Kalmadi not BCCI emissary
Cedric slammed for favouritism
Mahadevan-Sunil, Sai-Radhika finals
CISF hold IA goalless
Pargat roots for astroturf
Nine-wkt win for East Bengal
Mumbai Racing/ Kraft good for Tosca Trophy
Mumbai Racing/ ‘Passion’ wins

Calcutta, March 29: 
Though IOA president Suresh Kalmadi is in Islamabad for a SAF Games-related meeting, what could make bigger headlines is his one-on-one with PCB chief Lt General Tauqir Zia this evening.

What needs to be clarified, however, is that the interaction in nearby Rawalpindi was strictly in Kalmadi’s personal capacity — not as an emissary of the BCCI.

“In the past fortnight alone, our president (Jagmohan Dalmiya) met General Zia more than once, during the ICC’s Executive Board session in Cape Town and, well, nothing new has surfaced since. Kalmadi, therefore, interacted entirely on his own initiative,” is how a senior functionary stated the BCCI’s position.

Speaking to The Telegraph late this evening, the senior functionary added: “In any case, when it comes to resumption of cricket ties, the problem is with our government. It’s New Delhi which continues to voice strong opposition… There’s no problem with the policy-makers in Islamabad. And, so, there’s little to talk in Pakistan.”

A perfectly valid point, that.

Indeed, just a few weeks ago, General Pervez Musharraf himself called for a “quick resumption.” Like his predecessors, the present Pakistani supremo is aware of the cricket-card.

India and Pakistan haven’t played each other (at the seniors’ level) after the May-June 2000 Asia Cup in Dhaka.

In the past almost two years, New Delhi has spiked one-on-ones in Toronto, India’s participation in a tri-series in Sharjah and three trips to Pakistan — for a Test series, the Asia Cup and, then, an ATC game.

There was also that firm “no” to an Indo-Pak fund-raiser in Sharjah, soon after the Gujarat earthquake, 13 months ago.

One understands, though, that Kalmadi had a meeting with Union sports minister Uma Bharti before leaving (for Islamabad) and something may have been ‘discussed’ between the two.

However, being a politician, Kalmadi is unlikely to stick his neck out if the ‘wicket’ gets dicey. Moreover, he has no locus standi where the BCCI is concerned — the Dalmiya-headed body isn’t even affiliated to the IOA. So…

Still, “if something is brewing,” as the senior BCCI functionary put it, an indication will probably be given when Dalmiya meets Bharti next week. Dalmiya, it is learnt, will “brief” Bharti on the deliberations in Cape Town. His briefing won’t be limited to the Match Referees’ Commission.

Clearly, the ICC’s sentiments on the Indo-Pak issue will also be conveyed — even the bit about England initially suggesting that all Test-playing nations boycott India till ties with Pakistan are restored.

Dalmiya, of course, had iterated the BCCI’s position: There’s no disagreement with the PCB but, yes, nothing will be encouraged without the government’s approval.

That’s the bottomline which matters.


Calcutta, March 29: 
World Cupper Lazarus Barla today slammed former national coach Cedric D’Souza with favouritism. He felt a “communication gap” between Cedric and the players was one of the factors responsible for India finishing tenth in Kuala Lumpur.

“The coach always used to favour five-six players. This was not right and used to create unnecessary pressure on the other players,” said Barla, who is in the city with Indian Airlines to participate in the Beighton Cup.

“Unlike the tenure of K. Baskaran, when the players used to move around freely, Cedric’s reign brought about a certain degree of tension. He tried to bring about the European style in the game which the players faced problems adjusting to,” he added. Barla feels that drawing with Japan in the World Cup opener came as a shock to the players. “We never thought it could happen in our wildest dreams. That added to the pressures of having to perform.”

Nevertheless, he does not support the IHF’s decision to remove Cedric midway the tournament. A view shared by IA coach and former Olympian Mervwyn Fernandes.

“The IHF’s viewpoint of ‘resting’ the coach was absolutely wrong and defies logic. After all, he is not a player. When we fared well in the Champions Challenge in Dhaka everyone spoke highly of him.

“Then when he loses three straight matches, he becomes the devil overnight. It’s disgraceful,” Fernandez said.

He feels that India had to pay dearly for the lack of proper midfielder in the World Cup. “Baljit Singh Saini and Jugraj Singh were not upto the mark. There was no one to feed the balls.”

Dilip Tirkey, another member of the Kuala Lumpur team says the inability to covert penalty corners and defensive lapses led to the poor show.

“The midfield lacked experience. Pillay should have been used in his more familiar role of centre forward than pushing him to wings.”


Calcutta, March 29: 
Two first-time finalists will vie for the Indian Oil Servo men’s national grasscourt title tomorrow. Sixth seed Manoj Mahadevan and the unseeded Sunil Kumar made the grade in contrasting manner at the sun-drenched South Club this afternoon.

The big-serving Mahadevan produced 16 aces but was still taken the full distance by circuit veteran Nitin Kirtane. Mahadevan finally came through 7-6 (7-1), 3-6, 6-3 in a tense finish after two-and-a-half hours of fluctuating fortunes.

Sunil dominated Vishal Uppal from the baseline, shutting out last year’s losing finalist 7-6 (7-1), 6-4.

The ladies’ singles final will be a replay of the 1999-2000 edition — Radhika Tulpule versus Sai Jayalakshmi.

Top seed Tulpule survived a gutsy fight from No. 4 Sheetal Goutham, winning the two-hour-10-minute battle 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. Jayalakshmi dismissed second seed Sonal Phadke 6-2, 6-4 to give herself the opportunity to avenge the defeat to Tulpule two years ago.

The focus of most eyes on a sultry day was on centre court where Sunil paraded his skills against the experienced Uppal. The 100-minute match didn’t produce any vintage grasscourt tennis, but did show why the Chandigarh-born teenager is rated so highly by Leander Paes.

For someone who will be turning 19 only next Thursday, Sunil displayed a delightful range of strokes from the back of the court — the swinging forehand crosscourt and the double-fisted backhand being the most effective. Add to these an above-average serve, and you have the recipe for an all-court performer.

Of course, there are problem areas in Sunil’s game. The level of intensity varied far too frequently, resulting in concentration lapses. And he often seemed at a loss on the big points, not sure whether to attack or play safe.

The first set didn’t produce a single break of serve, despite both players getting several chances. Uppal, playing his second tournament after a 10-month lay-off, couldn’t take any of the five break-points in Game 3. Sunil was not far behind, squandering four break-points.

Sunil, however, played a solid tie-break to go in front.

Uppal, struggling with his fitness and serve (eight double-faults bearing testimony), let a couple of close calls get to his head. He fought off two more break-points in the second set before dropping serve in Game 9. And that was all Sunil needed to ensure his maiden grasscourt nationals title-round berth.

RESULTS (All semi-finals)

MEN’S SINGLES: Sunil Kumar bt Vishal Uppal 7-6 (7-1), 6-4; Manoj Mahadevan (6) bt Nitin Kirtane (2) 7-6 (7-1), 3-6, 6-3.

LADIES’ SINGLES: Radhika Tulpule (1) bt Sheetal Goutham 4-6, 7-5, 6-4; Sai Jayalakshmi (3) bt Sonal Phadke (2) 6-2, 6-4.

MEN’S DOUBLES: Rohan Bopanna & Vijay Kannan (1) bt Mahadevan & Amod Wakalkar 6-3, 6-4; Nitin Kirtane & Saurav Panja (2) bt Uppal & S. Kumar 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1).

LADIES’ DOUBLES: Tulpule & Jayalakshmi (1) bt Shruti Dhawan & Radhika Mandke (4) 6-4, 6-2; Sheetal & Liza Pereira bt Sonal & Ankita Bhambri (3) 5-7, 6-3, 7-5.


Calcutta, March 29: 
Defending champions CISF held fancied Indian Airlines (IA) goalless in a quarter final league encounter of the Beighton Cup at the Mohun Bagan ground today.

Punjab Police, the other big gun, also had to be satisfied with a solitary point in their opening match. Army XI held them 1-1 at the CC&FC ground.

IA, fielding six World Cuppers — including two from the current batch that finished tenth in Kuala Lumpur — failed to get their act together in their tournament opener. The players, used to playing on astroturf, struggled to come to terms with the uneven natural surface.

Holding onto the ball was a major problem along with stopping and hitting, admitted coach Mervwyn Fernandes. That was the main reason why they failed to capitalise on six penalty corners.

CISF showed great spirit and enthusiasm in matching IA. In fact, they came close to scoring on a couple of occasions but goalkeeper Ashish Balal saved IA the blushes.

Cyril Ekka was the CISF livewire, often putting to shame India defenders Dilip Tirkey and Lazarus Barla with his speed and ball control.

The match was marked by frequent protests from the CISF players and coach over umpire Arup Goswami’s decisions. In one such incident late in the second half, Goswami was pushed around by the players. CISF’s Paramveer was shown the yellow card.

BHA secretary Gurbux Singh had to personally intervene to calm tempers. Amazingly, there were no policemen on duty at the ground.

There were some flashes of brilliance from the IA team. Mukesh Kumar got past a couple of defenders inside the ‘D’ with superb stickwork but his flick failed to do any damage.

At the stroke of half-time, IA’s Virender Singh failed to put the ball into an empty goal.

Punjab Police lucky

Punjab Police, boasting three India players who were part of the disastrous World Cup campaign in Kuala Lumpur, got an early goal against Army XI but were lucky to escape with a draw against Army XI.

World Cupper Kanwalpreet Singh converted Punjab Police’s second short corner with a crisp hit in the third minute.

Thereafter, the armymen took control and raided the police citadel time and again. Four minutes from half-time, Basu Horo equalised after Susan Topno controlled a Kanwalpreet mispass and produced a telling square pass.

Army XI, who earned nine short corners compared to Punjab Police’s six, would have claimed full points had Topno, Sunil Ekka and Harjit Singh not missed sitters.


Friday’s matches: BSF Jalandhar 3 (Devinder Kumar, P. Tirkey, A. Lakra) bt IHF Juniors 2 (Jeevan Singh, Amith Singh). CRPF 1 (Julian Topno) bt P&S Bank 0.

Thursday’s match: CRPF 2 (T. Kujur and V. Hanaan) bt Karnataka XI 0.


Calcutta, March 29: 
Former India captain Pargat Singh feels the Beighton Cup should be played on astroturf. And, according to him, even the players want to play on astroturf.

“Everywhere in the world, the game is being played on astroturf. Internationally, our performance will improve with more play on such synthetic surface,” Pargat, manager of title-contenders Punjab Police, said today.

“It is unfortunate that the Beighton doesn’t have astro,” Pargat regretted. That is why, he rates Punjab Police’s chances in the Beighton Cup with a mixture of confidence and caution.

Despite an unimpressive 1-1 draw with the Army XI at the CC&FC in their opener today, he was optimistic about reaching the semi-finals. In the same breath, he emphasised that nothing could be predicted on grass. “You see, anything can happen on grass. I need to treat each match with care and caution,” he said.


Calcutta, March 29: 
Subir Dey’s four-wicket haul helped East Bengal to a comfortable nine-wicket win over Eastern Railway in the A.N. Ghosh memorial meet today. In another tie, Kalighat beat NSI by seven wickets.


Eastern Railway 48 in 20.2 ovs (Diptendu Mahato 14; Subir Dey 4/4). East Bengal 51/1 in 11.5 (Wrichik Mazumder 33 n.o.). EB won by 9 wkts.

Netaji Subhas Institute 199/6 in 45 (Bhaskar Malakar 53, Aranya Deb Sarkar 40 n.o., Amit Mitra 40; Sabir Ali 3/40). Kalighat 200/3 in 35.1 (Humza Ferozie 98, Sounak Das 69 n.o.). Kalighat won by 7 wkts.


Mumbai, March 29: 
Best over a mile and beyond but ideally placed at the weights, the S. S. Shah-ward Kraft may win the 1,400m Tosca Trophy in Mumbai on Saturday.


3.30 pm: Loyal Rebel 1. California Gold 2. Adios Amigos 3.
4 pm: Star Dusk 1. Gisle 2. Premier Possession 3.
4.30 pm: Kraft 1. Idaho 2. Astor Place 3.
5 pm: Furiously 1. Josh King 2. Latest News 3.
5.30 pm: Soviet Lake 1. Heroic 2. Killarney 3.
6 pm: Lightning Arrow 1. Condor 2. Twist Afleet 3.

Day’s Best: Star Dusk

Double: Kraft & Furiously.

Mumbai, March 29: 
Trained by Imtiaz Sait, Grand Passion won the Kilshannig Plate in Mumbai on Thursday.


1. Starwit Plate 1,400m: (5-4-1) Rashomon (Chinoy) 1; Steve Tyler 2; Winning Melody 3. Won by: 7; 3/4; (1-27.7). Tote: Win Rs 7; Place: 5; 35; Forecast: 119; Quinella: 110; Tanala: 138 & 30. Fav: Rashomon (5).

2. Flying Brave Plate 1,000m: (3-4-6) Viking Victor (Gallagher) 1; Pink City 2; Red Musanda 3. Won by: 3; Nk; (1-1.6). Tote: Win Rs 6; Place: 5; 31: Forecast: 83; Quinella: 93; Tanala: 203 & 84. Fav: Viking Victor (3).

3. K. H. Irani Plate 1,600m: (5-4-2) Courtesan (Kharadi) 1; Malada 2; Royal Divine 3. Won by: Nk; 1/2; (1-41). Tote: Win Rs 25; Place: 12; 16; Forecast: 327; Quinella: 164; Tanala: 438 & 151. Fav: Royal Divine (2).

4. Rock Witness Plate 1,000m: (6-4-5) Khim (Srinath) 1; Reaching Out 2; Tio Pepe 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 1/2; (1-1.1). Tote: Win Rs 42; Place: 9; 9; 7; Forecast: 287; Quinella: 78; Tanala: 622 & 276. Fav: Cloud Nine (2).

5. Kilshannig Plate 1,600m: (5-7-4) Grand Passion (Srinath) 1; Temple Tune 2; Cagliari 3. Won by: Dist; 3-1/4; (1-39.1). Tote: Win Rs 73; Place: 10; 6; 8; Forecast: 269; Quinella: 76; Tanala: 636 & 228. Fav: Temple Tune (7).

6. G. Hall Plate 1,000m: (9-7-3) Rocks Heart (Z. Sayyed) 1; Multi Millionaire 2; Black Flacon 3. Won by: 3; 1/2; (1-1.3). Tote: Win Rs 54; Place: 14; 8; 12; Forecast: 419; Quinella: 206; Tanala: 2,800 & 1,067. Fav: Multi Millionaire (7).

7. Bergamo Plate 1,200m: (8-4-2) Foreign Connection (Ruzaan) 1; Teaser 2; Fortune’s Wheel 3. Not run: Blue Blood (6). Won by: 1-1/4; Nk; (1-13.4). Tote: Win Rs 72; Place: 11; 20; 20; 11; Forecast: 2,253; Quinella: 922; Tanala: 13,561 & 9,686. Fav: Bound By Honour (10).

Jackpot: Rs 6,59,288 (Carried over: (C) Rs 84,765.

Treble: Rs. 32,788.

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