Kapil Dev says Sachin is his No. 1 hero
Madugalle named Referee
Sulskis needs just a draw
Bopanna bows to Sunil in 2nd round
Tapan Memorial, Kalighat win
Players want new format
Calcutta Racing/ Estocade may do the trick

Calcutta, March 26: 
With his rather stunning observations on the Indian cricketers’ commitment, in London last week, icon Kapil Dev set the proverbial cat among the pigeons.

Yet, this afternoon, Asia’s first World Cup-winning captain insisted Sachin Tendulkar was “his No.1 hero.” Also, that there was no disputing the “calibre” of captain Sourav Ganguly, vice-captain Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and Jawagal Srinath.

Speaking to The Telegraph over his cellphone, Kapil specifically said: “Sachin is my No.1 hero… In fact, there’s also no denying the calibre of Sourav, Rahul, Kumble and Sri… They too are my heroes. Only, with so much class, we should be winning consistently and winning big.”

While Kapil didn’t claim he was misquoted (by a wire agency), he did maintain “not everything was filed.”

As he put it, a trifle wearily: “If only half of what I say gets reported then, well, I shouldn’t be talking at all. Perhaps, I should only speak through a column of my own… That apart, I honestly don’t find anything wrong in calling for more commitment towards winning. Theek hai na? I mean, wouldn’t you agree?”

Kapil, who was coach during much of Sachin’s second innings as captain (1999-2000) and has always been very protective about the maestro, added: “Surely, if I have my heroes, I’m also entitled to be critical when they don’t deliver in the expected manner. I know Sachin, for one, didn’t play the ODIs against Zimbabwe, but should we be happy with the 3-2 verdict?

“For that matter, should we be satisfied with the 3-3 result in the ODIs versus England? If you feel we should be, then I’ve got nothing to say… The point I made (in London, on the way back from New York) was that we can’t be hopeful of lifting the 2003 World Cup if we can’t even win handsomely at home. That, too, against Zimbabwe and…”

Getting a bit emotional, Kapil asked (typically): “If I can’t be critical, then who will? Aur kaun karega? Actually, what I intended to convey ought to be taken in the right spirit. I didn’t wish to run down our boys.”

Significantly, none of the ‘affected’ cricketers has reacted — largely because nobody was absolutely sure that Paaji’s comments weren’t taken out of context.

Meanwhile, Kapil had little to say on his role as head of the (proposed) pace bowlers’ wing at the Bangalore-located National Cricket Academy. “All I know is that an announcement was made (last November)…”

Apparently, camp No.1 — part of India’s “build-up” for the World Cup —will be organised once the Duleep Trophy gets over, in mid-April.


Calcutta, March 26: 
With just days to go for the ICC’s 13-strong Elite Panel of match officials to become operational, the first appointments have been announced.

Chief Referee Ranjan Madugalle, for example, will be the ICC’s man-on-the-spot during the forthcoming India-West Indies engagements in the Caribbean. He will be around both during the Tests and ODIs.

According to information reaching The Telegraph, Daryl Harper and Asoka De Silva will umpire in the first three Tests, while David Shepherd and Russell Tiffin will do duty in the fourth and fifth Tests.

Posting No.1 — under the new structure, that is — for Gundappa Vishwanath and Srinivas Venkatraghavan will be the April 8-17 triangular in Sharjah. Shepherd and Tiffin will be Venkat’s colleagues.

Later, Venkat will officiate in the two Zimbabwe-Australia Tests in Zimbabwe. Dave Orchard will keep him company, while Clive Lloyd will be the Match Referee.

The other appointments are:

ICC Six Nations Challenge Tournament in Namibia (April 6-15): Wasim Raja; Rudi Koertzen.

Pakistan vs New Zealand, in Pakistan: Mike Procter; Steve Bucknor and Koertzen.

Chris Kelly manager

Meanwhile, according to a Reuters report from London late last night, County umpire Chris Kelly has been appointed manager of the match officials’ panel (five Match Referees and eight umpires).


Calcutta, March 26: 
Sarunas Sulskis of Lithuania is all set to win the 13th Goodricke International Open chess tournament, being held at Gorky Sadan. With eight points to his credit and a clear lead of one point, Sulskis needs only a draw in the final round tomorrow with Alexey Kuzmin to clinch the title.

Krishnan Sasikiran of India, who is paired against Andrey Shariyazdanov of Russia is second with seven points.

With a comfortable lead, Sulskis playing against Eshan Ghaem Maghami of Iran decided to play safe and quickly accepted the draw offer of the Iranian. An exhausted Sasikiran also drew his game quickly against Drazen Sermek in 14 moves in a Giuoco Piano opening. This was Sasikiran’s first short draw in the tournament.

After the game Sasikiran told The Telegraph: “I couldn’t get anything from the opening. In fact, it was slightly inferior for me. Moreover, playing so many tournaments in a row has exhausted me. So, when my opponent offered a draw I decided to accept it.”

The final GM norm once again eluded city IM Sandipan Chanda, as he went down to GM Alexey Kuzmin of Russia in a sharp tactical battle. In the Ruy Lopez opening, Sandipan’s eighth move along h3 allowed his opponent to counter attack down the g-file which lead to his down fall.

GM Dibyendu Barua mishandled the opening in a Semi-Slav defence against GM Andrey Shariyazdanov of Russia and lost.

The highlight of the day’s play, however, was P. Mahesh Chandran’s draw with Arsen Yegiazarian of Armenia in a marathon game which lasted 58 moves.

As Mahesh Chandran was paired with a high rated player a draw was sufficient for his norm. With the draw, Mahesh Chandra has fulfilled all the requirements for the IM title. His present rating of 2436 is well above the requirement of 2400.

WIM Nisha Mohota squandered her WGM norm chances as went down to Enamul Hossain of Bangladesh in a long game. Rahul Shetty, who already had three IM norms, confirmed his fourth norm, but still has to touch the rating of 2400 to get the title.

S. Satyapragyan of Indian Airlines and Wong Zi Jing of Malaysia drew in just seven moves in a Sicilian defence. Both had confirmed their maiden IM norms yersterday.

In major upsets, though on inconsequential lower boards, S. Vikramjit Singh shocked former National champion P. Konguvel while Rahul Sangma beat WIM Swati Ghate.

TENTH ROUND RESULTS: Sarunas Sulskis (Ltu ) 8 drew Ehsan Ghaem Maghami (Irn) 6; Drazen Sermek (Slo) 6.5 drew Krishnan Sasikiran (Ind) 6.5; Alexander Motylev (Rus) 6 drew Sergei Ovsejevitsch (Ukr) 6.5; Aleksei Aleksandrov (Rus) 6 drew Ruslan Sherbakov (Rus) 6; Pavel Kotsur (Kaz) 6 drew Alexander Fominyh (Rus) 6; Sandipan Chanda (Ind) 5.5 lost to Alexey Kuzmin (Rus) 6.5; Alexander Goloshchapov (Ukr) 6 drew Maxim Sorokin (Arg) 6; Shariyazdanov Andrey (Rus) 6.5 bt Dibyendu Barua (Ind) 5.5; Arsen Yegiazarian (Arm) 6 drew P. Mahesh Chandran (Ind) 6; Bogdan Lalic (Eng) 5.5 drew Abhijit Kunte (Ind) 5.5; S. Satyapragyan (Ind) 5.5 drew Wong Zi Jing(Mas) 5.5; Yogesh Gore (Ind) 4.5 lost to Evgeny Gleizerov (Rus) 5.5; G B Prakash (Ind) 5 drew R B Ramesh (Ind) 5; Joerg Blauert (Ger) 5 drew Tejas Bakre (Ind) 5; Mohamad N Al Sayed (Qat) 4.5 lost to Lanka Ravi (Ind) 5.5; T S Ravi (Ind) 5 drew Sundararajan Kidambi (Ind) 5; Rahul Shetty (Ind) 5 drew Sriram Jha (Ind) 5; Deep Sengupta (Ind) 4 lost to Koneru Humpy (Ind) 5; Dinesh K Sharma (Ind) 5 bt V Saravanan (Ind) 4; Suvrajit Saha (Ind) 4½ drew K Visweswaran (Ind) 4½; Nisha Mohota (Ind) 3.5 lost to Enamul Hossain (Ban) 5; S Vikramjit Singh (Ind) 4.5 bt Ponnuswamy Konguvel (Ind) 3.5; Abdulla Al-Rakib (Ban) 3½ drew Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury (Ind) 4; Somak Palit (Ind) 4 drew Aarthie Ramaswamy (Ind) 4; Swathi Ghate (Ind) 3 lost to Rahul Sangma (Ind) 3.5; Saheli Dhar-Barua (Ind) 3 drew P D S Girinath (Ind) 3; Ghader Pour Shayeste (Irn) 3 bt Krishna Thapa (Nep) 2.


Calcutta, March 26: 
Top seed Rohan Bopanna crashed out of the Indian Oil Servo senior national grasscourt tennis championships at South Club today. Bopanna lost 6-3, 1-6, 4-6 to Sunil Kumar Sipaeya in a tough battle that lasted one-and-a-half hour.

“I’ve played a lot of matches over the last few days and it was extremely tiring in this hot and humid conditions,” said Bopanna after the match.

This was Bopanna’s first loss to Sunil in their five meetings so far.

“It was a matter of few crucial points in the last set. The match was never really out of my hand till the last set when the scores were tied 4-4. It is very difficult to come back in grass,” he explained.

Bopanna saved two break points in the fifth game of the first set and broke Sunil in the sixth to gain a 4-2 lead. Thereafter both players hung on to their serves.

Bopanna serving for the set sent two aces in the ninth game to take the set 6-3. In the first set, the big serving Bopanna sent down seven aces to Sunil’s two. The first serve percentage of Sunil was slightly higher at 41% to Bopanna’s 39%.

The third set went with serves till the eighth game. In the ninth game, Bopanna lost his serve. Sunil serving for the match made no mistake and booked a quarter final showdown with seventh seed Kamala Kannan.

In another upset, wild card former Davis Cupper Vishal Uppal sent fifth seed Rishi Sridhar packing 6-3, 6-1. Local challenge ended with the defeat of wild card Saurav Panja. He went down to Kannan 4-6, 6-3, 2-6.

In the women’s section, all seeds made it to the quarter finals.


Men’s singles (pre-quarter final round): Sunil Kumar bt Rohan Bopanna 3-6, 6-1, 6-4; Kamala Kannan bt Saurav Panja 6-4, 3-6, 6-2; Vinod Sridhar bt Md Yassar Arafat 6-2, 6-4; Vishal Uppal bt Rishi Sridhar 6-3, 6-1; Manoj Mahadevan bt V. Uday Reddy 6-4, 6-3; Vijay Kannan bt Abhishek Jagnani 6-2, 6-3; Punna Vishal bt Anant Sitaram 6-4, 6-4; Nitin Kirtane bt Vasudev Reddy 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.

Men’s doubles (1st round): R. Bopanna/V. Kannan bt N.Gupta/U.Reddy 6-3, 6-3; Abhishek Tamhane/Vivek Jhaveri bt A.Sitaram/N. Mishra 6-2, 6-4; V.Sridhar/V.Reddy bt S.K. Shivshankar/K. Tembe 6-3, 5-7, 6-4; M.Mahadevan/A. Wakalkar bt A.Singh/S.Mishra 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 6-4; Sunil Kumar/V.Uppal bt K.Shukla/K. Karsolia 6-3, 6-1; Rishi Sridhar/Kamala Kannan bt V.Laad/R.Gajjar 6-2, 5-7, 6-0; Punna Vishal/Anjan Viplav bt Anand Radhakrishnan/Vinod Kr Sewa 7-5, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4; Saurav Panja/Nitin Kirtane bt Ajay C.D./Md Yassar Arafat 6-3, 6-1.

Women’s singles (pre-quarter final round): Radhika Tulpule bt Priyanka Parekh 6-2, 6-3; Shruti Dhawan bt Ankita Bhambri 6-3, 6-2; Sheethal Goutham bt Jahnavi Sunderajan 6-2, 6-3; Liza Pereira bt Tanya Ahuja 6-0, 6-0; Radhika Mandke bt Oindrilla Mazumder 6-0, 6-0; Sai Jayalakshmy bt Preethi Rao 6-2, 3-6, 6-4; Archana V. bt Alice Joy 6-1, 6-2; Sonal D. Phadke bt Soma Banerjee 6-1, 6-0.

Women’s doubles (1st round): Sai Jayalakshmy/Radhika Tulpule earned a bye; Ragini Vimal/Priyanka Parekh bt Soma Banerjee/S. Kandaswamy 7-5, 6-1; Shruti Dhawan/Radhika Mandke earned a bye; Jahnavi Sunderajan/Tara S.K. bt Saima Khan/S.Punam Reddy 6-1, 6-0; Alice Joy/Vandana Murali bt Devanshi Rajgarhia/Tanya Ahuja 6-1, 6-0; Sonal Phadke/Ankita Bhambri earned a bye; Archana Venkatraman/Reedhina Parekh bt Suniti Damani/Sharmistha Chaudhuri 6-1,6-0; Sheethal Goutham/Liza Pereira earned a bye.


Calcutta, March 26: 
Tapan Memorial rode Joydeep Mukherjee’s 66 and three-wicket hauls by Vishal Yadav and Rajib Dutta to a four-wicket win over NSI in the A.N. Ghosh meet today. Kalighat beat Shyambazar by 64 runs.


NSI 189 (Bhaskar Malakar 46; Vishal Yadav 3/29, Rajib Dutta 3/40). Tapan Memorial 193/6 (Joydeep Mukherji 66). Tapan Memorial won by 4 wkts.

Kalighat 364/5 (Subhankar Das 77, Md Ziauddin 76, Sounak Das 41). Shyambazar 300/8 (Amitava Chakraborty 57, Rakesh Krishnan 51 n.o., Aditya Sengupta 51 n.o.; Subhankar Das 3/34). Kalighat won by 64 runs.

Inter-district cricket

Eight schools each from four different districts will participate in the Milo Challenge trophy, an under-16 (90-117 points) inter-district school cricket meet from April 2 to May 5.

The four participating districts are South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly.

The champion schools of each district, which will be determined after a set of knockout matches, will meet in the semi-finals followed by the final.

Das Gupta confirmed

It has been confirmed today by the BCCI that the city-based Goutam Das Gupta will be the manager for the forthcoming tour of the West Indies.


Calcutta, March 26: 
CRPF, Sikh Regimental Centre (SRC) and SAIL won their respective matches to move into the fourth round in the Beighton Cup today. All three matches were decided by the tie-breaker.

CRPF beat CESC 5-4 in tie-breaker after the scheduled time had ended 1-1. J. Toppo put CRPF in the lead and Anil Ekka restored parity in the second session for CESC.

The Tata Steel-SRC match also saw a 1-1 deadlock at the end of regulation time. Arvind Kumar scored for Tata Steel and Suman Kumar for SRC. SRC prevailed in the tiebreak 7-6.

SAIL pipped Army Signal Corps 5-4. Gurvinder Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Mahabir Singh, Satinder Singh and Gurvinder Singh were SAIL’s scorers while C.D. Thimmiah, B.J. Kariappa, Sharandeep Singh and K.B. Ganapathy struck for ASC.

In a first division group B BHA league tie, Rangers overcame Sporting Union 3-2.


Calcutta, March 26: 
The chess players’ council of India wants a change in the format of the National A championship. The proposal will be discussed at a meeting of the All India Chess Federation (AICF) here tomorrow.

Speaking on behalf of the players, GM Dibyendu Barua said the existing format was too lengthy and put the players under a lot of strain. The players suggested a Swiss League instead of the current all-play-all format.

Also, the council argued in favour of a 32-strong field in place of 20. In the current format, a player has to play 19 games and the council wants that to come down to 12 or 13.

The council suggested that all the GMs, apart from Viswanathan Anand, be given direct entries as well as the top five non-GM players along with the national junior champion and the national women’s champion. It suggested that the remaining 20 come from the National B meet.

The AICF meeting is also likely to discuss the allegedly ‘fixed’ National A tie between Surya Sekhar Ganguly and Swati Ghate.


Calcutta, March 26: 
Sitting pretty at the weights Estocade may do the trick in the 1,400m RWITC Cup tomorrow, the penultimate race-fixture of the winter season. Trained by John Stephens, the nine-year-old by Excalibur’s Lake out of Air Distingue has been maintaining form despite his advancing age. More importantly, Estocade has placed close behind winners during the season when ridden by jockeys of poor calibre. With apprentice Md Islam to guide, he not only gets further reduction in his weight but also judicious handling.

The Bookmakers’ Association Cup over 1,400m looks like a close contest among Adorer, Impressive Prince and Leading Conquest. However, going by his close third last time out, it is Impressive Prince who gets the first call. B. Prakash partners the Daniel David-trained four-year-old colt by Libor out of Magnetic.

Race card and selections

1. Romantic Eve Handicap 1,200m (Cl IV; Cl V eligible, 3-y-o only Rt 00-50) 1.05 pm: Moon Mission 60 Asghar 3; Sagittarian 53 Islam 6; Star Selection 52.5 Yasin 5; River Melody 52 Prakash 1; Annotate 50.5 C. Alford 7; Sweet Paintedlady 47 Amil 4; Moon Quest 47 Salam 2.

1. Star Selection (3) 2. River Melody (4) 3. Annotate (5)

2. King’s Counsel Handicap 1,400m (Cl V; Rt 00-28) 1.35 pm: Bay Dragon 60 Prakash 2; Blessed Spirit 59.5 I. Chisty 5; Aklovic 59 Gajender 7; Ever So Loyal 59 Islam 1; Tsaynen Blue 57.5.Smith 4; Heaven’s Blessing 56.5 A. P. Singh 8; Dictate 55.5 Amil 6; Kyalami 52.5 Brij S. 3.

1. Bay Dragon (1) 2. Aklovic (3) 3. Blessed Spirit (2)

3. Prince Blossom Handicap, Div-I 1,200m (Cl III; Rt 44-72) 2.15 pm: Sergeant Slipper 60 Gurang 4; Winning Hand 59.5 Domingo 5; Bird’s Empire 58 Prakash 8; Russian Czar 57 I. Chisty 1; Regal Rocket 56 R. Ahmed 9; Grecian Prince 54 Asghar 2; Calabash 53.5 C. Alford 6; Secret Adversary 53.5 Yasin 7; Common Spirit 52 Salam 3.

1. Calabash (7) 2. Bird’s Empire (3) 3. Common Spirit (9)

4. Bookmakers’ Association Cup 1,400m (Cl IV; Rt 22-50) 2.50 pm: Rich Dominion 60 Gurang 1; Sencai 59.5 Gowli 5; Leading Conquest 58.5 I. Chisty 11; Soviet Dance 57 V. Jaiswal 8; Black Mane 55.5 E. Smith 3; Rheinheart 55.5 Shanker 7; Adeline 55 Upadhya 2; Cosmic Flash 55 Rabani 10; Impressive Prince 54 Prakash 9; Adorer 53.5 C. Alford 6; Global Harmony 48.5 Yacoob 4.

1. Impressive Prince (9) 2. Adorer (10) 3. Leading Conquest (3)

5. Prince Blossom Handicap, Div-II 1,200m (Cl III; Rt 44-72) 3.25 pm: Peace Envoy 60 Upadhya 3; Tajik 59.5 I. Chisty 6; Gallant Romeo 58.5 Asghar 8; Sovereign Bullet 58 A. P. Singh 9; Alborada 55 Yasin 5; Lively Project 54.5 Prakash 4; Magnifico 53.5 Domingo 7; Ace of Spades 53 R. Ahmed 2; Schumacher 50.5 Salam 1.

1. Lively Project (6) 2. Tajik (2) 3. Schumacher (9)

6. RWITC Cup 1,400m (Cl I; Rt 88 and over) 4 pm: Anolini 60 Domingo 3; Earl Grey 59 Rutherford 5; Comedy of Errors 58 I. Chisty 6; Dancing Dreams 56 Gajender 4; Ballet Master 55.5 Prakash 11; Clarice Cliff 55 Rabani 10; Secret Blessing’s 54.5 Asghar 2; Gold Buck 52.5 Shanker 7; Argolis 51 A. P. Singh 9; Estocade 51 Islam 1; Amusing 50.5 Salam 8.

1. Estocade (10) 2. Gold Buck (8) 3. Comedy of Errors (3)

7. Wansfell Handicap 1,100m (Cl IV, 5-y-o & over; Rt. 22-50) 4.35 pm: Flying Scot 60 Engineer 8; Starina 59.5 Domingo 5; Auctioneer 58 Amil 7; Tequila Shot 57.5 Shanker 9; Software 56.5 M. Reuben 2; Brave Venture 56 Gurang 4; Wandering Warrior 55.5 Rabani 1; Constantine 55 E. Smith 11; Storm Centre 55 A. P. Singh 3; New Fortune 53.5 R. Ahmed 6; Simply Dashing 53 Prakash 10; Bold Apparel 52 Yasin 13; Jayaashva 52 I. Chisty 12.

1. Software (5) 2. Simply Dashing (11) 3. Jayaashva (13)

Day’s Best: Software

Double: Star Selection & Impressive Prince.

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