Ratra looks set for Windies
Kumble has ‘sore’ shoulder
Barreto boost to Bagan title chase
Barreto lauds team after win
Falguni stable
I’m not closing the door on a reunion: Bhupathi
BHA matches washed out
Accident claims 4 from Bengal
U-19 title for National HS
Calcutta Racing/ Comedy of Errors stood tall

 
 
RATRA LOOKS SET FOR WINDIES 
 
 
BY LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Calcutta, March 11: 
While young Ajay Ratra is “almost assured” of a berth in the XVI-strong squad for the West Indies, the other wicketkeeper’s slot is certain to dominate Wednesday’s selection meeting in Kochi.

Those selected, of course, will go for the five-Test series (April 11-May 22) only. The line-up for the five ODIs (May 25-June 2) will be finalised later.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, Mannava Sri Kanth Prasad, out of favour after the 1999-2000 tour of Australia, is a “reasonably strong” contender for the other ‘keeper’s berth.

Also in the frame, but just about (at the moment), is veteran Nayan Mongia whose attitude has been called into question more than once.

Experience (44 Tests, 107 victims) remains Mongia’s USP but, then, the selectors may not wish to back-track after ignoring him for the past 12 months. Also, at 32, Mongia isn’t getting any younger.

In any case, not everybody in the dressing room will welcome Mongia and, so, this too is bound to be kept in mind should he actually enter the picture in a big way by Wednesday.

Incidentally, not totally out of reckoning is Deep Dasgupta. If Deep does make it, though, it will again have everything to do with his batting-ability rather than competence with the big gloves.

Deep, one learns, will be “much better placed” if the selectors plus captain Sourav Ganguly and coach John Wright see him as the third opener — after Shiv Sundar Das and (in all probability) Connor Williams.

A dramatic shift in equations could even see Deep being considered a specialist opener…

Samir Dighe and Deep were the two ‘keepers on our last tour, to South Africa. Dighe, however, missed the Test series after an injury on the morning of the first Test, in Bloemfontein.

Dighe, in fact, returned home soon after that back injury.

Though the wicketkeeper’s position calls for an absolute specialist, the selectors have —over the last three years specially — indulged in multiple experiments. Not surprisingly, then, compromises have often been made.

Mongia, Prasad, Dighe, Syed Saba Karim, Vijay Dahiya, Deep and Ratra have all done national duty in this period. Not to forget vice-captain Rahul Dravid.

A ‘turnover’ of this kind does knock consistency for a six and, if not anything else, it’s encouraging that some with influence are now quietly talking of minimising compromises.

   

 
 
KUMBLE HAS ‘SORE’ SHOULDER 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, March 11: 
Star leggie Anil Kumble is understood to be having a “sore” bowling shoulder and, so, may not play the third ODI against Zimbabwe — in Kochi on Wednesday.

“A decision will probably only be made when the team reaches Kochi tomorrow morning, but it’s quite likely that Sarandeep Singh will get a game and Kumble be rested,” is what a well-placed source told The Telegraph this afternoon.

The five-match series is tied 1-1.

   

 
 
BARRETO BOOST TO BAGAN TITLE CHASE 
 
 
BY SUJIT BHAR
 
Calcutta, March 11: 
Ninety minutes at the Salt Lake Stadium this afternoon decided a number of things — that Mohun Bagan is well in the hunt for a third crown, that East Bengal will remain destined to roam around those lowly off-podium places, that Jose Ramirez Barreto is surely the best striker in the country today. It also proved that pan-fried emotion and not good soccer is the Bengali babu’s favourite Maidan dish.

When Barreto struck home in the 55th minute, Mohun Bagan moved into the leader’s spot in the Tata National League with 28 points from 15 matches. Vasco also stand on 28 points but the Calcutta team has a better goal difference. Churchill, however, have 27 points after 14. East Bengal remained on 20 from the same number of matches.

It was a humid afternoon of wishful soccer, scrappy at best, temper-tattered at its worst. It was interesting to note that a 60,000-odd turnout really did not mind that what was being served may have been tasting a trifle too sour to be fresh. That was that frail, time-tested nature of the Calcutta palette.

To be fair, though, the goal was a package worth all the money one may have paid. It was a dainty and quick mix of a set-piece well effected and a defensive lapse that let go the marauders. Dulal Biswas loped up the middle and found R.P. Singh on the right, in the box. The pass actually reached Jo Paul Ancheri, but the star international botched it up with a jumble fry, and it all resulted in a square centre to the goalmouth. Barreto was volleying in a flash and East Bengal goalkeeper Sudip Sarkar could do little about it.

And, to think that East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick today refused to use the experienced Sangram Mukherjee for a so-called ‘safer’ Sudip.

The match was generally dominated by Mohun Bagan. There was little East Bengal could do in the face of probes from Abaulateef Seriki and Basudeb Mondal (who worked the midfield well) and even Rennedy Singh and R.P. Singh. Their efforts were too creaky, though, and referee Rizwan Ul-Haq’s frequent stoppages without the benefit of advantage did not help. East Bengal did have their mobility problem, but it was less due to what Bhowmick later said was “Falguni Dutta’s absence” and more due to the lack of basic initiative.

East Bengal also lost a good deal of manpower in trying to police Barreto and Seriki. That could have been the make-break difference. Suley Musah was hardly moving today, a man who makes the flanks lively in the dullest of seasons. There were also these temper tantrums (once a brief stoppage involving Seriki and Jackson Egygpong and the latter dived, bringing onto the ground an East Bengal official). On the one occasion that Musah moved, in the 30th minute, Carlos and Dipankar Roy took it to the goal with ‘keeper Rajat Ghosh Dastidar out of position. Hussain Mustafi made a late save for Mohun Bagan.

However, there is little to say about the Mohun Bagan misses. In the 43rd minute Seriki’s effort went off the crosspiece, another in the 77th off Rennedy Singh again chipped off the crossbar.

Sadly, though, apart from the crazily cheering crowd, and the fact that one Calcutta team stays in the lead, there will be little to remember from this ‘derby’ clash, the second time that Mohun Bagan have beaten East Bengal in this League. That, too, is a first for National Leagues.

TEAMS

MOHUN BAGAN: Rajat Ghosh Dastidar; Dulal Biswas, Hussain Mustafi, Amouri Da Silva, Rishi Kapoor; R.P. Singh (Ajoy Singh, 75), Basudeb Mondal (Abdul Saliu, 82), Debjit Ghosh, Rennedy Singh; Jose Ramirez Barreto, Abdulateef Seriki.

EAST BENGAL: Sudip Sarkar; Suley Musah, Isiaka Awoyemi, Dipak Mondal, Jackson Egygpong; Jo Paul Ancheri (Tushar Rakshit, 78), Chandan Das, Anit Ghosh (Ranjan Dey, 60), Dipankar Roy (Dipendu Biswas, 64); Jose Carlos Da Silva, Bijen Singh.

Referee: Rizwan Ul-Haq (Delhi)

   

 
 
BARRETO LAUDS TEAM AFTER WIN 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 11: 
East Bengal’s Anit Ghosh started the day with a prayer. Later he was pulled out by coach Subhas Bhowmick because of “non-performance.”

Mohun Bagan’s Jose Ramirez Barreto finished his job and raised his hands in prayer. “I can only say I have been able to function the way I have because of my team,” he said. “It was a team win today,” he said.

The Brazilian singled out Abdulateef Seriki as the “best player of the day” and said the Nigerian’s efforts well complemented his in the 1-0 National Football League win at the Salt Lake Stadium.

Bhowmick said it was Falguni Dutta’s accident yesterday that did his team in today. “It had created such a psychological pressure on the team, it was difficult to come out of it,” he said after the match.

Bhowmick also put a good deal of blame on Jo Paul Ancheri (who is likely to be out again, because his injury seems to be troubling still) and even Anit, who did a decent job on-field anyway.

Mohun Bagan coach Subrata Bhattacharya believed he “waited out the first half just to measure up the rivals.”

“That was how I was able to dominate the second half,” he said. That was notwithstanding the fact that Mohun Bagan made a good deal of forays in the first half as well.

Bhattacharya felt that the League title is still far off, but “I will let things be easy now, I have been pressuring the players too much for too long.” He also felt that the first-leg win (in which, too, Barreto had scored) was “definitely more satisfying.”

   

 
 
FALGUNI STABLE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 11: 
East Bengal football captain Falguni Dutta, who was injured in a road accident on the Kalyani Expressway yesterday, was shifted to a city nursing home today.

Dutta, who suffered a head injury and broke his collar-bone, underwent an MRI scan which did not reveal anything alarming. Doctors said his condition was stable.

The doctors were non-committal on when he would be discharged but added it was “a matter of days”. Players and officials of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan visited Dutta after today’s match.

   

 
 
I’M NOT CLOSING THE DOOR ON A REUNION: BHUPATHI 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 11: 
Mahesh Bhupathi may have been the one to trigger the latest split in his famous association with Leander Paes, but his door is not closed on a reunion.

“I don’t see why we won’t be playing together again in the future,” Bhupathi told The Telegraph.

“We both know we’ve had our best results with each other. I am not the kind of person who closes the door on anything. If we feel we are ready to win again, I am sure we will play.”

Explaining his sudden decision to part ways with a man he shares three Grand Slam titles with, Bhupathi said: “It’s not just the bad results but the level of tennis we have been playing. Our form’s been way below what we are capable of. The communication and dedication has broken down again.”

So what makes him think that they’ll rediscover the formula that helped them to the pinnacle of world doubles three years ago? “Maybe if we take a break, the fire might start burning again,” Bhupathi replied.

Like Paes, he doesn’t have a new stable partner. “I am playing with (Jan Michael) Gambill this week at Indian Wells but no idea who I am going to play with next,” Bhupathi said.

It was last week, after their second successive first-round loss in the ATP circuit, that Bhupathi expressed his desire to play with different partners. It surprised Paes no end because the two had committed to playing with each other for the whole year.

Dad’s suggestion

PTI adds from Bangalore: Mahesh’s father C.G.K. Bhupathi said the duo’s losing streak was worrying him and he suggested the two separate for a while and look for good options.

“I suggested to Mahesh that they have different partners for a while and get back their confidence. It’s a professional decision. There is no time frame for the two joining hands again,” said Bhupathi senior.

   

 
 
BHA MATCHES WASHED OUT 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 11: 
Rain played spoilsport with today’s matches in the city hockey league with all three group A matches being washed out.

The matches between defending champions CESC and Howrah Union, Eastern Railway and BNR, FCI (East Zone) and CC&FC were the ones to be affected.

In group B, Sporting Union lost 2-4 to Belgachia United, while West Bengal Police and Police AC played out a goalless draw.

Veterans’ cricket

Bharat Petroleum reached the final of the seventh PSCB inter-unit veterans’ cricket tournament, defeating IBP by 31 runs at the DKS ground today. IBP could only manage 121 for six in their 20 overs in reply to BPCL’s 152 for six.

J.B. Rane (41) top scored for Bharat Petroleum. However, the match’s highest scorer was IBP’s Arun Mondal who remained unbeaten on 65. Bharat Petroleum will meet Indian Oil in the final.

Kalinga Rally

The second Servo Kalinga Rally, offering a total prize purse of Rs 3,06,000, will be held on Friday and Saturday amid enhanced security in view of the VHP-called ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ at Ayodhya. This was stated by the Bengal Motor Sports Club today.

The rally, to be staged over 700kms, will meander through Howrah, Midnapore, Mayurbhanj, Balasore, Bhadrak and Dhenkanal before ending in Bhubaneshwar.

Asian champion Hari Singh’s Team JK Tyre will take part in the four-wheeler category.

A total of 20 cars and 30 motorcycles have confirmed participation, with more entr-ies expected.

College football

Shibpur Dinabandhu Institution won the third non-government college state level football meet today defeating Banwarilal Bhalotia College, Asansol, 1-0. Sandip Pal scored.

   

 
 
ACCIDENT CLAIMS 4 FROM BENGAL 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 11: 
Three kabaddi players from Bengal and their coach were killed and seven injured in a road accident at Kiratpur Saheb in Punjab late on Saturday, according to information reaching here today.

West Bengal Kabaddi Association treasurer Abhijeet Palit said the four — Manak Das, Chittaranjan Biswas, Sheik Kaner Ali and coach Chandi Charan Ghosh, all employees of the Income Tax department in the city — were going on a visit to Manali.

The 11-member team had finished participating in the All-India Income Tax meet in New Delhi. The accident occurred when their vehicle collided head-on with a truck at Kiratpur Saheb, 70 kms from Chandigarh.

The injured include Tapan Kumar Das, Komal Das, Shakti Roy, Sukumar Majumdar, Prashant Sardar, Chandan Ghose and Subhan Charan Das and the driver of their car.

While three players died on the spot, Ali died on his way to the PGI hospital in Chandigarh.

   

 
 
U-19 TITLE FOR NATIONAL HS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 11: 
On a day that saw two stoppages caused by unseasonal rain and the rare use of a Super Sopper in a CAB under-19 inter-school match, National High won the title at Eden Gardens, beating South Point on better run-rate today.

National’s chase of South Point’s 174 for eight in 40 overs was halted twice by the elements. When play was stopped for the second time, they were 102 for four in 21 overs, a run rate of 4.85. South Point’s run rate was 4.35.

Jasminder Singh Raipur top scored for National with 45. Subhojit Paul, the leading scorer in the tournament, made 36.

BRIEF SCORES: South Point 174/8 in 40 ovs (Samantak Seal 35; Bikash Singh 3/24). National High 102/4 in 21 ovs (Jasminder Singh Raipur 45; Subhojit Paul 36). National HS won on better run-rate.

   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACING/ COMEDY OF ERRORS STOOD TALL 
 
 
BY STAR RACER
 
Calcutta, March 11: 
Champion trainers normally despatch their wards outside the base stations. But their stock becomes a financial burden for their owners in events of their horses not coming to expectations in the targeted events. Time constraints apart, frequent trips to other turf centres also make it uneconomical proposition for them to keep daily track of their wards’ well beings. The high cost of transportation of horses, to and from the base-station, add to their woes that leaves such trainers with no other option but to under-sell those horses to the local buyers.

Comedy of Errors is one such horse who won two races for trainer Darius Byramji before fairing poorly in his next couple of starts. Sold out to a local owner, the Don’t Forget Me-Badedra five-year-old promptly obliged with a smart victory last Saturday in the Governor’s Cup.

Although the current form favoured the 8-10 hot-fancy Harry The Horse who had thrashed a good field in his previous outing but the John Stephens-trainee had cruised home on a wet-track, thus was slightly at disadvantage on a sunny day with track playing true.

Imran Chisty partnering Comedy of Errors from trainer T. N. Jaiswal’s yard had the 6-1 chance settled behind the leader Anolini till the top of the turn before establishing a winning lead to hold the Harry by three parts of a length at the wire.

Many in the racing circles, however, felt that the favourite was balked for the galloping room and was forced to switch out during the crucial stages of the race and hence the loss. But the fact remains that the Harry, who was brought into the fray in his customary late run along the rails, was presented with ample time and the galloping room, too, but lacked the acceleration to shoot pass the leader .Once the opening closed, apprentice Rutherford had no option but to switch the course.

The afternoon, on the whole was ruled by the lesser fancied runners with Peppy Mistress and Adorer being the only two to have carried the public-purse to victory.

In fact, the two favourites claimed their respective events virtually in identical manner — going from start-to-finish. If the Mistress was troubled initially by another speedster, Sofware, before the Javed Khan-trainee took charge of the running 300m from home, Adorer left no doubt about his superior class when the Bharath Singh-trainee dictated terms right from the flag fall. The Razeen-Adored five-year-old mare was so impressive in her victory that she may strike again before the season ends.

Bharath had, however, started the day on a wrong foot with.his ward Rescue Act letting down a huge following. It was Automatic from brother Vijay’s yard who went about his task from the start.

A runaway winner in his previous start, the Farley Rodrigues-trained Lucifer delivered the goods again, albeit in a close finish that also involved Brave Show and Scavenger’s Son. Incidentally, all the three horses involved in the tussle were easy winners of their last starts but Lucifer had won his event the previous week only.

Tajik decided to take a level jump from the wide out draw to present a rich double to Chisty. Kept in the mid-bunch till the final turn, the Procida-Searching son came with his customary late run to beat Super Smile who appeared to be heading for a sensational upset win until the Richard Alford-trainee walked on to the scene. Ignore the run of the 14-10 favourite Midnight Escape who was left to do much by her jockey Cristopher Alford in home stretch.

   
 

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