b strong enough.

Bhattacharya also believes that he has been using striker I.M. Vijayan rightly in the midfield. “I think I have made no error in doing that, and I expect to be able to field Vijayan in that position tomorrow as well,” the coach said. Not that Vijayan has been performing anywhere near to his glory days, but he is the man who can always make those half-chances click, and a clever through could be useful to the attack line.

The match also gains importance in the view of the fact that arch rivals and title-contenders Mohun Bagan will be playing HAL in Bangalore tomorrow. HAL, the rookies, have been performing anything like rookies, but Mohun Bagan’s ability to push through defence lines could push the current league leaders to a rather advantageous position early in the league.


Calcutta, Dec. 26: 
Girls’ under-18 top seed Lata Assudani today won an easy second round match in the Adhip Mukerjea junior tennis met at the Jaidip Mukerjea Tennis Academy. She beat Devanshi Rajgaria 6-1, 6-3. Second seed Ragini Vimal, though had a better passage, beating Micah Muhury without conceding a single game.


Girls U-18: Lata Assudani, Varsha Dutta, Reenu jayakumar, Priyanka parekh, Deepa Chakraborty, Ragini Vimal. Girls U-16: Renu Jayakumar, Varsha Dutta, Karina Ahuja, Neha Rana, Deepa Chakraborty, Devanshi Rajgaria, Anukriti Prasad. Boys U-18: Rewanth Dutta, Jitin Bishnoi, Farid Alam, Rupesh Roy. Boys U-16: Momin Ali, Sabyasachi Bose, Rupesh Roy.

Junior golf

Sri Lanka’s Amrit J. de Soysa and Delhi’s Karan Vasudeva today brought in six over 78 cards to lead the first round in East India junior and sub-junior meet at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club. Chitrajit Kalra followed at 79, with five following at 81.

The meet has attracted 98 entries from across the country and from Sri Lanka.

Under-16 soccer

Chaitali Sangha beat Central Calcutta District Sports Association 3-1 in their under-16 inter-coaching camp football meet match at the Rabindra Sarobar stadium today.


Calcutta, Dec. 26: 
As expected, Deep Dasgupta and Devang Gandhi were included in the Bengal squad for their Ranji Trophy tie versus Bihar in Jamshedpur from Saturday.

This will be the first Ranji match for both Deep and Devang. While Deep was doing natio nal duty, Devang was out with an injured back.

Humza Ferozie and Soumen Singh were dropped from the squad that did duty against Tripura in Agartala.

Bengal have won both their matches outright.


Rohan Gavaskar (captain), Arindam Das, Nikhil Haldipur, Subhomoy Das, Devang Gandhi, Saikat Mukherjee, Sanjib Sanyal, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Deep Dasgupta, Utpal Chatterjee, Sourashish Lahiri, Ranadeb Bose, Sabbir Ali, Subhradeep Ganguly.


EB PILE UP 372/6 
Calcutta, Dec. 26: 
East Bengal today chalked up a sizeable 372 for six off 74 overs in their CAB senior division league match versus Mohanlal Club at the East Calcutta ground. The scored was boosted, in the main, by centuries from Avijit Ganguly (100) and Manabendra Yadav (100).

Nikhil Haldipur contributed 48, while the most successful bowler for Mohanlal Club was Tapas paul who scalped three for 112.

Till draw of stumps Mohanlal had scored 24 for one.

There were other centuries scored today. Sailendra Tewari and Sourav Bhalla hit 125 and an unbeaten 143, respectively, as Ballygunge United posted 438 for six versus High Court, while Arijit Basu’s 111 and Arindam Das’ 100 pushed the Wari AC total to 373 for six versus Shyambazar Club.


Ballygunge United 438/6 in 85 overs (Sailendra Tewari 125, Sourav Bhalla 143 n.o., Khurshid Ahmed Khan 74; Farasat Ullah 3/114). vs High Court.

Rangers 259 in 81.2 overs (Kenneth Sinha 64, Chandan sarkar 50; Prasenjit Banerjee 6/89). Kumartuli 18/0

Kalighat 371/8 in 85 ovs (Charanjit Singh 98, Sounak Das 72). vs Town.

Burnpur CC 240 (Moloy Sarkhel 79; Joydeep Mukherjee 4/43). Tapan Memorial 101/2.

East Bengal 372/6 dec. in 74 ovs (Avijit Ganguly 100, Manabendra Yadav 100, Nikhil Haldipur 48; Tapas Paul 3/112). Mohanlal Club 24/1.

Wari AC 373/6 dec. in 77 ovs (Arijit Basu 111, Arindam Das 100, Prabir Mukherjee 49, Saikat Mukherjee 44; Anirban Chatterjee 5/104). Shyambazar Club 20/1.


Calcutta, Dec. 26: 
Alcalde out-spurted his seven rivals to claim the 1,400m Army Cup, today’s feature event. Cristopher Alford, who rode the three-year-old colt by Rebounding Thrill-Nimble to a shade under two lengths victory, presented a well-deserving double to the trainer. Earlier in the day, Bharath Singh.had saddled the winner Sadaf.

The rest of the six-event card was,evenly divided between trainers D. Karki and B. Asfand. Asfand notched up a popular brace of wins through Set Aside — guided by apprentice Rutherford Alford with supreme confidence — and Silver Toy. Karki was helped by jockey Paul Kujur to a lucrative double through Castle Moon and Black Mane.

Making full use of the light-impost carried by Alcalde, Cristopher took to the front right after the start, though he allowed Beneficent and Amusing to breath down his neck. However, Alcalde kicked clear in the stretch-run to retire a facile winner.


1. Harvest Star Handicap 1,100m: (2-4-1-3) Sadaf (Islam) 1; Lively Project (A. P. Singh) 2; Declarationoflove (Rutherford) 3; Rheinheart (G. Singh) 4. Won by: 2; 1-1/2; 1-1/2; (1-8.2). Tote: Win Rs 52; Place: 14; 11; 13; Quinella: 46; Tanala: 212. Fav: Lively Project (4). Winner trained by Bharath S.

2. Predator Cup 1,100m: (7-8-4-1) Castle Moon (Kujur) 1; Aureate (Islam) 2; Floral Path (Surender) 3; Bay Dragon (Locke) 4. Won by: 3-3/4; 3-1/2; 1-1/2; (1-8.2). Tote: Win Rs 43; Place: 15; 33; 42; Quinella: 460; Tanala: 6,250. Fav: Lovely Duchess (5). Winner trained by D. Karki.

3. General A S Vaidya Memorial Cup 2,000m: (3-2-4-5) Set Aside (Rutherford) 1; Among Men (Gowli) 2; Abroach (C. Alford) 3; Solo Act (Tamang) 4. Won by: 1-1/4; SH; Dist; (2-7.8). Tote: Win Rs 21; Place: 14; 20; Quinella: 55; Tanala: 116. Fav: Abroach (4). Winner trained by Asfand.

4. Ute Handicap 1,400m: (8-2-1-10) Black Mane (Kujur) 1; Bul Bul (Engineer) 2; Santillana (Connorton) 3; Scavenger’s Son (C. Alford) 4. Won by: 1-3/4; Nk; Nk (1-28.9). Tote: Win Rs 150; Place: 28; 19; 25; Quinella: 412; Tanala: 6,299. Fav: Scavenger’s Son (10). Winner trained by D. Karki.

5. Army Cup 1,400m: (8-2-5-6) Alcalde (C. Alford) 1; Soviet Song (Harish) 2; Lockers Park (Rabani) 3; Earl Grey (Appu) 4. Won by: 1-3/4; 2-1/4; 1/2; (1-26.3). Tote: Win Rs 27; Place: 14; 15; 15; Quinella: 43; Tanala: 217. Fav: Alcalde (8). Winner trained by Bharath S.

6. Destiny Boy Handicap 1,400m: (3-4-6-1) Silver Toy (Gowli) 1; Immaculate (R. Ahmed) 2; Actress (C. Alford) 3; Illustrious Reign (Dalpat S.) 4. Won by: SH; Nk; 1-1/4; (1-29). Tote: Win Rs 16; Place: 13; 207; 15; Quinella: 1,549; Tanala: 7,853. Fav: Silver Toy (3). Winner trained by Asfand.

Jackpot: Rs 3,938; (C) Rs 842.

Treble: (i) Rs 577; (ii) Rs 639.

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