‘You fight your own battle’
Sarandeep to fly out as cover for injured Harbhajan
East look up at steep odds
Bagan’s Goa challenge
AIFF’s SA tour
Chandra, Advani win
Sujata in natl archery camp
Indians bag three golds

Calcutta, April 8: 
Two years after being sucked into a match-fixing scandal, Kapil Dev is “sad, not bitter” about the Manoj Prabhakar-plotted episode.

Not that anybody believed Prabhakar but, for the record, the CBI cleared the former India captain and coach of any wrongdoing.

“Life presents both roses and thorns. Today, when I look back, the World Cup win (1983) is like a bunch of roses while what happened two years ago is like…” Kapil told The Telegraph this evening, sans absolutely all emotion.

In the city for a day-long visit — the packed schedule included a tete-a-tete with Jagmohan Dalmiya, business meetings and a public appearance in the suburbs — Kapil added: “That episode is now well past… Yes, it did affect me and my family, but golf and business commitments kept me engaged.”

Surely, then, he must have learnt much during the weeks and months of torment?

“I don’t think you need to actually learn that bit but, yes, it got confirmed that you’ve got to fight your own battle… Did I feel let- down over a lack of support from past and present cricketers? Frankly, I wasn’t looking for an endorsement of any kind. So…” Kapil responded.

Incidentally, (“good friend”) Prabhakar will feature in True Story, a TV serial on Kapil to be presented by a Mumbai-based production house.

The script, interestingly, is being authored by Kapil himself.

Mujhse behtar, meri zindagi ko kaun janta hai?” he quipped, adding: “Right now, between six-eight episodes have been planned and the serial will be ready before the World Cup (February-March, next year).”

Switching to golf, his current first love, Kapil declared he is “more determined than ever” to make the Indian team. It was in these columns, five years ago, that he first talked about aspiring to be a double-International.

“To come into contention, I’ve got to play a certain number of amateur tournaments. Points accumulated is what matters, not whether a selector likes your face or not. In 2002-2003, therefore, I’ll be working towards making myself eligible.”

[An Ernie Els fan (“look, everybody admires Tiger Woods…”), Kapil lauded Arjun Atwal as being “very talented” and felt Jeev Milkha Singh was “very determined.” He himself plays off a two-three handicap.]

Speaking generally, Kapil confirmed that the Laureus World Sports Academy intends investing in a centre for excellence in hockey in Punjab.

“The centre should be beneficial for youngsters, some of whom may otherwise get interested in things they must stay away from — guns and drugs, for instance…”

Significantly, Kapil is one of just two Asians — the other being judoka Yasuhiro Yamashita — on the 40-strong star-spangled Academy.

Pele, Jack Nicklaus, Viv Richards, Sugar Ray Leonard, Franz Beckanbauer, Mark Spitz, Sebastian Coe, Martina Navratilova, Michael Jordan, Boris Becker and Edwin Moses (chairman) are among the Academy members.

Asked whether he continued to sponsor promising sportspersons in and around New Delhi, Kapil answered: “It stopped around the time of the (match-fixing) controversy… Let somebody really gifted hit the scene and I’ll think about resuming… Also, I should be ‘allowed’ to do so by the Income Tax authorities…”

Kapil, by the way, declined to comment on India’s chances in the West Indies. “I hope they win,” is all he said, adding: “I haven’t been closely following the performances and, so, won’t say more…”

It’s not just sadness. Perhaps, a touch of bitterness is there too. Of course, it’s another matter that the otherwise straight-talking icon may not admit it.


Calcutta, April 8: 
Sarandeep Singh is headed for the West Indies as a cover for the injured Harbhajan Singh. He leaves for London from New Delhi tonight and will reach Georgetown tomorrow via Barbados.

Harbhajan, who injured his right shoulder during the tour opener against Guyana XI in Georgetown yesterday, is stated to be uncertain for the opening Test, beginning Thursday.

BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya received a statement from team physio Andrew Leipus late last night which said Harbhajan “experienced an uncomfortable sensation in the right shoulder during a single hard throw from the boundary. Though he was able to bowl three overs following the incident, he felt it was best to come off the field for treatment.

“Clinical assessment of the actual pathology will be confirmed with an MRI investigation. Once an objective clinical picture is established, we will be able to provide a better prognosis, and hence, his availability for the first Test.

“He personally feels quite positive about his participation. However, he will be required to undergo a full fitness test subsequent to the outcome of the assessment,” the message said.

Since MRI facilities are unavailable in Georgetown, Harbhajan has flown to Trinidad with Leipus. Later in the day, Leipus informed Dalmiya that Harbhajan had shown some improvement.

Sarandeep was chosen by the senior selection committee through a teleconference this morning.

Agencies add: Meanwhile, Indian team manager Gautam Dasgupta said in Georgetown that “Harbhajan was absolutely sure he would be able to play… But we would have to wait till he returns from Trinidad”.

“He felt a sense of jarring in his shoulder in the dressing room,” Dasgupta said. “The discomfort persisted even when we were back in the hotel. Harbhajan was then forwarded to the physio who, after an initial examination, said he would like to have an MRI scan done.

Harbhajan has so far taken 93 wickets and was looking forward to completing 100 wickets in the first Test itself.


Calcutta, April 8: 
It’s being billed as the ‘final’ of the Duleep Trophy. An outright victory will help East Zone topple West in the champions’ race. For West, a mere three points will ensure the title.

If the teams’ showing so far in the tournament is any indication, it will need a near super human effort for East to grab eight full points from a side that is strong not only on paper but also on experience.

Moreover, while East have stuttered, West have been on a roll. Outright victories against Central and North put them on a strong platform before South managed to grab three points.

East, after an enterprising start against Central at home, had to remain satisfied with three points each from North and South.

More than the batting, it is East’s inconsistent bowling wherein the point of worry lies. But the home conditions might just act as the right catalyst.

“We are not reading too much into their reputation. It all matters on how you perform. We are aiming for an outright win,” declared East skipper Sanjay Raul.

West, on the contrary, are not willing to show any signs of complacency. “We will play for eight points though three will be enough. There will be no dearth of positive approach,” said skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar.

One pleasing aspect for Kanitkar is his batsmen have been among runs and the side has reached 400-plus scores in all the matches. The nature of the Eden wicket suggests that the batsmen will have a gala time and the bowlers can reap some benefit only in the later stages.

West, who were shifted from the hotel in Park Circus area where they were originally booked to a more upmarket hotel in central Calcutta today, were undecided on whether to play two or three spinners.

Vinod Kambli and Connor Williams are not with the squad because of illness. Ajit Agarkar — who feels to have got back his rhythm during the Zimbabwe series — and Irfan Pathan will lead the pace department.

It will also be a chance for Nayan Mongia to prove his worth yet again. “Motivation hasn’t been a problem. That I am still in the reckoning for a national call is the biggest motivation,” said Mongia.

East’s decision to exclude Prabhanjan Mallick in the last game defied logic. He is likely to replace Rajiv Raja here.


EAST ZONE (from): Sanjay Raul, Rashmi Ranjan Parida, Parag Das, Devang Gandhi, Utpal Chatterjee, Prabhanjan Mallick, Subhomoy Das, Zulfikar Zuffri, Mark Ingty, Sourashish Lahiri, Rajiv Raja, P Jayachandra, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Sanjib Sanyal.

WEST ZONE (from): Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Sairaj Bahutule, Nilesh Modi, Niranjan Godbole, Sitangshu Kotak, Kaushik Asre, Nayan Mongia, Ajith Bhoite, Ramesh Powar, Amol Muzumdar, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Lalit Patel, Siddharth Trivedi, Valmik Buch.

Umpires: Devender Sharma, B.S.P. Rao.

Match Referee: K. Devendra Kumar.

STANDINGS — West 21 points from three matches; North 18 from four; East 14 from three; South 11 from three; Central 0 from three.


Calcutta, April 8: 
Mohun Bagan leave for Goa tomorrow for their last two matches in the Tata National Football League. With 41 points from 20 matches, they head the table, but can’t afford to slip up.

Matches against local favourites Salgaocar (Thursday) and Churchill Brothers (Monday) will be tough, to say the least, and the Goans, Churchill to be precise, will also have this urge to pip Mohun Bagan at the post.

Churchill have 39 points and play HAL in a must-win match in Bangalore tomorrow. Vasco, placed third with 37, also have a thin chance and would be craving for full points when they meet ITI in tomorrow’s home engagement.

Mohun Bagan coach Subrata Bhattacharya thinks the team that handles pressure better would emerge as winner in the end. “Good football is out, for now, it’s all about being able to perform under tight situations,” he said today. “Our team has succeeded in this in the recent past. It’s different now, since the conditions are alien.” He was also worried about the refereeing.

Bhattacharya felt this has been a fiercely contested League so far, with no team certain of winning yet and just two rounds remaining. “Last time we won, we had the title sealed with two rounds to spare.”

Talking about his team’s chances, Bhattacharya said he would once again look forward to the attacking midfielders. “There has been mobility in our midfield and sufficient momentum from the flanks — especially from the wing-backs.”

For a team blessed with Jose Ramirez Barreto in the forward line, Bagan have been criticised for a sloppy defence. The coach has vehemently denied this all through and today was no different.

“Our team has conceded fewer goals than others,” he reasoned and statistically, is right. Mohun Bagan have taken in 15 goals, the least among the top-five teams.

The move to bring Debjit Ghosh back in defence from midfield has clicked and the responsibility on the skipper will be enormous in the Goa matches.

What’s bothering Bhattacharya is that eight of his players are on yellow cards, which means those booked again against Salgaocar will miss the final match. This list includes Barreto and almost all the key players in each position.

Bhattacharya seemed unruffled though. “We have the right replacements. They have done the job before and can do that again.”


Calcutta, April 8: 
The AIFF has received an offer from the England-based Sapphire Enterprise to play friendlies against Pakistan in South Africa. AIFF president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi said today the company is contractually obligated to organise one foreign trip every year.

The Union government will have to approve that proposed May tour, if held at all, Das Munshi said.


Calcutta, April 8: 
The Indian campaign in the fourth Asian U-21 snooker meet got off to a smooth start at the Calcutta Swimming Club today with top seed Manan Chandra and No. 3 Pankaj Advani posting comprehensive wins in group league matches.

City youngster Mudit Poddar wasted a golden chance to make it a perfect day for the hosts, going down 3-4 to Malaysia’s Mun Kit Thean, despite winning the first two frames.

Poddar got a chance to finish off the game in a thrilling final frame but a lapse in concentration prevented him from pocketing the final black. After trailing 19-45 in the decider, Poddar had come back to 61-62, before losing 62-69. He later lost 2-4 to Kuwait’s Mabarak Al-Owais to bow out of the meet.

In the only upset of the day, Bahrain’s Habib Sabah Mahmood beat Thai second seed Ruttanon Kematat 4-3. Kematat drew level after conceding a 1-3 lead but was outplayed 73-23 in the decider.

Chandra, arguably the most seasoned player in an inexperienced field, was ruthless against Sri Lanka’s Shanil Nethicumara and chalked out a fluent win. He won all the frames comprehensively— 99-0, 57-11, 71-5, 117-9 — and had two good breaks of 82 and 62. The former was the best of the day.

Advani took it easy against Bangladesh’s K.P.M. Arif and lost the first frame 44-58 but returned scores of 70-13, 69-7, 72-25, 95-27 after that to seal the match.

Against Thean, Poddar played a poor third frame after winning the first two and blundered a pink in the fourth to lose 53-57. He was outplayed in the fifth but won an intriguing tactical battle in the sixth.

He made a great comeback in the decider after his opponent had almost sealed it with an early break of 42 but paid for the late error. “He should have converted the black. It looked like a half-hearted attempt,” noted India coach Sanjay Sawant.


Gr A: Manan Chandra (Ind) bt Shanil Nethicumara (SL) 4-0.

Gr B: Habib Sabah Mahmood (Bah) bt Ruttanon Kematat (Tha) 4-3.

Gr C: Pankaj Advani (Ind) bt K.P.M. Arif (Ban) 4-1.

Gr D: Keem Ho Moh (Mal) bt Ahmed Saif (Qat) 4-2; Sean Z. Ang (Sin) bt Saif 4-0.

Gr E: Boon Chin Ang (Sin) bt Do-Hoon Kim (Kor) 4-0.

Gr F: Pramual Janthat (Tha) bt Young Hee Shin (Kor) 4-0.

Gr G: Junhui Ding (Chn) bt Mehedi Hasan (Ban) 4-0.

Gr H: Mun Kit Thean (Mal) bt Mudit Poddar (Ind) 4-3; Mabarak al-Owais (Kwt) bt Poddar 4-2.


Calcutta, April 8: 
Bengal’s Sujata Das and Jharkhand’s Dola Banerjee are among seven women selected for archery’s preparatory camp for the Asian Games. Selection trials were held at SAI recently.


MEN: Satyadev Prasad, Ved Kumar, Rajesh Hansdak, M.R. Tirkey, Limba Ram, Lalremsanga, Kailash, Manoj Kumar, Vishwas, Kapil, Rakesh, Shivnath Nagesia.

WOMEN: Dola Banerjee, Chekrovolu Swuro, Bansara Lin Dhar, Jhanu Hansda, Keziengunuo Thanuo, K. Bhagyavati Chanu, Sujata Das.

State chess meets

The 28th state women’s chess championship, along with the 30th state junior and 24th state sub-junior meets will be held in Khudiram Anushilan Kendra from April 17 to 24.

Eastern Railway best

Eastern Railway beat Kalyan Parishad 3-0 in the 32nd women’s state volleyball championship (clubs) in Barasat last night. They won 25-16, 25-21, 25-15. Santoshpur Unnayan Samity beat Academy for Sports and Excellence 3-2 for the third place. Thakurmani Oraon was adjudged player of the meet.

BHA League

Defending champions CESC whipped BSF South Bengal 6-0 in the first division group A action of the BHA League today. The winners led 3-0 at the breather.

Anil Ekka scored twice — both off penalty corners — while Sunil Soren, Raju Rajbhar, Cristopher Thomas and Albert Tete struck once each.

East Bengal and BNR drew 2-2. Nageshwar Rao put BNR ahead in the 18th minute. East Bengal restored parity through Ejaz Hossain and went ahead when Chittaranjan Singh struck. Nilesh Tirkey levelled for BNR in the 60th minute.


Calcutta, April 8: 
India bagged three gold medals and the second position in the team championship at the Commonwealth body building competition, which concluded at Netaji Indoor Stadium today.

Singapore bagged the team title and Malaysia finished third. Singapore also won three gold medals in the individual sections, apart from three silver and two bronze medals. Bengal’s N.S. Singh emerged best in the light middleweight category.


TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: 1. Singapore 2. India 3. Malaysia.

INDIVIDUAL EVENTS (gold winners only): Flyweight — T.V. Pauly (Ind). Lightweight: Sazali Samad (Mal). Light middleweight: N.S. Singh (Ind). Bantamweight: Dinesh Singh (Ind). Welterweight: Simon Chua (Sin). Middleweight: C.J. Phan (Sin). Heavyweight: Tong Chin Wee (Sin).


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