Cautious India on way to big lead
Venkat a certainty
I shouldn’t have got out in the last over: Das
AIFF plans ‘goodwill’ trip to Afghanistan
One-run win for Jodhpur Boys
75 years of Suburban Club
TN trounce Karnataka
RCTC Million/ Saladin look much improved
Bangalore Races/Society Dream set for 3 in a row
Bangalore Racing/ Ronson wins main event

Nagpur, Feb. 22: 
INDIA 209/2

If it’s the VCA ground and a Test against Zimbabwe then, well, Shiv Sundar Das must get a hundred. Fifteen months after his maiden three-figure knock, Shiv Sundar today posted his second. At the same venue, and versus the same opposition.

With the diminutive opener turning anchor — Shiv Sundar, in fact, got out on the second day’s final over — India have reached within 78 runs of Zimbabwe’s first innings total. With three days remaining and the Indians, obviously, looking to bat once only and bat big, the first Test is already as good as out of Zimbabwe’s reach.

Dour cricket sure was the order of the day but, with the wicket getting slower at Brett Lee’s speed, it wasn’t really a picnic for batsmen. Of course, the Indians can be criticised for not changing gears in the afternoon. It didn’t help, though, that Grant Flower briefly attempted doing an Ashley Giles.

Predictably, Shiv Sundar was cut up at having not played out the four deliveries, which remained, but he still expressed happiness at having ended the ‘drought’.

As he put it: “I had to wait for 13 Tests and, so, I do feel nice about getting this hundred. However, I’ve now exposed Sachin Tendulkar (not out zero) to the second new ball, which will be due after six overs...”

The latter remark alone should convey just why Shiv Sundar is the quintessential team man. Indeed, speaking to The Telegraph, an emotional Shiv Sundar dedicated his 105 (292 minutes, 203 deliveries, 19x4) to “teammates and coach John Wright.”

After the last two Zimbabwe (resuming at the overnight 248 for eight) wickets were claimed within an hour, Shiv Sundar and Deep Dasgupta ensured that India’s bid to win yet another home series was right on track.

Shiv Sundar and Deep added a record-erasing 79, cautiously and not extravagantly, before the latter horribly misread Zimbabwe’s lone specialist spinner (left-armer Raymond Price) and returned after contributing 33 in a 121-minute stay.

[The previous best for the first-wicket, against Zimbabwe, was 72 between Shiv Sundar and Sadagopan Ramesh, here itself, 15 months ago.]

Then followed a 130-run partnership between Shiv Sundar and vice-captain Rahul Dravid (57 not out in 173 minutes, 141 balls, 8x4) — it ended with barely a couple of minutes for stumps.

Though Shiv Sundar had collected quite a few runs behind the wicket, that last over (from Price) saw him cut into Alistair Campbell’s ultra-safe hands. The Zimbabweans rejoiced as if they had got Sachin, a response, which spoke volumes for the opener’s innings.

Incidentally, former Australian opener Geoff Marsh, now Zimbabwe’s coach, was among the first to congratulate Shiv Sundar. Actually, Shiv Sundar creamed runs on all sides, and was particularly brilliant on the square, through covers and off his legs.

The innings reinforced that timing and placement remain Shiv Sundar’s forte. Additionally, he used his feet well. Clearly, both Andy Flower (at first slip) and wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu will forever regret not going for the edge, off Heath Streak, when Shiv Sundar was just on four.

Lunch was taken at 41 for no loss, with all 28 of Shiv Sundar’s runs coming off boundaries. Deep was then on 12. The second session, when Deep got out, saw 74 added from as many as 30 overs. It’s in this period the Indians should have moved into a higher gear.

By tea, Shiv Sundar was on 66 to Dravid’s 11.

Dravid did take much time getting used to the pace of the wicket and, surprisingly for somebody of his experience (54 Tests), initially struggled to find gaps. Later, though, Dravid launched into fluent drives, on both sides, and found gaps with minimum effort.

Though Dravid didn’t miss a Test during that four-week rehab programme in Johannesburg, he had to skip a one-day series. So, the on-going game is a comeback match, which probably partly explains his early ‘struggle’.

Having got more than set, Dravid can play a stellar role in helping India reach a jumbo total. Sachin has already taken guard, while captain Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman are to follow. Here onwards, the Indians can only themselves queer the pitch. After all, barring Streak, Zimbabwe have a thoroughly pedestrian attack.

With the top beginning to come off, the absence of a second specialist spinner is bound to hurt Zimbabwe even more. Worse, the otherwise very disciplined Travis Friend has already been officially warned by umpire Srinivas Venkatraghavan for unleashing a beamer at Dravid.

This warning, however, initially didn’t go down well with Zimbabwe. The visitors were under the erroneous impression that, yesterday, Zaheer Khan wasn’t similarly treated. It was left to the former India captain to let Stuart Carlisle know, in his inimitable style, that he did warn Zaheer.

Earlier, Friend remained unbeaten on a colourful 60 (102 minutes, 70 deliveries, 8x4, 1x6) when the Zimbabwe innings ended with Brighton Watambwa’s dismissal. Price was run out, at the same score (18) on which he was dropped by Laxman off Anil Kumble.

Surprisingly, Zaheer wasn’t given a bowl.


Nagpur, Feb. 22: 
While it’s certain former India captain Srinivas Venkatraghavan will feature in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) eight-strong Elite Panel of umpires, there’s a reasonably good chance that Sri Lanka’s ex-International, Asoka de Silva, will also make the cut.

If that actually is so, Asia will then have two representatives on the Panel that will be in place by April 1.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, quite a few captains have given the Lankan high marks in their assessment and, so, De Silva may just make it. It’s significant, of course, that the ICC recently asked captains of all ten Test-playing nations to formally list their top eight umpires.

The captains, one understands, were specifically required to “rank” the umpires and a high ranking from a majority of the captains should alone see the contenders — all of whom currently are on the ICC’s (quota-based) line-up — graduate to the Elite Panel.

One learns West Indian Steve Bucknor could be ranked first and that the Elite eight may include two Englishmen: David Shepherd and former International Peter Willey. Australia’s Darryl Harper, Rudi Koertzen of South Africa and Zimbabwe’s Russell Tiffin should complete the Panel.

Venkat and Shepherd, by the way, are officiating in the on-going Test here.

The ICC is in the process of finalising the Elite eight as also the five permanent Match Referees. However, who will join Chief Referee Ranjan Madugalle in this shortlist isn’t very clear.

Incidentally, the captains of all ten Test-playing nations were also asked to list (and not rank) the four Match Referees who should keep Madugalle, a former Lankan captain, company. It won’t surprise if Sourav Ganguly, for one, omitted Messrs Cammie Smith and Mike Denness.

The permanent Match Referees’ panel, too, will be in place by April 1.

As of now, India has two representatives among the ICC’s umpires — Venkat and A.V. Jayaprakash. Two Indians, Hanumant Singh and Gundappa Vishwanath, also feature in the existing (nominated) Match Referees’ shortlist.


Nagpur, Feb. 22: 
Even though he has two hundreds under his belt, Shiv Sundar Das rates the first innings 84 at the Chepauk, versus Australia last year, as his “finest” Test innings.

“Getting those runs against McGrath, Gillespie and Warne will remain very special,” Shiv Sundar remarked at stumps on Day II, not very long after he got out for a character-packed 105.

Looking back on the hundred, he said: “I was determined to stick around and not play a rash shot after getting set... That I hadn’t got a hundred for 13 Tests probably made me more determined... Of course, I got excellent support from Deep and, then, Rahul...”

Shiv Sundar added: “Actually, I shouldn’t have got out in that last over... The second new ball isn’t far off and, tomorrow, I should have resumed afresh...” Incidentally, he dedicated his effort to coach John Wright and the rest of the team.

For his part, Wright had this to say during a chat with The Telegraph: “Dassie needed a hundred, so that’s something out of the way. At the same time, he should have stayed unbeaten... Dassie will learn, for he does have lots of character.”


Calcutta, Feb. 22: 
However much Indian soccer may suffer in quality and quantity, there has never been a lack of showbiz in Priya Ranjan Das Munshi’s presidency. With the domestic soccer scenario in a shambles, and India plumbing new depths in world and even Asian rankings every month, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is looking for a rather high profile trip to Afghanistan for a “goodwill visit” in March.

If it has been a political decision, Member of Parliament and Congress chief whip Das Munshi refuses to state it. “No, there is absolutely no politics involved,” he told The Telegraph over telephone today.

“This will be an AIFF trip, in association with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). I have already had a talk with AFC secretary Peter Velappan, and he has requested me to arrange a representative trip with a team and gifts such as total playing kit and footballs and the like.”

While the effort by the AIFF does sound a trifle trite, the involvement of the AFC lends a shade of credibility to the entire issue.

Television picture of Afghans enjoying robust games of soccer has drawn tremendous viewership and this could, in a way, lend a profile of some worth to the Indian soccer fraternity.

However, pretty much in AIFF tradition, “nothing has been decided in detail as yet”. Everything, it seems, will again be “decided” at the eleventh hour.

There will be a team, but no team selection procedure has been decided upon, and it is not even clear from where and how the coach would be availed of, forget the source of funds for the allegedly cash-strapped AIFF. By the looks of it, soccer is unlikely to be the prime objective on the tour.

On the other hand, the political implications of the entire exercise could be manifold. Whatever the outcome of the UP elections, whatever the colour of government in the most populous and sensitive state of the country, this could be a coup of sorts for the Congress.

Union sports minister Uma Bharti could not be contacted because she is in Kota, busy with the election process. However, it is learnt that she has not yet got herself involved in the issue and could be in only at a late hour.

Such activity has gained a bit of ground with the scheduled arrival Monday of Hamid Karzai, head of the interim Afghanistan government in the country on a three-day trip. “I have asked for an appointment with Mr Karzai,” said Das Munshi, “And I will make a presentation to him then.”

The welcoming nod, of course, will be a formality, what with Afghanistan needing all that it can get.

Fifa has already made a policy decision on Afghanistan. It involves infrastructure development in the main, followed by involving the country in its Coca-Cola coaching schemes.

A Fifa delegation is set to visit the country for the purpose, and “I will get to know more of this when I go to Zurich for a meeting on March 5,” said Das Munshi.

Das Munshi, who is a technical committee member of the AFC, is a member on Fifa’s women’s committee.

The AIFF, though, is more occupied at the moment, with its Pusan Asian Games preparations.

“We need to draw up a clean plan of action for the Asian Games, our big target now,” said Das Munshi. The Games is to be held later this year. “In this respect the AIFF is working in tandem with the IOA.”

The ill-fated SAFF championship, last stubbed out when the Fifa derecognised the Bangladesh Football Federation for an arbitrary change of top officials (the organisation has regained recognition after re-instatement of its elected office bearers), does not figure in the AIFF’s list of priorities at all.

It is only this championship that, of late, had been pushing India’s world rankings up a notch or two.


Calcutta, Feb. 22: 
Jodhpur Park Boys’ School pipped New Alipore Multipurpose School by one run in their CAB under-19 inter-school meet. Replying to Jodhpur’s 246 for eight in 40 overs, New Alipore were all out in 39.2 overs, a run less.


Jodhpur Park Boys 246/8 in 40 ovs (Saibal Gupta 76, Anirban Bhowmick 51; Raja Gupta 3/42). New Alipore Multipurpose 245 in 39.2 ovs (Aditya Sengupta 61, Raja Gupta 65; Supratik Sinha 3/19) Jodhpur Park won by one run.

Khalsa HS 201/7 in 26.3 ovs (Shib Shankar Misra 39 n.o.; Kirit Sarkar 3/28). Central Model School 197 in 37.1 ovs (Mukesh Singh 4/33, Lokesh Singh 3/32) Khalsa HS won by 3 wkts.

National HS 96/2 in 12.2 ovs. Calcutta Boys’ School 93 in 29.3 ovs (Subhajit Paul 3/38). National HS won by 8 wkts.

Barisha HS 288 in 38 ovs (Asif Ali 94, Avirup Dey 41 n.o.; Siddhartha Harlalka 5/53, Harshit More 4/42). Singhania Academy 114 in 26.3 ovs. Barisha HS won by 174 runs.

St Paul’s School 162/2 in 28.1 ovs (Biplab Khatua 58 n.o.). St Joseph’s College 161 in 37.5 ovs (Muzzammil Lodhi 39 n.o.; Prosenjit Saha 4/29). St Paul’s School won by 8 wkts.

Heramba Chandra win

Heramba Chandra today clinched the state inter-college cricket meet, beating Umesh Chandra by four wickets in the final.

Brief scores: Umesh Chandra 209 in 42.5 ovs (Adil Jehangir 70; Subhankar Das 3/26). Heramba Chandra 212/6 in 42 ovs (Subhankar 56, Amitava Chakraborty 59). Heramba Chandra won by 4 wkts.

Inter-camp meet

East Calcutta District Sports Council (ECDSC), Chandranath Chatterjee MCCC, BNR School of Coaching and Belgachia United won their respective matches in the Milo under-19 inter-coaching camp cricket meet here today. While ECDSC beat Milan Sangha, Chandranath Chatterjee beat Dum Dum Sporting, BNR beat Rajasthan CC and Belgachia United beat Pankaj Roy CCC.


ECDSC 131 for no loss (Avik Mullick 61 n.o.). Milan Sangha 131/7. ECDSC won by 10 wkts.

Chandranath Chatterjee 159/7 (Kashinath Patra 4/13). Dum Dum Sporting 84 (Avijit Bose 3/14). Chandranath Chatterjee won by 76 runs.

BNR SC 216/2 (Rahul Sharma 90 n.o.). Rajasthan CC 168/4. BNR SC won by 48 runs.

Belgachia United 188/5 (Sk Mistafa Adil 76 n.o.; Prasenjit Das 3/13). Pankaj Roy CCC 185/9 (Pankaj Mondol 43; Arunava Deb Sarkar 3/36). Belgachia United won by 5 wkts.


Calcutta, Feb. 22: 
The Suburban Club is into its 75th year of existence. In celebration of their platinum jubilee, the club will hold several events in the early part of the year, including an exhibition match on Sunday featuring P.B. Dutta, Chuni Goswami, Snehashish Ganguly, Raja Venkat, Palash Nandy, Pronob Nandy, Raju Mukherjee, Subroto Porel and Syed Saba Karim.

Other activity of the club for this will include a book on the history of world cricket, a club website on cricket and football, a possible one-day clinic for youngsters by Sunil Gavaskar and Bishan Singh Bedi and a cultural festival on April 2.


Calcutta, Feb. 22: 
Tamil Nadu demolished Karnataka 7-0 in a group a match of the tenth national women’s football championship at SAI today.

In a group B tie at Bongaon, Kerala beat Madhya Pradesh 4-1. Goa defeated Haryana 4-0 in another group B game.

Sarkar named coach

Goutam Sarkar has been named coach of the Calcutta Mayor’s under-16 and under-19 football teams to tour Sweden for the Gothia Cup, Denmark for the Dana Cup and a Bangladesh tour, on the annual Mayoral exchange programme.

Trials for selecting these teams will be held at the SAI, Eastern Centre from March 1 to 7, it was informed at a press meet today.


Calcutta, Feb. 22: 
Looking vastly improved, Saladin may walk away with the 1,600m RCTC Million that takes the prime-slot in tomorrow’s seven-event card. Going by his morning workouts, the well-bred colt by Razeen out of Naseem El Fajr appears to have improved by leaps and bounds since his last run when the John Stephens-trainee, in a 1,400m race, finished an easy third to Afflutter, also a contestant in the eight-horse field. But the fact that Saladin’s bloodlines points to his comfort over the slated trip, apprentice Rutherford Alford may have the measure of his seven rivals.

Race card & selections

1. Golden Can Handicap 1,100m (Cl V, Rt. 00-28) 12.55 pm: April Ace 61 R. Ahmed 2; Bay Dragon 60 B.Gurang 3; Aklovic 59 Gajender 1; Val Rouge 58 Smith 4; Tsaynen Blue 57.5 Engineer 5; Floral Path 57 Shanker 6; Lady Shirley 57 A. P. Singh 7.

1. Lady Shirley (7) 2. Val Rogue (4) 3. Floral Path (6)

2. Birthday Book Handicap 1,200m (Cl III, Rt. 44-72) 1.30 pm: Altiama 61 Domingo 8; Gra-Lemor 60 B. Gurang 10; Winning Hand 55.5 Gowli 6; Affliction 54.5 C. Alford 2; Ardon 54.5 Prakash 4; Revolution 54.5 Smith 9; Auctioneer 51 Surender 3; Lively Project 50 Abraham 7; Carbon Copy 49.5 Yacoob 5; Schumacher 49.5 Yasin 1.

1. Affliction (4) 2. Ardon (5) 3. Revolution (6)

3. Supernova Cup 1,600m (Cl III; Cl IV eligible Rt. 22-72) 2.10 pm: Peace Envoy 60 V. Jaiswal 11; Pretty Boy Floyd 60 Engineer 2; Regal Rocket 59 S. Salam 6; Si Senora 59 A. P. Singh 9; Mr. Bombshell 55 Rabani 3; Charlene 54 Islam 7; Giorgio 54 Upadhya 1; Flamebird 53.5 Gowli 8; Tajik 53 Shanker 5; Aiberni 51.5 C. Alford 4; At My Command 49 Abraham 10.

1. At My Command (11) 2. Flamebird (8) 3. Si Senora (4)

4. H. H. Maharaja Jagaddipendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur of Cooch Behar Memorial Cup 1,200m (Cl I, Rt. 88 over) 2.40 pm: Ancheta 60 Gajender 4; Anolini 60 Surender 1; Acute 59 Rabani 5; Secret Blessing’s 52.5 S. Salam 2; Amusing 51.5 Yasin 6; Comedy of Errors 50.5 Kujur 7; Ballet Master 50 Abraham 3.

1. Ancheta (1) 2. Amusing (5) 3. Ballet Master (7)

5. RCTC Million 1,600m (Terms, 3-y-o only) 3.20 pm: Afflutter 56 Shanker 4; Saladin 56 Rutherford 2; Secret Way 56 Rabani 7; Smart Ruler 56 Prakash 1; Anatolia 54.5 C. Alford 3; Assertive Dancer 54.5 Abraham 8; Romantic Notes 54.5 Kader 5; Star Selection 54.5 Connorton 6.

1. Saladin (2) 2. Anatolia (5) 3. Smart Ruler (4)

6. Veritas Handicap 1,200m (Cl IV, 5-y-o & over Rt. 2-50) 3.55 pm: Brave Venture 60 B. Gurang 2; Midnight Escape 60 C. Alford 3; Simply Monarch 60 Connorton 8; Adeline 59.5 Upadhya 10; New Fortune 59.5 S. Salam 9; Red Trident 59.5 Shanker 6; Storm Centre 59.5 A. P. Singh 13; Glass Slipper 57 Gowli 11; Royal Philosopher 55.5 Kujur 1; Constantine 55 Smith 4; Simply Dashing 55 Prakash 7; Global Harmony 53 Rabani 5; Iron Warrior 49.5 Yasin 12.

1. Simply Dashing (11) 2. Red Trident (6) 3. Global Harmony (12)

7. Turf Hawk Handicap 1,400m (Cl IV, Rt. 22-50) 4.30 pm: Bul Bul 60.5 Engineer 12; Azurica 59.5 Smith 13; Leading Conquest 59.5 A. P. Singh 11; Classic Pursuit 58.5 Rabani 10; Midas Touch 56.5 B. Gurang 9; Crowned Prince 56 Connorton 6; Asprey 55.5 Upadhya 4; Alborada 54.5 Prakash 8; Impressive Prince 54 Abraham 1; Abandoned 51.5 Brij S. 2; Lucifer 51.5 Domingo 5; Royal ruler 51 Tamang 7; Dictate 49 Yacoob 3.

1. Alborada (8) 2. Classic Pursuit (4) 3. Bul Bul (1).

Day’s Best: Alborada

Double: Affliction & Ancheta

Bangalore, Feb. 22: 
Society Dream, a winner of two races, looks good to make it a hat-trick of wins when she takes on four rivals in the 1,600m Governor’s Trophy, a terms event for three-year-olds, which is tomorrow’s main attraction.

The Diffident-Moonlight Magic filly from the yard of Karan Singh, is maintaining her good form. Ideal Cut and Bold Bird may spearhead the rival challenge, but it may not take much for her partner Shakti Singh to kick her home.


2.30 pm: Top Style 1. Summer Storm 2. Braid Hills 3.
3 pm: Omni Presence 1. Plain Truth 2. Coral Bird 3.
3.30 pm: Our Ambition 1. Saffron Finch 2. Royal Debut 3.
4 pm: Society Dream 1. Ideal Cut 2.
4.30 pm: Affined 1. Augill Castle 2. Red Sand 3.
5 pm: Atomic Fusion 1. Pink Squirrel 2. Brave Deed 3.
5.30 pm: Brave Bull 1. Abhimanyu 2. Danzor 3.

Day’s Best: Our Ambition

Double: Society Dream & Affined

Bangalore, Feb. 22: 
In a close finish involving Ronson and Grisogono, the former managed to put his neck ahead at the wire to claim the 1,200m Nagarahole Cup, a Class I event, that took the centrestage in the seven-event Bangalore race-card on Friday. S. Rajesh partnered the Sardar Singh-trained six-year-old horse by Classic Tale out of Lavender Gray.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Holenarasipur Plate 1,400m: (5-4-8) Steinlen (Prakash) 1; Storm Seeker 2; God’s Gift 3. Not run: Florale (10). Won by: 5; 3-1/2; (1-30.5). Tote: Win Rs 15; Place: 10; 22; 21; Quinella: 56; Tanala: 280. Fav: Steinlen (5).

2. Makedatu Plate 1,400m: (6-7-1) Alto (Shafiq) 1; Momentous Joy 2; Nesara 3. Not run: Sprite (3). Won by: 4; SH; (1-32.7). Tote: Win Rs 27; Place: 12; 37; 12; Quinella: 188; Tanala: 608. Fav: Nesara (1).

3. Octogonal Plate 1,200m: (7-2-5) Ace of Pace (A. Imran) 1; Brave Russian 2; Maurya 3. Won by: Nk; Nk; (1-18.5). Tote: Win Rs 29; Place: 15; 16; 45; Quinella: 51; Tanala: 1,086. Fav: Ace of Pace (7).

4. Nagarahole Cup 1,200m: (5-6-2) Ronson (Rajesh) 1; Grisogono 2; Joe The Pro 3. Won by: Nk; 4-1/4; (1-15.6). Tote: Win Rs 103; Place: 27; 23; 15; Quinella: 403; Tanala: 3,216. Fav: Chity Bang (7).

5. Siddaganga Cup 1,400m: (6-9-7) Star Alone (Appu) 1; Dover 2; Altosax 3. Won by: 2-1/4; Hd; (1-30.2). Tote: Win Rs 34; Place: 15; 19; 32; Quinella: 71; Tanala: 794. Fav: Star Alone (6).

6. Karwar Plate 1,600m: (4-7-2) Pretty Move (Rajesh) 1; Selena 2; Odeon 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 1/2; (1-44.1). Tote: Win Rs 33; Place: 18; 17; 26; Quinella: 61; Tanala: 1,016. Fav: Pretty Move (4).

7. Bugs Bunny Plate 1,400m: (1-4-5) Alassio (Shakti) 1; Silk Petals 2; St. Lucinda 3. Not run: Scarlet Runner (7). Won by: 6; 1-1/4; (1-30.5). Tote: Win Rs 19; Place: 12; 19; 24; Quinella: 58; Tanala: 463. Fav: Alassio (1).

Jackpot: Rs 9,498; (C) Rs 1,583.

Treble: (i) Rs 757; (ii) Rs 168.

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