Dinesh likely for unfit Sehwag
East Zone push Central to the brink
Brilliant Sasikiran shocks 2nd seed
14-team league likely
Several World Cuppers set to play in city
Top seeds move easily into last 4
Calcutta Racing/ Assertive Dancer wins Grand Annual, Prakash strikes four
Mumbai Racing/ Self Styled fancied

 
 
DINESH LIKELY FOR UNFIT SEHWAG 
 
 
BY LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Calcutta, March 20: 
Till this afternoon, Dinesh Mongia was preparing to lead India A in South Africa. Now, with Virender Sehwag not fit (for the five-Test series), there’s a good chance he will head for the West Indies in the 16-strong tour party.

Contacted on his cellphone this evening, BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah confirmed that the New Delhi-based Sehwag (a Test centurion on debut), who suffered a shoulder injury during the Kotla Test against Zimbabwe, isn’t available for tomorrow’s selection.

Sehwag, of course, will be around for the five ODIs — May 25-June 2. The Tests will be played between April 11-May 22.

“I’ve received a communication from Dr Yash Gulati, wherein he has said Sehwag will be fit in a fortnight. In other words, he can’t undergo a fitness test for the next two weeks. Therefore, Sehwag won’t be considered at tomorrow’s meeting in Mumbai,” Shah informed, adding he had also “consulted” Dr Anant Joshi.

As Sehwag was an absolute certainty, his absence won’t just affect the plans of Sourav Ganguly and John Wright, the headache of chief selector Chandu Borde and his colleagues (Madanlal, Shivlal Yadav, Ashok Malhotra and Sanjay Jagdale) may get more pronounced.

According to well-placed sources of The Telegraph, Dinesh is the frontrunner to take Sehwag’s place. Also in contention are Mohammed Kaif (set for South Africa) and Yuvraj Singh. Though the selection, for now, is for the Tests only, Dinesh’s exceptional effort in Guwahati yesterday should stand him in good stead.

Pulling Dinesh out of the A squad should clear the way for Yuvraj’s second visit to South Africa this season. Back in September-October, Yuvraj was there for the tri-series.

Clearly, Sehwag’s non-availability has become the talking point, ‘eclipsing’ the debate on who should be the wicketkeeper besides Ajay Ratra. Apparently, Nayan Mongia is emerging a “strong candidate”, but it remains to be seen whether the selectors will actually recall somebody out of favour for exactly a year.

Moreover, whoever proposes veteran Nayan’s name must bear in mind that, unofficially, quite a few players have serious misgivings about sharing the dressing room with him. What could, eventually, favour the 32-year-old is his track record: Most are convinced Nayan is the best around.

However, should there be no consensus on Nayan, Deep Dasgupta will come into the frame with Mannava Sri Kanth Prasad being a “long shot”. Prasad’s last India appearance was in the Sydney Test 26 months ago. As for Deep, batting stays his USP and he can be counted upon to partner Shiv Sundar Das.

[Incidentally, both Sourav and vice-captain Rahul Dravid touched down in Calcutta this afternoon and, on arrival, had a one-on-one for five minutes. It’s possible one of them had something (more) to say about the wicketkeepers. While Sourav, a co-opted member of the selection committee, will leave for Mumbai tomorrow, Dravid took a connecting flight to Bangalore.]

Sourav and Wright probably favour picking two specialist spinners — Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh — but the selectors may insist on a third. The top reason being ‘doubts’ over Kumble’s fitness. It’s going to be a demanding trip and, significantly, a sore bowling shoulder made Kumble miss the last two ODIs of the just-concluded series.

With Murali Kartik already named in the A squad, Sarandeep Singh seems the obvious choice. If there’s a rethink, though, Sarandeep will head for South Africa.

While the selectors have a point about picking three spinners, accommodating a third will rule out the possibility of a second specialist opener. After all, the line-up will then be: Seven batsmen (including Sanjay Bangar and one specialist opener), two wicketkeepers, four quicks and the three spinners...

It’s a tricky call, really.

With so much uncertainty, the list of certainties (at the moment) is 13-strong: Sourav, Dravid, Shiv Sundar, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Bangar, Ratra, Kumble, Harbhajan, Jawagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Tinu Yohannan. Almost there is Dinesh Mongia.

   

 
 
EAST ZONE PUSH CENTRAL TO THE BRINK 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 20: 
EAST ZONE 365
CENTRAL ZONE 136/5

Gagan Khoda had rued on the eve of this match that their batting had let them down in their opening Duleep Trophy tie against West Zone in Rajkot. The script seems to be unfolding in a similar manner here too.

It was the bowlers who called the shots at Eden Gardens on Day II today. After Central dismissed East’s remaining six wickets for 104 runs, 17 minutes after lunch, the hosts reduced the visitors to 136 for five at stumps.

To be fair, batting has not been an easy task with the odd ball tending to jump or keep low. The uneven bounce of the wicket will only work to the bowlers’ advantage as the game progresses.

It will need loads of patience to stick around on this wicket and the Central batsmen failed to live up to their reputation today. Jyoti Yadav and Yere Goud were the only exceptions and Central’s chances of avoiding a first-innings deficit now hinge on the latter’s abilities.

The day, however, started well for Central. They had Deep Dasgupta caught at second slip in the fourth over of the day. He could add just three runs to his overnight 109.

Prabhanjan Mallick, who had retired yesterday with a pulled back muscle, resumed his essay but did not stay long. He slashed a Jai Prakash Yadav delivery to the fence through the slips and in trying to repeat the shot off the very next ball was caught behind.

Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Utpal Chatterjee added some useful runs. Shukla curbed hisslam-bang approach to earnhis 40 runs. He seemed aware of the circumstances and played within his limitations to produce a decent innings.

Kulamani Parida was the most successful of the Central bowlers, returning figures of four for 41. Though none is willing to go on record, not everybody is fully satisfied with the Railways off spinner’s action.

The Central innings began on a disastrous note with Gagan Khoda departing in the fourth over of the innings. Mark Julien Vernon Ingty left Khoda clueless as he knocked off his stumps with a superb incutter.

The Shillong-born young mediumpacer, who turned out for Assam in the Ranji Trophy this season, impressed with his pace and ability to extract bounce from the wicket.

A little later, Ajay Barik removed Jalani with a similar delivery. The Orissa mediumpacer, though, did not have a good spell with the new ball, struggling with his run-up and giving away 13 no balls.

Sanjay Raul’s decision to introduce Shukla as a first-change bowler seemed unjustified as the Bengal all-rounder showed more accuracy and discipline.

After Jalani’s dismissal, Jyoti Yadav and Yere Goud stitched together a 71-run stand for the third wicket. Left-hander Yadav showed a lot of application during his 96-ball knock until Sourashish Lahiri surprised him with one that jumped and took his gloves on its way to the first slip.

The off-spinner was in the thick of action again as he had Rahul Kanwat offering a dolly to forward short leg as the batsmen failed to negotiate the turn.

Sourashish, who bowled an unchanged 13-over spell, showed good control with his ability to utilise the rough in the wicket.

Jai Prakash Yadav fell under unfortunate circumstances. He square drove a short-pitched one from Utpal. As Subhamoy Das at silly point took evasive action, the ball ricocheted off his boots into Deep’s gloves.

The India wicketkeeper had a decent outing with the big gloves except when he floored a Jyoti Yadav snick to his left at the stroke of tea.

   

 
 
BRILLIANT SASIKIRAN SHOCKS 2ND SEED 
 
 
BY BIPIN SHENOY
 
Calcutta, March 20: 
It was Krishnan Sasikiran’s day all the way in the fourth round of the Goodricke International Open chess tournament at Gorky Sadan today.

Playing against Alexander Motylev, Sasikiran, once again played a brilliant game to outwit the second seed and Russian champion to stay on top with GM Sarunas Sulskis of Lithuania and Arsen Yegiazarian of Armenia on 3.5 points.

In a widely analysed variation of the Semi-Slav defence, Motylev sacrificed a piece for 3 pawns and an imposing centre. But Sasikiran kept his cool, and slowly developed all his pieces while trying to exchange a pair of rooks on the square c3. Both players followed the game Toplalov-Khalifman till the 20th move, when Motylev differed with rook c5. Sasikiran then manoeuvred his pieces with precision and cashed in on a weak move by Motylev on the 24th move. After this, Sasikiran’s extra piece decided the fate of the game.

Later, Sasikiran told The Telegraph, “I was prepared for this variation and the game was level till the 24th move when he played e4 which gave me an opportunity to blockade the position. After he played his knight to h4, his knight was stranded away from the scene of action giving me the chance to penetrate on the queenside.” When asked how he felt after beating such a strong player he was modest, “I don’t think it was special. It was just another game for me. Anyone can have a bad game and perhaps, it was not Motylev’s day today”.

On the third board, GM Sulskis launched a vigorous attack on the kingside against GM Maxim Sorokin in a Pirc defence. Sulskis sacrificed a piece to break open Sorokin’s kingside. Sorkin tried to stave off the coming storm by giving up his Queen but still could not prevent the inevitable and resigned a few moves later. GM Arsen Yegiazarian prevailed over GM Pavel Kotsur in 33 moves in a Sicilian Dragon.

Koneru Humpy scored her first win in the tournament by getting the better of national sub-junior champion Somak Palit in a Reti opening. Humpy won a pawn in the middle game which was sufficient to give her full points. After today’s win, Humpy has two points from four rounds.

Dibyendu Barua, once again performed his ‘Houdini act’ in the endgame to wriggle out with a draw from a losing position against compatriot G.B. Prakash in the Panov-Botvinnik attack. Barua’s better half Saheli Dhar Barua held the national junior boys’ champion S. Kidambi in an opposite coloured bishop ending.

Tejas Bakre of India held GM Alexey Kuzmin of Russia in the exchange variation of the Ruy Lopez opening in 23 moves. With today’s draw, Bakre has taken his score to 2.5 points and remains in contention for his third and final GM norm.

In another upset, Sriram Jha of India held the Iranian GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami to a draw in 23 moves in a Nimzo Indian defence. Mohamad N. Al Sayed of Qatar drew with the Ukranian GM Sergei Ovsejevitsch in 20 moves in a Giuoco Piano opening. The game between Alexander Goloshchapov of the Ukraine and Evgeny Gleizerov of Russia was drawn in 24 moves.

RESULTS — K. Sasikiran (3.5) bt Alexander Motylev(2.5); Alexander Goloshchapov (3) drew with Evgeny Gleizerov (3); Surunas Sulskis(3.5) bt Maxim Sorokin (2.5); Arsen Yegiazarian (3.5) bt Pavel Kotsur (2.5); Aleksei Aleksandrov (3) bt Alexander Fominyh (2.5); Tejas Bakre (2.5) drew with Alexey Kuzmin (2.5); Sandipan Chanda (2) lost to Andrey Shariyazdanov (3); Mohamad N Al Sayed (2.5) drew with Sergei Ovsejevitsch (2.5); Joerg Blauert (2.5) drew with Bogdan Lalic (2.5); Wong Zi Jing (3) bt R.B. Ramesh (2); Dibyendu Barua (2) drew with G.B. Prakash (2.5); P. Konguvel (1.5) lost to Ruslan Sherbakov (2.5); Sriram Jha (2) drew with Ehsan Ghaem Maghami (2); Abhijit Kunte (2) drew with V. Saravanan (2); P. Mahesh Chandran (1.5) lost to S. Satyapragyan (2.5); Swati Ghate (2.5) bt Abdulla Al-Rakib (1.5); Saheli Dhar Barua (2) drew with S. Kidambi (2); Sermek Drazen (2) bt Rahul Shetty (1); Koneru Humpy (2) bt Somak Palit (1); S. Vikramjit Singh (1.5) drew with Lanka Ravi (1.5); Yogesh Gore (2) got walk over against Dinesh Kr Sharma (1); Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury (1) lost to K. Visweswaran (2); T.S. Ravi (2) bt Krishna Thapa (1); Nisha Mohota (2) bt Suvrajit Saha (0.5); Rahul Sangma (0.5) lost to Enamul Hossain (1.5); Aarthie Ramaswamy (0.5) lost to P.D.S. Girinath (1); Deep Sengupta (1) bt Shayeste Ghader Pour (0).

   

 
 
14-TEAM LEAGUE LIKELY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 20: 
In a move aimed at ensuring more local clubs’ brushes with their ‘big’ counterparts, Indian Football Association (IFA) has mooted an idea of increasing the number of participants in the Super Division league.

A proposal to this effect stating that the Super Division be made into a 14-team affair, was placed on the IFA governing meeting today.

It was contended that from next year, four teams from the first division group A will be promoted to Super Division while two others will face relegation from the top-tier of the local league, making the field consist of 14 teams. In the subsequent years, teams to be promoted and relegated will be of the same number.

Meanwhile, the governing body stayed the two-year suspension meted out to Young Bengal for match-fixing in the second division league.

Young Bengal was disciplined for tanking a match against Kalighat MS in the championship play-off semi-finals.

In another development, the fifth division has been divided into two groups, one being exclusively for under-16 teams.

The period of local transfers has also been paired down to 15 days with clubs now having to sign less than 35 players during this time. This is, however, not applicable to inter-state transfers.

Blood donation

East Bengal club will organise blood donation camps at various points in and around the city on Friday in memory of its former secretary Dipak (Paltu) Das. Many former players will be present on the occasion.

   

 
 
SEVERAL WORLD CUPPERS SET TO PLAY IN CITY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 20: 
India’s encounter with the World Cup hockey last month may have ended in a whimper, but a big bang is awaiting this year’s Beighton Cup beginning tomorrow.

The meet — first domestic major after the nation’s despicable performance in Kuala Lumpur — promises to be a high-voltage affair with many a World Cupper set to ignite the city.

Indian side-backs Dilip Tirkey and Lazarus Barla of Indian Airlines and Indian captain Baljit Singh Dhillon and his brother Daljit of Punjab Police could just be the men to add an international touch to the March 21-April 4 affair, at least, as claimed by Gurbux Singh, organising secretary.

“As per my communication with Indian Airlines and Punjab Police, they are sending their top-string teams and that means, we look forward to watching a few World Cuppers here,” Gurbux said at a press conference.

Sixteen outstation teams coupled with ten local outfits will complete the field, but Singh pointed out that they could not accommodate at least half a dozen teams, despite their “keen requests”. Those, thus left out, include a junior Indian Hockey Federation outfit.

CISF and BSF, defending champions and runners-up, have been seeded along with Punjab and Sind Bank and Punjab Police, and therefore, enjoy a direct entry to the quarter finals.

National champions Indian Airlines could not be seeded because of their late confirmation. Four other teams will join the privileged quartet from a three-tier basis phases in the last eight.

This year, there will be an increase in the purse for the winners (Rs 1 lakh) and runners-up (Rs 50,000).

SAIL, Army XI, Tamil Nadu XI, Karnataka XI, UP XI, Corps of Signals, Sikh Regiment, ASC Bangalore, Tata Steel, CRPF and Pioneer Training Centre (Banglaore) are the other outstation teams.

Senior body building

About 500 participants, including Mr South Asia Prasad Kumar and WWF champion Dilip Singh, will be seen in action in the 41st senior national body building championships, to be held at Howrah indoor stadium (Doomjurtala) from Friday.

   

 
 
TOP SEEDS MOVE EASILY INTO LAST 4 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 20: 
The top four ladies’ seeds cruised into the semi-finals of the Central Excise Open tennis meet today.

Top seed Reedhina Parekh saw off Shivika Burman 6-2, 6-4. No. 2 Ragini Vimal whipped Soma Banerjee 6-1, 6-1.

Third seed Priyanka Parekh ousted Oindrilla Majumdar 6-1, 6-2, while No. 4 seed Karina Ahuja defeated Treta Bhattacharyya 6-2, 6-0.

The men’s quarter finals come off tomorrow.

   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACING/ ASSERTIVE DANCER WINS GRAND ANNUAL, PRAKASH STRIKES FOUR 
 
 
BY STAR RACER
 
Calcutta, March 20: 
Fully justifying her short odds, the Daniel David-trained filly Assertive Dancer romped home with the star juvenile event, the 1,600m Grand Annual Handicap today. Jockey Prakash Bhonsle, who partnered the Razeen Roccobarocco daughter to a shade over three-length victory, also assisted the champion trainer lead-in three more favourites to the winners’ enclosure. Argolis, Crimson King and Soviet Ride were Prakash’s other winners, after Alborada had failed to contain a late finishing Brave Show in the day’s opener.

RESULTS

1. Colorado Claro Handicap 1,600m: (4-2-7-1) Brave Show (C. Alford) 1; Alborada (Prakash) 2; Impressive Prince (R. Ahmed) 3; Scavenger’s Son (Gajender) 4. Won by: 3/4; 1-1/4; 1/2; (1-40.6). Tote: Win Rs 28; Place: 15; 18; 53; Quinella: 42; Tanala: 688. Fav: Brave Show (4). Winner trained by Bharath S.

2. Zara Shah Cup 2,000m: (3-4-5-7) Argolis (Prakash) 1; No Regrets (Gowli) 2; Alamito (C. Alford) 3; Cool Quest (Amil) 4. Won by: 3-3/4; 2-1/4; 1-1/4; (2-5.2). Tote: Win Rs 46; Place: 15; 18; 11; Quinella: 173; Tanala: 453. Fav: Alamito (5). Winner trained by Daniel D.

3. Grand Annual Handicap 1,600m: (2-1-3-4) Assertive Dancer (Prakash) 1; Royal City (Asghar) 2; Carbon Steel (Shanker) 3; Pehlvan (Rabani) 4. Won by: 3-1/4; 2-3/4; 8-3/4; (1-40.9). Tote: Win Rs 12; Place: 10; 14; Quinella: 17; Tanala: 25. Fav: Assertive Dancer (2). Winner trained by Daniel D.

4. Valamour Handicap 1,100m: (2-5-6-7) Crimson King (Prakash) 1; Winning Hand (Gowli) 2; Bird’s Empire (B. Gurang) 3; Kargil Soldier (Brij S.) 4. Won by: 2-3/4; Nk; 1-1/4; (1-5.5). Tote: Win Rs 40; Place: 18; 13; 34; Quinella: 55; Tanala: 512. Fav: Winning Hand (5). Winner trained by Daniel D.

5. Mysore Race Club Cup 1,200m: (4-8-3-7) Soviet Ride (Prakash) 1; Ballet Master (Yacoob) 2; Comedy of Errors (A. P. Singh) 3; Secret Blessing’s (Yasin) 4. Won by: 2-3/4; Hd; 1-1/4; (1-12). Tote: Win Rs 33; Place: 15; 62; 46; Quinella: 514; Tanala: 13,860. Fav: Soviet Ride (4). Winner trained by Daniel D.

6. Nikita Handicap 1,200m: (6-7-2-4) Jayaashva (Birj S.) 1; Blushing Brave (E. Smith) 2; Wild Is The Wind (C. Alford) 3; Crest Star (Yasin) 4. Won by: 4-3/4; Nk; 1/2; (1-14.8). Tote: Win Rs 63; Place: 19; 40; 17; Quinella: 529; Tanala: 4,021. Fav: Darth Vader (3). Winner trained by Jaiswal.

Jackpot: Rs 5,562; (C) Rs 133.

Treble: (i) Rs 207; (ii) Rs 1,515.
   

 
 
MUMBAI RACING/ SELF STYLED FANCIED 
 
 
BY HONKY DORY
 
Mumbai, March 20: 
Back to his class after finishing a close fifth in the C. N. Wadia Gold Cup, Self Styled may win the Radha Sigtia Trophy at the Mumbai races on Thursday. Pesi Shroff rides the Juggy Dhariwal-trainee.

SELECTIONS

3.30 pm: Northern Frontier 1. Rewarding King 2.
4 pm: Acharya 2. Rosehill Gardens 2. Reap The Bounty 3..
4.30 pm: Self Styled 1. Avantage 2.
5 pm: Goblet of Fire 1. Opener 2. I’m Honoured 3.
5.30 pm: Verzzano 1. Excelled 2. Shadow Dancing 3.
6 pm: Smart Ale 1. Colour of Joy 2. Epic Queen 3.

Day’s Best: Self Styled

Double: Verzzano & Smart Ale.

Wednesday’s Mumbai results

1. Yaffingale Plate 1,200m: (1-4-6) Duke of Albany (Rajendra) 1; Khim 2; Fast One 3. Won by: 3; SH; (1-14.6). Tote: Win Rs 6; Place: 6; 10; Forecast: 27; Quinella: 23; Tanala: 73 & 56. Fav: Duke of Albany (1).

2. Tristar Plate 1,000m: (1-3-4) King Crimson (Sunil) 1; Sky Bound 2; Swe-et Revenge 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 3/4; (1-2.1). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 8; 9; Forecast: 67; Quinella: 40; Tanala: 403 & 262. Fav: King Crimson (1).

3. Nelston Trophy 1,400m: (1-7-2) Divineintervention (Appu) 1; Forgotten Dreams 2; Music Prospector 3. Won by: Nk; Nk; (1-27.3). Tote: Win Rs 7; Place: 5; 7; 8; Forecast: 23; Quinella: 14; Tanala: 48 & 48. Fav: Divineintervention (1). (Note: Music Prospector finished second was demoted following an objection).

4. Beauty Queen Plate 1,400m: (3-6-7) Epic Queen (Sunil) 1; Swift And Silent 2; Proud Moment 3. Won by: Hd; 1-3/4; (1-29). Tote: Win Rs 52; Place: 23; 10; Forecast: 292; Quinella: 138; Tanala: 346 & 285. Fav: Swift And Silent (6).

5. Priorate Plate 1,200m: (1-6-9) Algeciras (M. Narredu) 1; Fairy Goddess 2; Ocean Stream 3. Won by: Dist; 1/2; (1-12.9). Tote: Win Rs 15; Place: 7; 23; 11; Forecast: 336; Quinella: 219; Tanala: 1,157 & 626. Fav: Algeciras (1).

6. Jayant M. Shah Plate 1,200m: (3-8-5) Auchinblae (Appu) 1; Bound By Honour 2; Shahandeh 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 4-3/4; (1-13.2). Tote: Win Rs 10; Place: 6; 11; 14; Forecast: 140; Quinella: 83; Tanala: 509 & 160. Fav: Auchinblae (3).

Jackpot: Rs 3,112; (C) Rs 545.

Treble: Rs 640.
   
 

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