Sourav: Focus on unfinished job
Yuvraj in line for India A squad call-up
BHA forced to ‘ration’ teams
Humpy survives scare, upset win by Shetty
Bagan set up semis clash with EB
A.N. Singh is CAJ patron
Mumbai Racing/ Narrow win for Priceless

 
 
SOURAV: FOCUS ON UNFINISHED JOB 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Guwahati, March 17: 
With the Indian and Zimbabwean teams landing around 4 pm, aboard a chartered Sahara flight from Hyderabad, the cricket yatra reached its final destination. For now, that is.

And, after being on the move for a month (beginning with the first Test in Nagpur), it didn’t surprise when the first Sourav Ganguly query was: “When is the earliest flight to Calcutta (on Wednesday)?”

The Indian captain needs a break. As do his teammates. Only, with the West Indies tour beginning in under a fortnight, the break will be anything but extended.

Before that, of course, Sourav and his team have some unfinished business: Beating Zimbabwe in the five-match limited overs’ series. That the teams have ‘shared’ the first four games has only upped the craze-level in these parts.

The deciding match is slated for Tuesday.

“Well, yes, it’s nice to have drawn level but, really, the job isn’t at all complete. Indeed, we’ve simply got to win here,” a visibly tired Sourav told The Telegraph, soon after checking into the Ashok Bramhaputra.

[Incidentally, as is customary in Guwahati, the official hotel is out of bounds for everybody — including the Media. This alone should convey just how paranoid those overseeing security are.]

In the fitness of things, Sourav did talk about yesterday’s MoM Yuvraj Singh. Always a Yuvraj-backer, he said: “In my book, he’s a matchwinner and proved it yet again last night. If I may add, I’ve stated this a number of times in the past as well... I’m very happy for Yuvraj.”

Meanwhile, there’s this chance that allrounder Vijay Bharadwaj, back in the squad after what seems an eternity, could make the XI at Murali Kartik’s expense. Bharadwaj did play the last ODI at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium — in November 1999, when New Zealand posted a handsome victory.

India’s record here is 3-3.

   

 
 
YUVRAJ IN LINE FOR INDIA A SQUAD CALL-UP 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Guwahati, March 17: 
Tuesday’s deciding ODI against Zimbabwe, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here, isn’t just crucial for the Indians collectively but holds much significance for young Yuvraj Singh, who yesterday scripted an outstanding comeback.

It’s not official, but should Yuvraj (MoM in Hyderabad) produce another 24-carat performance, he could be added to the 15-strong India A squad for South Africa. “Well, one will have to wait and watch,” is how a well-placed source of The Telegraph put it this afternoon.

Yuvraj’s unbeaten 80, his third fifty-plus knock, helped India draw level after Zimbabwe made it 2-1 in Kochi. Incidentally, the 20-year-old has been MoM on each occasion he has gone past fifty: 84 versus Australia in the 2000 ICC KnockOut, 98 not out against Sri Lanka last year and, then, last night.

Of course, the source added that the Board would have to endorse any rethink on the part of chief selector Chandu Borde and his colleagues — Madanlal, Shivlal Yadav, Ashok Malhotra and Sanjay Jagdale. If they stand firm, the Board is unlikely to object.

Dinesh Mongia is the India A captain, and the squad includes Mohammed Kaif and Murali Kartik, all three of whom are in the 14 for the fifth and final ODI. While the rest of the A squad will leave in the early hours of Wednesday, this trio departs later.

Ideally, Yuvraj should have been in the original squad, the most obvious reason being that the 2003 World Cup will be in South Africa. Now, it’s this very factor which is encouraging a rethink.

After all, Yuvraj — the perfect No.6 — will almost surely be in the World Cup shortlist and, so, it makes sense giving him more of a feel of conditions there. That Yuvraj was in South Africa for the tri-series at the start of this season, can hardly be held ‘against’ him.

In fact, one learns the selection of Mongia and Kaif is somewhat connected with India’s World Cup preparations. Should they maintain form, both are bound to get an opportunity in cricket’s top showpiece, which is less than a year away.

Except the pool (A) game versus Zimbabwe, India’s remaining five matches will all be in South Africa.

Meanwhile, talk that Kartik’s unexpected call-up (after Kochi) is somehow related to his possibly being pulled out of the India A squad and sent on ‘promotion’ to the West Indies, seems misplaced.

There may have been some substance had Kartik made a distinct mark on his ODI debut (Hyderabad). As it turned out, he went wicketless in eight overs and conceded 47 runs. The ‘buzz’, so to say, began when Kartik replaced Sarandeep Singh who is generally seen as the selectors’ blue-eyed boy.

Sarandeep got dropped for the last two ODIs of this series after being fielded in only one game — Kochi, where he went for 49 runs (one wicket) in eight overs. In a ‘normal’ scenario, Sarandeep being replaced by Kartik would have made a splash. Only, that move coincided with the selectors putting off naming the West Indies-bound 16.

That, simply, had to make the boldest headlines.

   

 
 
BHA FORCED TO ‘RATION’ TEAMS 
 
 
BY AMITAVA DAS GUPTA
 
Calcutta, March 17: 
The only metropolis without a single astroturf, a local league being gradually shunned by the big clubs. If such disturbing facts suggest that hockey is a dying sport in the city, then think again.

Premier teams from all over the country are itching to play in the Beighton Cup, scheduled to get underway Thursday. So much so that the Bengal Hockey Association (BHA), perhaps for the first time, has been left with the unpleasant task of politely refusing half a dozen outstation teams.

“This year about 20 teams wanted to enter the Beighton Cup,” BHA secretary Gurbux Singh said this evening. “From Indian Airlines to Punjab & Sind Bank, there was no top team which didn’t show interest. There is even a request to field the India Juniors. But I can’t accommodate all of them.”

Over the years, the field in the Beighton Cup has consisted of 12-14 outstation teams and 10-12 local outfits. “This year also, I can’t have more than 14 from outside the state. The calendar is fixed and the tournament has to be completed latest by April 5. There’s no way I can slot any extra number of matches,” Gurbux explained.

The teams that showed interest late will have to be turned down. The only exception could be India Juniors.

“The IHF request to field the India Juniors team came just a few days ago. I have told them that would be possible only if Doordarshan agrees to a live telecast of the semis on the 4th and the final on the 5th,” said Gurbux. As of now, the semi-finals are scheduled for April 2 and the final for April 4.

The presence of India Juniors will add to the glamour of the tournament. So will Indian Airlines, who are a certainty. Air India would also have participated but for a foreign tour which has cropped up.

“Perhaps the interest will be even more if we could set up an astroturf in the city,” was Gurbux’s parting shot. Are the powers-that-be listening?

   

 
 
HUMPY SURVIVES SCARE, UPSET WIN BY SHETTY 
 
 
BY BIPIN SHENOY
 
Calcutta, March 17: 
GM norm aspirant, Koneru Humpy, survived a scare, even as Rahul Shetty of Indian Airlines grounded Russian GM Ruslan Sherbakov on the opening day of the 13th Goodricke International Open Chess tournament at Gorky Sadan.

Humpy, in quest of her third and final men’s GM norm, found herself defending a difficult position against her lesser-known rival, Enamul Hossain of Bangladesh, on the black side of a Caro Kann defence. To ease the pressure, Humpy managed to exchange the Queens after which she drifted towards a draw in the endgame.

India’s best bet in the meet, Krishnan Sasikiran, scored a facile win over city boy Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury with black pieces in the closed variation of the Sicilian defence in 40 moves. The city-based GM, Dibyendu Barua, had little difficulty in putting it across young Deep Sengupta with the black pieces in a French defence.

Shetty found himself under pressure from Sherbakov with the black pieces in a Nimzo Indian defence but defended well and was in total control of the position. Sherbakov sacrificed a knight for two pawns on the 31st move, but he overlooked Shetty’s reply which left the former a piece down for little compensation. Shetty, later wrapped up the game by forcing mate on the 51st move.

In an upset of sorts, IM V. Saravanan of India held third seed, Drazen Sermek of Slovenia, to a draw in 14 moves in a Center Counter defence.

In another upset, Dinesh Kumar Sharma of India held fifth seed, GM Sarusnas Sulskis of Lithuania to a draw in 36 moves in a Reti opening.

IM Jeorg Blauert of Germany defended an inferior position tenaciously against the fourth seed, Evgeny Gleizerov of Russia with the black pieces and drew in a Queen’s Gambit Accepted.

Somak Palit of GNCA went down rather tamely to GM Abhijit Kunte of Indian Oil in the Sicilian defence. Kunte made timely exchanges to take the game in a Knight ending where his outside passed pawn proved decisive. In the Asian Open last month, Somak had drawn against Abhijit Kunte in the Asian Open at Bikaner.

Somak’s compatriot, Rahul Sangma, also of GNCA , however held IM Abdulla Al-Rakib of Bangladesh to a creditable draw in a Rook verus Rook and pawn endgame.

RESULTS

P. Konguvel (0) lost to Alexie Aleksandrov (1); Alexander Motylev (1) bt Lanka Ravi (0); V. Saravanan (0.5) drew with Drazen Sermek (0.5); Evgeny Gleizerov (0.5) drew with Jeorg Blauert (0.5); Dinesh Kumar Sharma (0.5) drew with Sarusnas Sulskis (0.5); Pavel Kostur (1) bt Swati Ghate (0); Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury (0) lost to Krishnan Sasikiran (1); Alexey Kuzmin (0.5) drew with T.S. Ravi (0.5); S. Satyapragyan (0) lost to Arsen Yegiazarian (1); Maxim Sorokin (1) bt Suvrajit Saha (0); P.D.S. Girinath (0) lost to Alexander Goloashchapov (1); Ruslan Sherbakov (0) lost to Rahul Shetty (1); Enamul Hussain (0.5) drew with Koneru Humpy (0.5); Yogesh Gore (0) lost to Alexander Fominyh (1); Andrey Shariyazdanov (1) bt Aarthie Ramaswamy(0); K. Visweswaran (0.5) drew with Sergei Ovsejevitsch (0.5); Lalic Bogdan (1) bt Vikramjit Singh (0); Deep Sengupta (0) lost to Dibyendu Barua (1); Eshan Ghaem Maghami (1) bt Nisha Mohota (0); R.B. Ramesh (0.5) drew with Mohamad N Al-Sayed (0.5); Somak Palit (0) lost to Abhijit Kunte (1); 22. Tejas Bakre (0.5) drew with Sriram Jha (0.5); S. Kidambi (1) bt Sandipan Chanda (0); G.B. Prakash (1) bt Wong Zi Jing (0); Saheli Dhar Barua (0.5) drew with P. Mahesh Chandran (0.5); Abdulla Al-Rakib (0.5) Rahul Sangma (0.5); Krishna Thapa (1) got a bye.

   

 
 
BAGAN SET UP SEMIS CLASH WITH EB 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 17: 
Mohun Bagan and Rajasthan entered the CAB league championship semi-finals with crushing wins over Shyambazar and Wari, respectively.

In the last-four stage, Mohun Bagan will clash with East Bengal while Rajasthan lock horns with Eastern Railway.

Having amassed 401 for six yesterday, Mohun Bagan bundled out their opponents for 186. Avinash Kumar, the former Bihar left-arm spinner, took five for 68 while medium-pacer Laxmi Ratan Shukla bagged three for 15. The only resistance came from Aniruddha Roy who made 41.

Wari, chasing a mammoth 441, were given a glimmer of hope by Abhishek Jhunjhunwala. But with very little support from the other end, his 118 turned out to be in vain. Samim Modi did the star turn for Rajasthan, claiming five for 56.

Rajasthan had yesterday piled up 440 for seven, thanks to Nilashish Ghosh’s century (131) and good contributions from Sanjay Agarwal (83) and Soumya Dey (62).

SUMMARISED SCORES

Mohun Bagan 401/6. Shyambazar 186 (Aniruddha Roy 41; Avinash Kumar 5/68, L.R. Shukla 3/15). Mohun Bagan won by 215 runs.

Rajasthan 440/7 (Nilashish Ghosh 131, Sanjay Agarwal 83, Soumya Dey 62). Wari 293 (Abhishek Jhunjhunwala 118; Samim Modi 5/56). Rajasthan won by 147 runs.

   

 
 
A.N. SINGH IS CAJ PATRON 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Jamshedpur, March 17: 
Former president of the erstwhile Bihar Cricket Association A.N. Singh was yesterday anointed the sole patron of the newly-formed Cricket Association of Jharkhand (CAJ), a management committee decision at its meeting at the Keenan Stadium here.

The CAJ meeting also decided to approach the new state’s governor, Vinod Chandra Pandey, to be its patron-in-chief.

CAJ president Amitabh Choudhary took the initiative, and the association is now awaiting affiliation from the BCCI.

   

 
 
MUMBAI RACING/ NARROW WIN FOR PRICELESS 
 
 
BY HONKY DORY
 
Mumbai, March 17: 
Jockey B. Prakash guided the S. Ganapathy-trainee Priceless to a narrow victory in the Manjri Stud Breeders’ Juvenile Fillies’ Championship, while M. Narredu partnered Zurbaran to an easy win in the Shapoorji Pallonji Breeders’ Juvenile Colts Championship in Mumbai on Sunday.

RESULTS

(With inter-state dividends)

1. Solar Princess Plate 1,400m: (2-4-3) Narrator (Kamlesh) 1; Good Thinking 2; Smart Ale 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 2; (1-27.8). Tote: Win Rs 16; Place: 12; 29; 48; Quinella: 164; Tanala: 2,661. Fav: Narrator (2).

2. Madras Race Club Trophy 2,000m: (3-1-4) Mille Fiori (Rajendra) 1; Freedom Dancer 2; Amazing Fighter 3. Won by: Dist; 1/2; (2-6.5). Tote: Win Rs 11; Place: 10; 56; Quinella: 51; Tanala: 118. Fav: Mille Fiori (3).

3. D. F. Karaka Trophy 1,600m: (3-2-4) Accademia (Rupesh) 1; Lisianski 2; Momentous Mover 3. Won by: Dist; 1-3/4; (1-37.8). Tote: Win Rs 52; Place: 30; 24; Quinella: 123; Tanala: 954. Fav: Safari Girl (1).

4. Ray of Light Plate 1,600m: (6-7-2) Zeta Jones (Sunil) 1; Astor Place 2; Cryptonite 3. Won by: 3-1/4; 2-1/2; (1-41.1). Tote: Win Rs 77; Place: 17; 12; 23; Quinella: 68; Tanala: 682. Fav: Battle Star (1).

5. P. R. Mehta Trophy 2,400m: (5-4-1) Don Alejandro (Kamlesh) 1; Allianz 2; Saytarra 3. Won by: 3/4; 7; (2-42.2). Tote: Win Rs 17; Place: 15; 23; Quinella: 38; Tanala: 341. Fav: Don Alejandro (5).

6. Manjri Stud Breeders’ Juvenile Fillies’ Championship 1,600m: (1-2-5-10) Priceless (Prakash) 1; Shamaal (M. Narredu) 2; Our Dynasty (Fallon) 3; Whispering Shadows (Shroff) 4. Won by: Hd; 2; 4-1/4; (1-37.7). Tote: Win Rs 15; Place: 12; 29; 24; Quinella: 76; Tanala: 397. Fav: Princeless (1).

7. Shapoorji Pallonji Breeders’ Juvenile Colts Championship 1,600m: (9-4-5-3) Zurbaran (M. Narredu) 1; Aldeburgh (Kamlesh) 2; Noble Eagle (Srinath) 3; Adolfito (Shroff) 4. Won by: 1-1/4; 5-1/2; SH; (1-37.8). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 12; 17; 35; Quinella: 49; Tanala: 550. Fav: Zurbaran (9).

8. Rustomji Byramji Trophy 1,100m: (2-3-11) Teaser (J. Chinoy) 1; Anacita 2; Moment of Pleasure 3. Won by: 3/4; 1-1/4; (1-6.9). Tote: Win Rs 108; Place: 34; 16; 15; Quinella: 145; Tanala: 1,391. Fav: Anacita (3).

9. Self Reliance Plate 1,100m: (5-2-6) Stay With Me (Shelar) 1; Bearer Bond 2; Cape Merino 3. Won by: 2-1/4; Nk; (1-8). Tote: Win Rs 52; Place: 21; 23; 43; Quinella: 235; Tanala: 5,745. Fav: King’s Crest (4).

Jackpot: Rs 7,969; (C) Rs 249.

Treble: (i) Rs 335; (ii) Rs 232; (iii) Rs 1,989.

   
 

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