Brisbane lukewarm to Indo-Pak tie
Pioline sends Paes packing to enter quarters
Anup spins Tollygunge to victory
Brisbane awaits Games
Bihar victorious
Coach: Paes will never be as consistent as Ramesh
Sea Classic may win Stayers Trial
Chieftan triumphs
Amyntor, Splendid Pride impress

Brisbane, Jan. 6 
When it comes to an India versus Pakistan match, the turf in England is very different. And, privately, even Queensland Cricket (QC) officials may confess to being happy at the lack of hype ahead of Monday�s Carlton and United Series game between the two.

Till this morning, only 11,000 tickets had been sold for the 35,000 capacity Gabba. �We do expect more seats to be booked, but a full-house isn�t expected,� QC chief executive Graham Dixon told The Telegraph.

Rewind to last June and the World Cup�s Super-Six match in Manchester and we will be reminded of tickets being sold out days before that needle-game.

We will also be reminded of the extraordinary security, both before and during the match. The war in Kargil had only just begun to get bloody, but security personnel were on tenterhooks.

As it turned out, irate Pakistani fans did burn an Indian flag after the Venkatesh Prasad-inspired victory, and Kargil went on to become an even bigger story than it then was.

One fall-out, of course, was that the Atal Behari Vajpayee government didn�t clear the annual Indo-Pak shootout in Toronto.

This time, the build-up has seen relations soured over the hijacking of IC 814. As of now, though, security for Monday�s game will be the same as on Sunday, when the tri-series gets underway with the Australia versus Pakistan match.

�We�ve been in touch with the authorities and their advice for Monday hasn�t been any different... We aren�t political analysts and have left it to the experts to guide us.

�Indeed, we are happy relations between the Indian and Pakistan players are excellent and, in keeping with tradition at the refurbished Gabba, both teams will have their meals in the same dining hall,� Dixon remarked.

The QC chief executive did, however, add there would be more security personnel, on both days, as part of the �trials� for the Olympics later this year. The Gabba is to host seven soccer league games and one semi-final.

As the Gabba now has Olympic-stadium status, special observation posts for security personnel are very much in place. Clearly, security was a priority when it was being refurbished. Compared to the staid Gabba of old, the one today looks stunning.

Incidentally, QC is only a summer �tenant� at the Gabba � in winters, crack soccer outfit Brisbane Lions have it at their disposal. The Gabba is administered by the Brisbane Cricket Ground Trust, a government agency.

While the Pakistanis are already here, the Indians are expected tomorrow afternoon (from Sydney). Their arrival could lead to more seats being reserved, but even if the turnstiles aren�t exactly overworked, QC may not mind too much.

After all, given the state of Indo-Pak relations, the fewer the spectators the better.    

Chennai, Jan. 6 
Refocussing in the new year straightaway after a six-week holiday may not come easy to stars like Yevgeny Kafelnikov, but for Cedric Pioline it�s hardly a problem. The second seed at the Gold Flake Open warmed the hearts of a less-than-full Nungambakkam Stadium this evening with a high-quality exhibition which sent homegrown hero Leander Paes packing.

The tall Frenchman, one of the most elegant strokemakers in business, overcame an early hiccup before outclassing Paes 6-3, 6-4. Pioline�s quarter-final opponent will be Italian Davide Sanguinetti who knocked out eighth seed Andreas Vinciguerra 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 to leave just two seeds alive in the last eight stage.

In a well-contested match on an outside court, there was little to choose between Sanguinetti and teenaged Swede sensation Vinciguerra who jumped 541 spots last year to finish at No. 99. What made the difference in the end was the Italian�s better serving (eight aces and a first serve percentage of 60).

British qualifier Jamie Delgado, who scalped fifth seed and defending champion Byron Black, made further progress after shutting out Bulgaria�s Orlin Stanoytchev 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Delgado will now meet fourth seed Jerome Golmard who dismissed Swede Fredrik Jonsson 6-2, 6-3 in less than an hour.

A lesson for Paes

The Pioline versus Paes clash brought out the difference in class between a regular member of the top-20 club and a doubles expert who has spent no more than seven months in the top-100 of singles. Especially palpable was the comparative skills in the quality of returning.

Going into a rematch of their thrilling �97 US Open third-round clash, Pioline was weary of his Indian rival�s athleticism and quick-footedness. A trifle slow to get off the blocks, Pioline got broken in his second service game. If Paes was to give Pioline a run for his money, it was imperative for him to utilise that early advantage.

The Indian failed to do that, dropping serve in the very next game. Pioline set it up with the first of his graceful forehand service returns. On break-point, Paes followed his serve to the net only to net a low backhand volley.

That was one major problem area in Paes� game today. His volleys, particularly on the backhand side, weren�t half as sharp as they normally are. �It was tough to volley well in the windy conditions out there,� Paes said later, before adding �Pioline played very well and didn�t give me many chances.�

It was in the eighth game of the opening set that Pioline stepped on the accelerator. Two effortless service returns and a perfect lob set up break-point. An incredible half-volley pick-up sealed the crucial break to give the 30-year-old Frenchman a 5-3 advantage. With Paes failing to make any headway of Pioline�s serve, the two-time Grand Slam runner-up wrapped up the first set comfortably.

In the whole match, Paes managed no more than three decent service returns and a solitary winner from the backcourt. That was the reason Pioline was never under pressure holding serve. But for that early break against him, the Frenchman was never taken to deuce on his serve.

The Paes serve, on the contrary, was under constant scrutiny. It cracked again in Game 5 of the second set as Pioline mounted more pressure. A break down, the best Paes could do was hang on. He did that with characteristic tenacity, even saving a match-point in the ninth game. But the inevitable happened soon after, as the Indian found no way to break-back. As his lunging attempt to return a wide serve came to grief at the net, it signalled the end of Paes� tenure at the Gold Flake Open � the first time in four years that he had packed his bags with three days still remaining.

In a late doubles match last night, wild cards Saurav Panja and Prahlad Srinath beat Syed Fazaluddin and Israeli Andy Ram 6-4, 6-4 to enter the quarter finals. Mustafa Ghouse and Vishal Uppal, however, bowed 2-6, 5-7 to Ketola and Oleg Ogorodov.    

Calcutta, Jan. 6 
Former Ranji spinner Anup Das led Tollygunge Agragami to another win in the CAB senior league by knocking off five Shibpur Institute wickets at the WBG Press ground today.

Sumitro Majumder, who too has turned out for the state on the strength of his bowling, did the star turn at Rajasthan ground with a 61-ball 62 as Aryan scraped past the hosts with just one wicket to spare.    

Brisbane, Jan. 6 
If there�s an overkill of the millennium business at the airport, talk around Queensland�s capital city is largely about the Olympics later this year.

Sydney is the principal host, but Brisbane has been allotted eight soccer games, including one semi-final. The Gabba, which will stage all matches, has already undergone extensive renovation. The facelift for the city continues.

Incidentally, the Gabba will be re-laid after Monday�s India versus Pakistan game, idea being to make the turf �soccer-friendly.� The next cricket match, then, will only be next season.

Brisbane, which in recent years has been marketed as �Australia�s most liveable city,� has always attracted tourists � not least because of its proximity to the famed Gold Coast � but it�s never quite been the hottest spot.

Now, of course, many see the Olympics as a vehicle for giving the city an identity which will be the pride of every Queenslander and the envy of those from the �elite� cities. So, flyovers, broadening of roads, glitzy shopping malls... These are busy times for a lot of people.

As D-Day approaches, those in the thick of things can only get busier. A word of caution, though, for tourists whose first port of call will be Brisbane.

At the airport itself, be prepared for two unusual sights: A customs official sprinting up-and-down the arrival area with a Doberman and another mandarin quietly parking herself next to you, in the baggage collection area, with another canine on leash.

The Doberman�s brief is to detect drugs; dog No. 2 is on the Quarantine Detection staff. By the Olympics, there could be one more in the �welcoming� party.    

Midnapore, Jan. 6 
Bihar defeated Meghalaya 2-0 while the Tamil Nadu-Assam encounter ended goalless in the quarter final league of the 22nd sub-junior national football meet here today.

With seven Tata Football Academy players in their ranks, Bihar played an attacking game against Mehalaya. Opting for a 4-4-2 formation from the start, Bihar failed to dislodge the rival defence in a barren first half.

The short but sturdy hill boys from Shillong finally conceded the first goal in the 48th minute. Avinash Thapa dodged past a couple of defenders before driving home from within the penalty area following a Manabendra Burman centre from the right flank.

Meghalaya boys, however, impressed with their man-marking and good distribution. But their forwardline, consisting Desmond Kharpr, Rockus Lamare and Narlangki, lacked direction.

Trailing by a solitary goal, Meghalaya wasted a golden chance when medio R. Hauzel failed to convert a penalty.

Bihar increased the tally three minutes from close when substitute Bimal Birwa snatched a ball from Meghalaya defender T. Shullai and scored with a deft placement.    

Chennai, Jan. 6 
He owns a pair of Grand Slam doubles titles and one in mixed doubles as well. He belongs to a rare breed of Indians possessing an individual Olympic medal. He has scaled the summit of world doubles, besides having established himself as one of the most successful Davis Cuppers.

Still, there is that lurking doubt that Leander Paes is not a complete tennis player.

Lack of consistency has been Paes� biggest bane. He can beat the likes of Sergi Bruguera, Marc Rosset and Pete Sampras one week and slump to half-a-dozen successive first-round defeats thereafter. His cherished goal of breaking into the top-100 in singles was achieved in August �98 and he remained in that elite group till the first quarter of �99.

But instead of capitalising on his gains, Paes plunged to abysmal depths failing to balance his double act. From a promising No. 73, he slipped to 204 in a matter of 14 months. Two Challenger triumphs in two weeks last month enabled him to finish the year in the 140s, but the question mark lingers. Can the Indian No. 1 conquer the self-destructive streak that is threatening to wreak havoc with his singles profile?

Coach Bob Carmichael feels that the level of consistency Paes� fans are expecting from him may never materialise. �I dare say Lee�s game will always have the peaks and troughs, the ups and downs. He�ll never be as consistent or steady as a Ramesh Krishnan,� Carmichael told The Telegraph this afternoon.

The grey-haired Aussie veteran went on to explain why he suscribed to such a theory. �See, people must realise that Lee is not a smooth strokemaking machine. His game takes a lot out of his body. He competes like hell, he gives everything he has, making him injury-prone. The day he is healthy and confident, he can beat anyone. But he will also have his lows.�

Talking of the year just gone by, Carmichael described it as sensational. �Yes, his singles suffered, but you should look at the bigger picture. He and Mahesh made history. It will be difficult for them or anyone else to match four Grand Slam and world championship final appearances.�

Defending his ward�s patchy form in singles, Carmichael said it wasn�t easy for him to maintain both sides. �Some weeks, he had to play so many matches that he didn�t even have time to sleep well before catching the next flight.

Take Wimbledon, for instance. He was at the stadium till 10.30 pm on the final Sunday (playing men�s doubles final, mixed doubles semi-final and final) and had to catch an early morning flight Monday for the Newport tournament. He was very eager to attend the Champions� Ball but couldn�t go. In fact we had to grab some takeaway food for late dinner.�

A man of few words, Carmichael felt too much is being made of the Paes-Bhupathi �rift�. �Any doubles combination can have problems. The guys themselves will sort it out. And how can you question their relationship when they had such a phenomenal year?�

Refusing to be drawn into a discussion on whether it would be good for Paes and Bhupathi to share the same coach, Carmichael said it was the individual�s decision. The 56-year-old had been approached by Bhupathi in November, but nothing has been finalised following the Bangalorean�s shoulder surgery. �We�ll have to sit down and talk,� was how he evaded the subject.

Not very enthused about Paes having to change from deuce court to ad-court this year, Carmichael remarked it wouldn�t be easy. �It has to be a trial-and-error process. Could take anything between two to three months to adjust.�

Paes� future is in his own hands. But he sure is in good hands. For an instinctive player like him, the practical and disciplined Carmichael is just the right man.    

Bangalore, Jan. 6 
The Royals and Sea Classic may fight out the issue in the 2,000m Stayers Trial Stakes, a terms race tomorrow. But Sea Classic being better placed at weights C. Ruzaan is expected to guide him to victory.


2 pm: Cliff Side 1. Glass Slipper 2. Sir Winmor 3.

2.30 pm: Il Diablo 1. Refresher 2. Regal Portrait 3.

3 pm: Dunhill Star 1. River Dale 2. Lance�s Pet 3.

3.30 pm: Reigning Sword 1. Royal Birkdale 2. Pharoah 3.

4 pm: Sea Classic 1. The Royals 2. All Game 3.

4.30 pm: Arnica 1. Sibilla 2. Simple Honey 3.

5 pm: Royal Power 1. Saujas 2. Silver Hope 3.

5.30 pm: Deep Star 1. Sleek Gold 2. Tina�s Tune 3.

Day�s Best: Royal Power Double: Reigning Sword & Deep Star    

Trained by Karan Singh, the hot-favourite, Smart Chieftan won the Dawn Ramniwas Ramnarain Ruia Gold Cup in Mumbai on Thursday.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Chatterbox Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (5-8-4) Summer Of Fortytwo (M. Narredu) 1; Loyal Rebel 2; Debut 3. Won by: 2-3/4; 3-3/4; (1-13.5). Tote: Win Rs 32; Place: 15; 21; 31; Quinella: 65; Tanala: 455. Fav: Summer Of Fortytwo (5).

2. Solitary Splendour Plate, Div-I 1,400m: (7-2-4) Kahini (Bhagwat) 1; Perception 2; Numero Uno 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 2-1/4; (1-27.4). Tote: Win Rs 21; Place: 14; 24; 61; Quinella: 80; Tanala: 1,280. Fav: Kahini (7).

3. Solitary Splendour Plate, Div-II 1,400m: (6-5-3) Foretell (Rajendra) 1; Berliet 2; Gold Buck 3. Won by: 1; 3-1/4; (1-26.2). Tote: Win Rs 17; Place: 12; 22; 16; Quinella: 67; Tanala: 198. Fav: Foretell (6).

4. Fortune Hunter Plate 1,600m: (5-3-6) Squan Lake (Shroff) 1; Midnight Charm 2; Lunar Mist 3. Won by: 4; SH; (1-39). Tote: Win Rs 19; Place: 11; 26; 81; Quinella: 73; Tanala: 1,064. Fav: Squan Lake (5). (Note: There was a stewards inquiry into the running of the race).

5. Columbia Plate 1,200m: (6-10-5) Shanavi (Kamlesh) 1; Cyclonic 2; Sacred Mission 3. Won by: SH; 1-1/2; (1-13.2). Tote: Win Rs 244; Place: 32; 27; 61; Quinella: 598; Tanala: 20,965. Fav: La Primavera (13).

6. Treasure Hunt Plate 1,200m: (2-4-16) Isle Of Spice (Rajendra) 1; Mom-ent Of Truth 2; Silver Sea 3. Not run: Perfect Placement (14). Won by: 2-3/4; 4-3/4; (1-13.1). Tote: Win Rs 48; Place: 18; 28; 18; Quinella: 180; Tanala: 997. Fav: Exhilarating (9).

7. Dawn Ramniwas Ramnarain Ruia Gold Cup 2,000m: (10-9-12) Smart Chieftan (Hughes) 1; Secret Treasure 2; Viking 3. Won by: 3-3/4; 2-1/4; (2-3.8). Tote: Win Rs 12; Place: 11; 12; Quinella: 14; Tanala: 33. Fav: Smart Chieftan (10).

8. Classico Plate 1,600m: (12-2-5) Short N Sweet (Dilip) 1; Seyam 2; St Vincent 3. Won by: 4; 1-1/2; (1-41.2). Tote: Win Rs 465; Place: 50; 36; 16; Quinella: 2,480; Tanala: 49,740. Fav: Classy Missy (4).

9. Chatterbox Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (1-6-2) Dhanadal (Bhagwat) 1; Mama Mia 2; Just For You 3. Won by: 2-1/2; 2-1/4; (1-13.2). Tote: Win Rs 18; Place: 12; 16; 72; Quinella: 46; Tanala: 941. Fav: Dhanadal (1).

Jackpot: Rs 37,976; (C) Rs 4,143.

Treble: (i) Rs 77; (ii) Rs 3,549; (iii) Rs 576.    

Calcutta, Jan. 6 
Amyntor, Splendid Pride, Anytime Better and Falconhead were impressive during the work outs today.

Outer sand track

1,400m: Stringfellows (Kujur) in 1-42 3/5; (400m) 28 3/5s. Easy. Supreme Desire (Rb) and Analyzer (Tamang) in 1-46 3/5s; (400m) 32s. Both were easy.

1,200m: Falconhead (Amil) and Legal Steps (C. Alford) in 1-30s; (800m) 53s; (400m) 27s. Former 2 ls ahead.

1,000m: Silver City (C. Alford) and Aflicker (Ruzaan) in 1-12s; (400m) 29s. Former urged to finish ahead. Soviet Port (Ruzaan) and Avionic (C. Alford) in 1-11s; (400m) 27 2/5s. Former was well ahead.

800m: Alkanet (C. Alford) in 55s; (400m) 28s. Good. Consul�s Secret (Saran) in 54s; (400m) 27 2/5s. Moved well. Alameda (C. Alford) and Ashbury (Ruzaan) in 53s; (400m) 26 2/5s. Former moved well. Double Dancer (Akhtar) in 59s; (400m) 27 2/5s. Allspice (A. P. Singh) and Assyrian (Rb) in 54s; (400m) 27 3/5s. Former 2 ls better. Flaming Ferrari (Rb) and No Regrets (Akhtar) in 55s; (400m) 26 3/5s. Both were level. Amyntor (Amil) and Audible (C. Alford) 53s; (400m) 26 4/5s. Fromer finished ahead, latter was easy. Splendid Pride (Merchant) and Go With The Wind (Rutherford) in 55s; (400m) 26 3/5s. Former was 6 ls better. Soviet Sky (Ruzaan) and Gentle Priest (M. Reuben) in 55s; (400m) 27s. Former 4 ls better. Anytime Better (Amil) and Ocean Sunset (C. Alford) in 53 1/5s; (400m) 27 3/5s. Former 6 ls better. Note. Opera Star (Merchant) and Schillaci (Yadav) in 55 3/5s; (400m) 26s. Both level and moved well. Canaletto (Ruzaan) in 55s; (400m) 27s. Easy. Ring Star (Rutherford) and Relative Shade (Gurang) in 57s; (400m) 27s. Former was a distance ahead, moved well. Light Reflections (Merchant) and Prosperous (Yadav) in 54 2/5s; (400m) 26 2/5s. Former 4 ls ahead. Allosaki (C. Alford) and Astrodance (Ruzaan) in 55s; (400m) 26s. Former better. Tsavo (Ruzaan) in 1-0s; (400m) 29s. Santillana (Yadav), Rock Flacon (Rutherford) and Ballot Master (Merchant) in 56s; (400m) 28s.

600m: Aris Image (Merchant) and Saffron Rose (Rutherford) in 41s; (400m) 27s. Former 2 ls better. Bul Bul (Yacoob) in 43s; (400m) 29s.

Sand track

800m: No Surrender (Gowli) in 58 4/5s; (400m) 28s. Racing Baron (Akhtar) and Classic Wonder (Rb) in 59s; (400m) 28s. Both level. Vested Interest (Amil) in 53s; (400m) 25s. Good. Air Command (Rutherford) and Majestic Star (Gurang) in 51s; (400m) 23s. Former better. Remember The Day (Yadav) and Quickdraw McGraw (Gowli) in 49s; (400m) 23s. Former 2 ls better. Orbital Story (Gurang) and Time Of Times (Rutherford) in 58s; (400m) 25s. Both level. Chicarica (Rb) in 55s; (400m) 26s. State Treasure (Merchant) in 55s; (400m) 24s. Easy.

600m: Self Made (Salim) in 38; (400 m) 24s. Golden Express (Rb) and Mfungano (Rb) in 40s; (400m) 26s. Chief Of Staff (Rb) and Royal Ruler (Rb) in 41s; (400m) 25s. Internal Affair (Merchant) and Blushing Grenadier (Yadav) in 36s; (400m) 23s. Former a head better.

400m: Fairy Rock (Merchant) in 26s.

Gate practice

From 2,000m to 800m: Alygator (Surender), Alyssum (Rb), Magnifico (C. Alford) and Alvarada (A. P. Singh) in 1-25s. First 800m in 52 2/5s. They were separated by 1; 2; and 6 ls.    


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