Bagan eye full points
Indian Airlines overpower Army XI
Sourav delays departure
Mumbai Racing/ The Pelican romps home
Calcutta Racing/ Packed fields in Thursday card

Calcutta, March 31: 
None considered Tollygunge Agragami to be a force to reckon with when the Tata National Football League got underway. But at the home stretch of the marathon race, this non-glamour club has become an important entity.

Dangerous floaters, who have little to lose or gain anyway, Tollygunge have spoiled many parties and title-aspirants Mohun Bagan find themselves in an encouraging position following yesterday’s 2-2 draw between Tollygunge and leaders Churchill Brothers in Goa.

After that anti-climax, the race for the title has opened up once again and like in the last lap of a marathon, there is no room to take things for granted. The finishing point well in sight and among the few with any realistic chance of reaching their first is Mohun Bagan.

The former champions take on a team in tomorrow’s 19th-round clash that was very much in the hunt till the halfway stage. Things have changed since and with 27 points from 18 matches, all the Mumbai outfit Mahindra United can now hope for is a decent finish. Motivation-wise, therefore, tomorrow’s clash is not going to be one between equals but that doesn’t stop the game from being interesting, at least potentially.

With everything to play for, Mohun Bagan will try to snatch three points so that they stay close on the heels of leaders Churchill Brothers. Mohun Bagan are on 35 points — just a point behind Churchill.

“I have to take care of the pressure now. I am determined to get all the points possible from the rest of the matches, especially the ones before Churchill,” said Mohun Bagan coach Subrata Bhattacharya.

There is no injury problem in his team and there is no card concern either. All the players are charged up and keen to avenge the 0-2 defeat suffered against Mahindra in Mumbai.

Mahindra have plenty to worry about. India goalkeeper Virender Singh is uncertain and latest in the long list of injuries is midfielder Khalid Jamil. Add to this the pressure of taking on a hungry Mohun Bagan in their den and the task looks uphill.

“We are out of the race as far as the title is concerned but can still secure a decent position. That’s our motivation now and the players are determined to end on a high,” said Mahindra coach Harish Rao.

Mahindra’s away record this season, especially in Goa and Calcutta, has been dismal and that is a major reason behind their below-par showing. “We got one point from three games in Goa and yet to collect anything from two outings here. Tomorrow is our chance to salvage something from Salt Lake Stadium,” said Rao.

It will take some effort to achieve that. True, Mohun Bagan’s defence doesn’t inspire awe among many but there is a creative midfield where Basudeb Mondal, Rennedy Singh, R.P. Singh and James Singh can be quite threatening.

And then there is Jose Ramirez Barreto, who has proved time and again that he alone can be the difference between Mohun Bagan and any other Indian club. Subrata’s most precious weapon is fit as ever and buttoned up to take his team ahead.


Calcutta, March 31: 
Indian Airlines moved closer to the semi-finals and BSF, Jalandhar, booked their place there in the Servo-107th Beighton Cup hockey tournament today.

At CCFC, Indian Airlines came up with a strong second-half performance to demolish Army XI 5-0, while at Mohun Bagan ground, BSF beat CRPF 1-0.

Today’s win took Indian Airlines’ tally to four points and kept Army XI on one. In the other group, BSF moved to six points and left CRPF and Punjab and Sind Bank (PSB) on three each. All teams have completed two games each. Tomorrow’s matches will thus be crucial for PSB and CRPF.

In today’s action, Mangru Tirkey scored the all-important goal for BSF in the 64th minute. It came after a penalty corner.

The match at CCFC saw Indian Airlines off to a low-key start and their showing in the first session was quite unlike what is expected from the national champions. Their attacks were one-dimensional, mostly down the right, and with just one striker in Altaf-ur Rehman, they were often outnumbered by the Army XI defenders.

Veteran Mukesh Kumar had a bad day and it was Ravinder Singh who kept the right flank moving. Even then, most of his crosses were safely dealt with. Army XI got the chance to take the lead in the 24th minute but captain Kamal Horo failed to find the mark despite goalkeeper Ashish Ballal being not in position.

Quite against the run of play, Indian Airlines forced a penalty stroke and took the lead in the 34th minute. After being obstructed by the goalkeeper, Altaf-ur Rehman converted with a high placement to the left corner of the goal.

This opened the floodgates and it was one-way traffic in the second half. Captain Dilip Tirkey converted a penalty corner two minutes after the breather and the left flank came alive with Virender Singh beginning to move well.

Virender broke free down that side, got past a couple of defenders and cut in to score a smart third goal in the 56th minute. Tirkey converted another penalty corner seven minutes later before Altaf-ur completed the rout with a field goal in the 67th minute.

Army XI forced nine penalty corners, eight in the second half, but none of them were productive and in contrast, Indian Airlines took advantage of two of the three they forced.


Calcutta, March 31: 
Unusually, the Indian cricket team will be landing in the West Indies without captain Sourav Ganguly.

In a late decision, today, Sourav requested permission from the BCCI to join the team “after three days” on account of wife Dona being unwell.

While it’s not clear whether the BCCI formally gave permission — the city-based president, Jagmohan Dalmiya, wasn’t available for comment — fact is that Sourav did not leave for Mumbai ahead of the team’s departure from there to London en route to Guyana.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, a senior BCCI functionary did speak to Sourav and asked him to have a rethink as some quarters may make a big issue of his delayed departure.

Sourav, it is learnt, replied that he won’t be at ease till “certain tests” which Dona is to undergo in the next couple of days, are over.

That Sourav will be away for over two months is what probably made him emotional. But, then, the issue should have been better handled.

While the first of five Tests begins on April 11, the tour-opener is from April 5 itself.


Mumbai, March 31: 
Justifying his Turf Invitation Cup form, the M. K. Jadhav-trained The Pelican walked away with the McDowell Indian St Leger in Mumbai on Sunday. Y. Srinath partnered the winner.

Note: Uttam Singh and Nosher Cama announced their retirement from horse-training during a brief ceremony before the Leger was run.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Midori Plate 2,400m: (3-2-5) Rewarding King (Sunil) 1; Amaron 2; Perfect Storm 3. Won by: 3; 2-3/4; (2-34.6). Tote: Win Rs 31; Place: 15; 14; Quinella: 28; Tanala: 363. Fav: Amaron (2).

2. Bay of Treasure Plate 1,100m: (1-5-6) Alice Charms (Kharadi) 1; The Flying Star 2; Attia In Sunlight 3. Won by: 2-3/4; 1-1/4; (1-6.6). Tote: Win Rs 52; Place: 15; 46; 25; Quinella: 733; Tanala: 8,402. Fav: Reaching Out (2).

3. Jimmy Bharucha Trophy 1,400m: (7-1-8) Sky Rocket (Shroff) 1; Indian Gold 2; Sonic Symphony 3. Won by: 5; 4; (1-26.5). Tote: Win Rs 16; Place: 11; 32; 11; Quinella: 123; Tanala: 296. Fav: Sky Rocket (7).

4. Kimsel Plate 1,200m: (6-1-5) Good Thinking (I. Shaikh) 1; Crisscross 2; Cape Merino 3. Won by: 1; 3/4; (1-14.5). Tote: Win Rs 65; Place: 18; 14; 21; Quinella: 48; Tanala: 513. Fav: Crisscross (1).

5. Hyderabad Race Club Trophy 1,400m: (5-4-7) Iceberg (Kamlesh) 1; Crowning Moment 2; Star Wish 3. Won by: 1/2; 4-1/4; (1-25.2).Tote: Win Rs 18; Place: 13; 19; 15; Quinella: 75; Tanala: 207. Fav: Iceberg (5).

6. McDowell Indian St Leger 2,800m: (5-8-1-4) The Pelican (Srinath) 1; Pleasure Hunt 2; El Campe-ador 3; Royal Gladiator 4. Won by: 7; Hd; Hd; (2-57.6). Tote: Win Rs 68; Place: 20; 12; 21; Quinella: 70; Tanala: 425. Fav: Pleasure Hunt (8).

7. Aziz H. Ahmedbhoy Trophy 1,400m: (7-5-2) Angara (Shroff) 1; Bryce Canyon 2; True Thriller 3. Won by: 3-1/2; 3/4; (1-24.8). Tote: Win Rs 22; Place: 13; 17; 29; Quinella: 53; Tanala: 415. Fav: Angara (7).

8. Tribute Plate 1,600m: (5-6-7) Highland Mist (Kharadi) 1; Acacia Blossom 2; Sharpman 3. Won by: SH; SH; (1-40.5). Tote: Win Rs 34; Place: 16; 35; 33; Quinella: 258; Tanala: 2,613. Fav: Pique (2).

Jackpot: Rs 3,461; (C) Rs 456.

Treble: (i) Rs 130; (ii) Rs 116; (iii) Rs 434.


Calcutta, March 31: 
The Royal Double Cup features in the packed six-event card framed for races on Thursday, the concluding day of the winter season. First race at 1.35 pm.


1. Stand off Handicap 1,200m (Cl V, 3-y-o only Rt. 00-28) 1.35 pm: Anacott 60; Celestial Guest 60; Arian 58.5; Cupid’s Arror 58.5; Cupola 58.5; Dancing Rhythm 58.5; Primaticcio 58.5; Royal Command 58.5; Mahika’s Pet 55; Software Classic 54.

2. Largesse Handicap 1,100m (Cl III, Rt. 44-72) 2.15 pm: Lawyer’s Love 60; Sergeant Slipper 57.5; Best In Show 55.5; Queen’s Logic 55; Sovereign Bullet 55; Declarationoflove 54.5; Wakamba Warrior 53.5; Khublei 53; Common Spirit 52; Leading Conquest 49.

3. Loch Clieveden Handicap 1,200m (Cl IV, Rt. 22-50) 2.50 pm: Prince of Fashion 60.5; Tequila Shot 58; Storm Centre 57; Fly By Alibi 55.5; Rheinheart 55; Beau Bruno 54.5; Finders Keepers 54.5; Freedom Warrior 54; Wandering Warrior 54; Lady Shirley 52.5; Bay Dragon 51.5.

4. Magnanimous Cup 1,400m (Cl III, Rt. 44-72) 3.25 pm: Raring To Go 60; Kargil Soldier 56; Cool Quest 55.5; Mr. Bombshell 55; Giorgio 53.5; Lucifer 53; Regal Rocket 53; Grecian Prince 52.5; Yukon 52; Aiberni 50.5.

5. Royal Double Cup 1,400m (Cl II, Rt. 66-94) 4 pm: Argolis 60; Anokato 58; Immaculate 58; Cup of Life 57.5; Illustrious Reign 56.5; Endless Surprise 56; Revolution 56; Scarlet Raider 55.5; Sky Command 55; Arctic Fancy 54.5; Discomatic 54; Regency Times 53.5; Winning Glory 53; No Regrets 52.5; Rescue Act 49.5.

6. Favorite Handicap 1,200m (Cl V, Rt. 00-28) 4.35 pm: Asprey 60.5; Royal Ruler 60; Ever So Loyal 59; Crest Star 57.5; Global Harmony 57.5; Darth Vader 57; Floral Path 57; Tsaynen Blue 55.5; Iron Warrior 55; Heaven’s Blessing 54.5; Flinders 54; Kyalami 53; Don Vittorio 51; Keep The Faith 50.

Jackpot: 2; 3; 4; 5 & 6.

Treble: (i) 1; 2 & 3; (ii) 4; 5 & 6.


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