India confident of 2-0 sweep
EB ooze confidence
Masadur injured in road accident
Topsel notch up third win
Maharashtra team scratched
Ballygunge rush to victory
Rafiq Ali snatches lead with 7-under
Indian duo out
Eastern Command Cup/Easy win for Among Men
Track Trials

New Delhi, Feb. 27: 
After the winter of discontent in South Africa and unconvincing performances against England, India hope to get reinvigorated against minnows Zimbabwe in the second Test at the Kotla starting tomorrow. After today’s net practise, skipper Sourav Ganguly confidently said: “We are playing well and looking forward to a 2-0 series win.”

Coach John Wright, in his 16th month with the Indian team, is still not too pleased with the team’s fielding and the inability to pulverise the opposition, when they are on the ropes.

Wright has expressed unhappiness about the way India frittered away a winning chance on last year’s tour to Zimbabwe. The coach feels it is essential to develop the winning habit.

The skipper agreed that India’s fielding still lacked dynamism and athleticism. He said that the players realised the need to improve and, so, are focusing more on this problem area.

Sourav said that an hour after the innings and 101-run win in Nagpur, the players were out for an intensive fielding session. Even during today’s morning practice, Wright put a lot of emphasis on fielding drills.

In the Indian camp, there was major speculation over two slots. It was believed that Sanjay Bangar, who opens for Railways in the Ranji Trophy, would be promoted as opener and Deep Dasgupta would bat lower down the order, just after either V.V.S. Laxman or Virender Sehwag.

This move, if deployed, will help Deep improve his wicketkeeping, which has come in for some criticism. It is felt that Deep can thus concentrate more on his ‘keeping, and will not have the additional pressure of opening.

However, skipper Sourav ruled out the possibility of using Bangar as opener with Shiv Sundar Das.

The skipper said: “I think Deep is doing a fine job there,” he said, even while admitting that his Bengal teammate’s performance behind the sticks, especially against the spinners, needed improvement.

“He has to improve a lot while standing up to Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.. He has improved but we will have to give him a bit more time.”

Both Sourav and Wright admitted that Deep’s batting was a bonus and offered the team management more options. “If he starts keeping well and also continues with his batting form, he will be a major asset,” the skipper felt.

Bangar, after his century in Nagpur, is being hailed as the much sought after allrounder, necessary to provide the right balance to the team. “If he does well consistently, he is going to solve a lot of problems,” Sourav said.

The skipper was pleased with Bangar’s ability to reverse swing and felt that his accurate medium-pace could be an ideal foil to principal pacers Jawagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan.

The Indians may make one change to the team that played in Nagpur and bring local hero Virender Sehwag in place of Laxman. The skipper categorically said it was entirely up to the selectors, but added: “Laxman is a class batsman, who is going through a bad patch. Not many have played a knock like his 281 against the Aussies last season.”

Andy Flower, who made 183 and 70 the last time he played here, will hope to get back to form on the placid Kotla wicket. His confidence appears to be shaken, after being bamboozled by Mutthiah Muralidharan in Sri Lanka.

Zimbabwe are banking on runs from his brother Grant Flower, Alistair Campbell and in-form skipper Stuart Carlisle. The skipper also praised opener Trevor Gripper, who scored five and 60 in the last Test.

The Zimbabwe skipper feels the pitch will turn after the third day and he will bat if he wins the toss. Sourav, however, feels the wicket is placid.

Carlisle thinks the pitch will offer little to the fast bowlers and hopes that left-arm spinner Raymond Price will continue to trouble the Indian batsmen. Carlisle admits that his team lacks a quality support spin bowler for Price.

This means Grant Flower and Gripper will have to bowl long spells.

Medium-pacer Mpumelelo Mbangwa for the off-colour Brighton Watambwa is the only likely change for Zimbabwe.


INDIA: Sourav Ganguly, Shiv Sundar Das, Deep Dasgupta, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman/Virender Sehwag, Sanjay Bangar, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Jawagal Srinath.

ZIMBABWE: Stuart Carlisle, Trevor Gripper, Gavin Rennie, Andy Flower, Alistair Campbell, Grant Flower, Heath Streak, Travis Friend, Tatenda Taibu, Raymond Price, Brighton Watambwa/Mpumelelo Mbangwa.

Umpires: A.V. Jayprakash, Asoka De Silva.


Calcutta, Feb. 27: 
East Bengal, buoyed by two consecutive victories in the National League, will look to maintain their form when they lock horns with Mahindra United at the Salt Lake Stadium tomorrow.

Leaders Mahindra, fresh from their Durand Cup triumph, will also aim to get back to winning ways after their 1-1 draw with JCT in the previous game. The absence of a few of their frontline players, including M. Suresh and Tapan Ghosh, had handicapped them against JCT and they hope to set the record straight with their return tomorrow.

Coach Harish Rao acknowledged that their ‘away’ matches against both the city giants will prove crucial. The first leg clash with East Bengal had ended in a 1-1 draw.

The visitors will rely heavily on Nigerians Austin Okolo and Bala Usman for goals. Jules Alberto and S. Venkatesh in the midfield have provided the much needed variety and thrust in their attack and it will depend on how they combine in deciding the course of the game.

East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick, however, oozed confidence after practice today. “It’s not that Mahindra are unbeatable,” he said. Bhowmick thinks so after watching Mahindra against Mohun Bagan in Mumbai. “While Bagan missed a few open chances, Mahindra capitalised on those that came their way.

“The difference between the two sides is that Mahindra are operating in top gear and East Bengal are still trying to come to terms with the first gear,” he evaluated.

The confidence gained from the two wins will help the players to take the field in a positive frame of mind. But it is the porous defence that is keeping Bhowmick worried.

He was not willing to discuss strategy but it is likely that he will try and block Mahindra in the midfield and rely more on the counter attacks.

East Bengal are likely to use their Brazilian recruit Carlos De Silva as a withdrawal forward, with Anit Ghosh as central medio. Nigerian Isiaka Awoyemi is also expected to play a vital role in midfield.

In another match tomorrow, Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) host Churchill Brothers in Bangalore, adds PTI.


Calcutta, Feb. 27: 
Mohammed Masadur Rehman Baidya, the first orthopaedically handicapped Asian swimmer to cross the English Channel and Strait of Gibraltar, was seriously injured in a road accident last night. He has been admitted to the Ruby General Hospital and will be operated upon tomorrow.

The accident occurred when Baidya’s specially-made three-wheeler was hit by a Maruti in the E.M. Bypass around 11.30 pm, his mother said.

“He has suffered multiple fractures on the femur bone of his left thigh,” orthopaedic surgeon Dr Kunal Sengupta, who is attending on the ace swimmer, said today.

He was initially admitted to the intensive therapy unit of the hospital but was moved to a general bed this morning. His condition is stated to be stable.

“We are keeping all options open. We will first try to set the bone right through nailing. If that is not possible, we may have to go for plate and screw,” Dr Sengupta added.

The 33-year-old swimmer, who lost both his lower limbs following a rail accident in 1978, caused a sensation by conquering the English Channel in 1997. He hogged world headlines yet again last year by successfully crossing the Strait of Gibraltar.

Asked if he would be able to take to the waters again, Dr Sengupta said: “If there are no further complications, he can always make a comeback. It will take him four/five months to fully recover.”


Calcutta, Feb. 27: 
Topsel maintained their winning form in the The Telegraph Merchants’ Cup badminton meet, beating Assam Company 21-3, 5-21, 21-9 this evening at the Saturday Club. This was their third successive win.

PWC and Blowplast recorded their second wins today. PWC beat Rediffusion 13-21, 21-10, 21-1 while ITC A trounced Blowplast 21-9, 21-4.

Infar beat Eveready 21-11, 7-21, 21-13 while Hindustan Times got the better of Wockhardt 16-21, 21-19, 21-16. In tonight’s final match, Pepsi dismissed Indal 21-10, 21-1.


Calcutta, Feb. 27: 
Maharashtra were scratched from the 10th women’s national football championship for fielding six unregistered players in their match against Kerala in the quarter final league yesterday.

This was decided at a disciplinary committee meeting of the Indian Football Association today.

Yesterday, Kerala along with Bengal and Orissa, the other teams in the group, had protested the presence of the six players — four from Punjab and two from Goa — in the Maharashtra line-up.

Police AC win

Police AC overcame Wari by a R. Das goal in first division group B action of the BHA league today.


Calcutta, Feb. 27: 
Ballygunge United swept aside Shibpur Institute by ten wickets on the first day of their CAB league first division championship play-off match today. Soumya Pal (5/63) and Javed Akhtar (4/39) skittled Shibpur out for 185 before openers Khurshid Alam Khan (115) and Sandip Das (50) helped Ballygunge coast to the target.


Shibpur Institute 185 (Soumya Pal 5/63, Javed Akhtar 4/39). Ballygunge United 187 (Khurshid Alam Khan 115 n.o., Sandip Das 50 n.o.). Ballygunge won by 10 wkts.

Barisha Sporting 368/7 (Dibyendu Chakraborty 106, Subhas Dixit 78, Kuntal Mallick 69 n.o., Soutam Mitra 54). Taltala Institute 26/0. Match to continue.

Tollygunge Agragami 163 (Arup Tripathi 3/15, Samit Ghosh 3/49). Suburban Club 164/3 (Robi Pradhan 67). Suburban won by 7 wkts.

Sporting Union 264 (Satrajit Lahiri 94; Sugata Roy 4/70). City AC 15/0. Match to continue.

BNR 391/9 (Prasanta Sinha Roy 98, Vikas Khanna 72, Sanjay Choubey 59 n.o.) vs Calcutta Rangers. Match to continue.

High Court Club 126 (Sourav Sarkar 4/16, Anirban Chatterjee 4/19). Shyambazar Club 130/2 (Amitava Roy 75n.o.). Shyambazar won by 8 wkts.

Monoharpukur Milan Samity 316 (Sourav Basu 106, Arghya Maitra 67, Abhijit Chatterjee 60). Aikya Sammilani 19/0. Match to continue.


Calcutta, Feb. 27: 
Rafiq Ali shot into the lead with a seven-under 65 after Round II in the third leg of the Royal Challenge Grand Prix meet at the RCGC this afternoon. Raju Ali, who led after the first round, slipped to sixth.

Rafiq, youngest of the five Ali brothers, outshone his better-known younger sibling Firoz, with nine birdies to equal the season’s record by Mukesh Kumar at the MGC-Hyundai Open in Chennai and by Vivek Bhandari in the Noida Open.

The cut in this 21st leg of the Hero Honda Indian PGA Tour came at 13-over 157. The last man to squeeze in was the eldest Ali, Rejwan, but the first golfer who failed to make the cut was another of the Alis, Chini. The fifth brother Madhu Ali is caddying for Rejwan.

Rafiq, who moved to seven-under, had a par round of 72 for the first round. He is now four strokes clear of his nearest rival, Vijay Kumar, the only player with two sub-par rounds in the field.

Vijay, winner of the first Royal Challenge event in Noida in December, added a one-under 71 to his first round card of two-under 70. Sitting at the third place and still waiting for his first win of the season is Digvijay Singh, who brought in a par round of 72 to go with his first round two-under 70.

Local golfer Rahil Gangjee, way ahead in the race for the Rookie of the Year award, placed himself in the fifth spot with a two-under card of 70 to go with is two-over for the first day. He is now par for two rounds.


Calcutta, Feb. 27: 
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi lost in the first round of the San Jose ATP meet today. According to information received here, the top seeds lost 3-6, 4-6 to the American pair of Todd Martin and James Blake.


Calcutta, Feb. 27: 
The Javed Khan-trained five-year-old Among Men to an easy victory in the 2,000m Eastern Command Cup, the main event in today’s race-card. Robert Gowli partnered the Green Forest-Broken Sky son to victory.


1. Red Flannel Handicap 1,100m: (3-9-4-7) Declarationoflove (I. Chisty) 1; Ever So Loyal (Rabani) 2; Adeline (Upadhya) 3; Beau Bruno (Brij S.) 4. Won by: 2; 2-3/4; Nk; (1-6.9). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 12; 31; 115; Quinella: 136; Tanala: 3,948. Fav: Declarationoflvoe (3). Winner trained by R. Alford.

2. Upguards Handicap 1,100m: (9-3-4-7) Sergeant Slipper (A. P. Singh) 1; Zuhaak (K. Kumar) 2; Andrada (Domingo) 3; Wakamba Warrior (Shanker) 4. Won by: 1-3/4; 1-1/4; Nk; (1-6.3). Tote: Win Rs 54; Place: 17; 15; 19; Quinella: 92; Tanala: 639. Fav: Zuhaak (3). Winner trained by Daniel D.

3. Lt. Gen. Jameel Mahmood Memorial Trophy 1,200m: (3-2-5-1) Grecian Prince (R. Ahmed) 1; Rich Dominion (Connorton) 2; Lady Shirley (Rabani) 3; Secret Adversary (B. Gurang) 4. Not run: Aklovic (4). Won by: 3-3/4; 1-1/4; 3-3/4; (1-14.3). Tote: Win Rs 118; Place: 44; 13; Quinella: 84; Tanala: 437. Fav: Rich Dominion (2). Winner trained by Daniel D.

4. Eastern Command Cup 2,000m: (4-5-2-3) Among Men (Gowli) 1; Illustrious Reign (I. Chisty) 2; Discomatic (Connorton) 3; Alkido (Islam) 4. Won by: 7-1/2; 4-1/4; 6-1/4; (2-4.6). Tote: Win Rs 27; Place: 20; 20; Quinella: 49; Tanala: 186. Fav: Among Men (4). Winner trained by Javed K.

5. Courageous Cup 1,200m: (11-8-10-12) Angeles (C. Alford) 1; Abashed (Surender) 2; Excellent Striker (A. P. Singh) 3; Lawyer’s Love (I. Chisty) 4. Won by: Nk; Nk; 3/4; (1-12.9). Tote: Win Rs 18; Place: 14; 59; 22; Quinella: 245; Tanala: 1,438. Fav: Angeles (11). Winner trained by Vijay S.

6. Partisan Handicap 1,200m: (2-1-3-10) Wild Is The Wind (C. Alford) 1; Heaven’s Blessing (A. P. Singh) 2; Flinders (Islam) 3; Gul (Engineer) 4. Not run: Kyalami (4) & Scenic Song (5). Won by: 1-1/4; 1-1/4; 2-1/4; (1-15.5). Tote: Win Rs 31; Place: 12; 19; 12; Quinella: 112; Tanala: 313. Fav: Flinders (3). Winner trained by Mujeeb R.

Jackpot: Rs 7,708; (C) Rs 1,060.

Treble: (i) Rs 1,561; (ii) Rs 100.

Calcutta, Feb.27: 
Attune, Cup of Life, Abridge and Automatic were impressive when the following horses were exercised today.

Outer sand track

1,600m: Attune (C. Alford) and Accrete (Domingo) in 1-53s; (400m) 29s. Former was distance better. Amusing (Connorton) in 2-5s; (400m) 32s. Crowned Prince (Connorton) in 2-5s; (400m) 30s.

1,400m: Cup of Life (C. Alford) in 1-38s; (400m) 28s. Impressed. Archery (C. Alford) in 1-42; (400m) 31s. Touch of Elegance (V. Jaiswal) in 1-46s; (400m) 30s. Easy. Abridge (Domingo), Automatic (C. Alford) and Freedom Warrior (Surender) in 1-39s; (400m) 31s. They were separated by a length each.

1,000m: Scavenger’s Son (Shanker) and Cape Blanco (Gajender) in 1-14; (400m) 29s. Former was a distance better. Crimson King (B. Gurang) in 1-18s; (400m) 31s. Earl Grey (Rutherford) in 1-13s; (400m) 30s. Moved well.

800m: Dancing Rhythm (Shanker) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Moved well.Artiness (Gajender) and Anacott (Surender) in 57s; (400m) 29s. They were level. Calcuttan (Rb) and Artisia (Gajender) in 57s. Former was a head better.

600m: Black Mane (Tamang) in 44s; (400m) 28s.

400m: Leading Conquest (Rb) in 28s.

Sand track

1,000m: Darth Vader (Tamang) and Mahika’s Pet (Brij S.) in 1-11s; (400m) 25s. Former 2 ls better. Note former. Jayaashva (V. Jaiswal) in 1-14s; (400m) 29s.

800m: Don Vittorio (Shanker) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Easy. Arian (Brij S.) and Forest Fire/Gold Souk (Tamang) in 53s; (400m) 27s. Former 6 ls better and moved well. Dancing Dream (Rutherford) in 57s; (400m) 28s. Easy. Crucible (C. Alford) in 52s; (400m) 24s. Was handy.    


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