Dalmiya clarifies stand on Shoaib Akhtar
Sandipan scalps a GM
Sewa shocks top seed in ITF junior meet
Gurbux manager
AIFF�s borrowed glory
Selvel tame Berger Paints
Allied Forces, Super Smile impress

Calcutta, Feb. 7 
Jagmohan Dalmiya, president of the International Cricket Council (ICC), today defended his stand on tempararily lifting the ban (imposed by the ICC�s advisory panel on illegal deliveries) on Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar, and said it was more of a correction of procedural errors rather than a technical evaluation of the situation.

�I was not asked to decide whether the panel was right or wrong in its decision and nor was my decision on that,� he was quoted in a press release issued here. �What Sir Clyde Walcott, as the chairman of the panel, and I had to look into was whether the administrative procedures were correct or not,� Dalmiya clarified before leaving for Singapore. The ICC�s cricket committee (management) meets there tomorrow followed by its executive board meeting on Wednesday and Thursday.

�When Shoaib�s case was referred to us, certain shortcomings in the decision-making process were noticed and that�s why he was allowed to play,� he added.

Match Referee John Reid and umpires Darrell Hair and Peter Willey had reported that not all of Shoaib�s deliveries were affected and that only bouncers posed a problem. Since short pitched deliveries were no-balled in one-dayers, Shoaib was cleared for the tri-series.

Reacting to the criticism over Shoaib�s clearence from various quarters, the ICC president said that there has been a misunderstanding and a misconception on the stand taken by him.

Meanwhile, even as Sri Lanka backed Shoaib today, saying they wanted to face the fast bowler in the forthcoming Test series, the speedster himself was in more trouble, banned by The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) from the first one-day International for misconduct.    

Calcutta, Feb. 7 
Sandipan Chanda of Goodricke Chess Academy caused a major upset in the second round of the 11th Goodricke International Open Chess Tournament at Alekhine Chess Club today. He beat Toni Najdoski of Macedonia in 27 moves.

Former world U-10 and U-12 girls� champion Koneru Humpy got the better of the seasoned Indian IM P. Mithrakant in an interesting struggle. In other upsets, double GM norm-holder Abhijit Kunte held GM Viorel Iordaschescu while R. B. Ramesh drew with Vladimir Akopian. The experienced Indian IM K. Murugan held yet onother GM Dao Thien Hai.

World U-18 champion Aarthie Ramaswamy played yet another impressive game to get the better of IM Rahul Shetty to take her tally to 2 points.

Sandipan, playing white, opted for the closed system in reply to GM Najdoski�s (2548) Sicilian Defence. Sandipan got an overwhelming advantage from the opening and broke open Najdoski�s Kingside. In a clearly inferior position Najdoski lost out on time as he failed to make the stipulated 40 moves in two hours.

On top board GMs Ildar Ibragimov and Leonid Yurtaev drew among themsevles in a game of fluctuating fortunes which last nearly 6 hours.

Viktor Korchnoi decimated Indian GM Praveen Thipsay in just 25 moves in a Kings Indian defence. Thipsay allowed Korcnoi to set up a bind in the centre and the Queenside after which Thipsay�s pieces had little play even after the exchange of Queens.

Alexander Goloschapov (2561) of Ukraine surprizingly agreed to a draw with national champion K. Sasikiran in a mere 18 moves in the Scotch Opening. Goloschapov was on the verge of winning a piece but he probably feared Sasikiran�s resultant counterplay and signed the peace treaty.

National B champion Surya Sekhar Ganguly systematically outplayed national women�s champion S. Vijayalakshmi in a Scotch Opening. Surya sacrificed the exchange and then exploited Vijaylakshmi�s weakness on the Queenside to net the full point.

Bengal�s Suvrajit Saha took his tally to 2 points with a win over compatriot Shanker Roy.

The accelerated pairing has caused two sets of leaders to emerge. As agreed beforehand accelerated pairing will be imposed for the first 3 rounds.    

Calcutta, Feb. 7 
City youngster Vinod Sewa shocked top seed Omar Beheroozian in the first round of the ITF junior meet at the DKS courts today. On a day of upsets, second-seed P. Ravikrishna lost to P. Ravishankar and qualifier Pratim Parekh eliminated seventh seed C.S. Mohanty.

Third seed Sunil Kumar, a member of the Indian Davis Cup team, pulled out with an injury.

Dhruv Kumar, who replaced Sunil in the main draw, beat Romanian Mangiurea Radu 6-3, 6-2. Sewa, ranked 308th among juniors in the world, started well and took the first set 6-2. He raced to a 5-2 lead in the second before the player from UAE staged a recovery.

Beheroozian broke Sewa twice and was serving for the set at 6-5. But Sewa broke back and saved two set points before winning the tie-breaker 9-7.    

Calcutta, Feb. 7 
Former Olympian Gurbux Singh has been appointed manager of the senior Indian hockey squad for the Azlan Shah meet, to be held in Kuala Lumpur from February 16 to 26. Gurbux, the Bengal Hockey Assocaition (BHA) secretary, leaves for Kuala Lumpur with the squads from Delhi on Sunday.

Ramandeep Singh is the senior skipper, while Bimal Lakra will lead the junior squad.    

New Delhi, Feb. 7 
All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi held a press conference today and announced several programmes and projects for the year. All these were taken at the two-day general body meeting.

Incidentally, there was little new, and some claims thoroughly exaggerated.

The president cast aside suggestions by members that the Santosh Trophy (Thrissur) and Federation Cup (venue undecided) be shelved this year because there were no sponsors in sight and because there was no time. He promised sponsors by mid-month. The outcome, obviously, will produce two ill-managed, ill-funded affairs, quite reflecting the state of of the federation today.

That was not all. Das Munshi also hopes Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh will help in the staging of the Nehru Cup in either Indore or Bhopal this winter. The Congress connection, he believes, will work.

Honour for Manna

Sailen Manna of Mohun Bagan was chosen as Player of the Millenium. I. M. Vijayan (F.C. Kochin), was chosen Player of the Year for 1999 for scoring three goals in four matches in the Asia Cup zonal group in Abu Dhabi.

The numbers puzzle

There was uncertainty with the second division. It was not sure how many teams there will be in the league, to kick off in Raigunj, Das Munshi�s constituency, from February 20. Eighteen teams including relegated Air India and Indian Bank will compete, but Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu will be allowed to field two teams each, if they feel another club from their state is worth a try. In that case, 20 teams will take part, when there will be four groups.

The inter-state transfers are from May 1 to 15. However, as the Federation Cup final rounds is to be held in the first week of May, the transfers for the new season will only be confirmed from May 15 onwards.

The �phoren� flavour

The foreign coach issue was dealt about with elan. While one got the impression that the federation was trying to get them for the good of football in the country, it was a sham, really.

The same names that have been touted for long were released again today: Mohammed Ismail of Uzbekistan as the youth development coach and Franz Barriquand of France as national coach.

It was proudly announced that they have been sent invitations. The fact is that money from the Fifa Development Fund will be used to pay the salaries of the two coaches. Their confirmation is expected by March 2000.

If that was getting to b a bit boring, the AIFF announced the launching of �Mission of Glory� project, whatever that means, from May 2000. That is to prepare for the Afro-Asian Games, scheduled (as so many times before) in New Delhi from November 3 to 11 2001, and the 2002 World Cup qualifying rounds.

P. K. Banerjee, current national coach Sukhwinder Singh and former national coach Syed Nayeemuddin will recommend the names of 36 players for this project. By next year this list will be pruned to 26 players (if the project has survived till then, that is). The project will be headed by a technical director, most likely a foriegn coach and three Indian assistant coaches. It was not clear who will be paying for this project.

Minor glory

The country�s national soccer federation thought nothing of even tom-tomming, again, a minor deal with England-based Sapphire Enterprises, part owned by Bhaichung Bhutia. Sapphire, as wel all know, will arrange annual overseas exposure tours.

Sapphire will pay � 18,750, to be split equally in the 27-member squad, besides travel, board and lodging excpenses. The promotion company will also pay � 12,500 to the AIFF.    

Calcutta, Feb. 7 
Selvel defeated Berger Paints 2-1 in a quarter final tie of The Telegraph (loser�s) Plate in The Telegraph Merchants� Cup badminton meet at Saturday Club today.

In another match, CitiBank overcame Price Waterhouse Coopers by a similar margin.    

Calcutta, Feb. 7 
Allied Forces, Super Smile and Splendid Pride impressed when the following track-work was noted yesterday.

Outer sand track

2,000m: Audible (Kader) and Assyrian (C. Alford) in 230s; (400m) 27 4/5s. Former head better. Legal Steps (Kader) and Super Sunrise (C. Alford) in 2-41 1/5s; (400m) 29 4/5s. Former neck better.

1,600m: Allied Forces (Kader) in 1-54s; (400m) 27 1/5s. Moved well.

1,400m: Aquaria (Kader) in 1-45s; (400m) 32 2/5s. Easy. Artifact (C. Alford) and Treasurer (Kader) in 1-42s; (400m) 26 3/5s. Former 6 ls better.

1,200m: Amarante (Rb), Dizzy Diver(Surender) and Generous Present (Amil) in 1-25s; (400m) 28 3/5s. They were separated by a distance and head. Annalee (Rb) and Magnifico (C. Alford) in 1-25s; (400m) 27 2/5s. Both moved well. Adventure (C. Alford) and Alyssum (Kader) in 1-27 2/5s; (400m) 28s. Both handy. Garden Of Heaven (Saran) in 1-25 1/5s; (400m) 26 1/5s. Moved well. Allosaki (Kader) in 1-25s; (400m) 29 4/5s. Easy. Hurricane Star (Kujur) and Tabasco King (Rb) in 1-28s; (400m) 28s. Former 4 ls better. Celtic Bleu (Merchant) and Desert Force (Rutherford) in 1-24 4/5s; (400m) 27 1/5s. Both moved well. Avionic (C. Alford) and Armed Alram (M. Reuben) in 1-26 4/5s; (400m) 29 2/5s. Former 4 ls better. Endless Surprise (Kader) and Asbhury (Tamang) in 1-25 1/5s; (400m) 27 2/5s. Former one length better. Splendid Pride (Merchant) and Dominate (Gurang) in 1-23 2/5s; (400m) 26 1/5s. Former distance better. Super Smile (C. Alford) in 1-23s; (400m) 26 3/5s. Good.

1,000m: Atacada (C. Alford) in 1-9 1/5s; (400m) 25 1/5s. Moved well. Crucible (Rb) and Desert Waves (Rb) in 1-20 1/5s; (400m) 31 4/5s.

800m: Remember Me (M. Reuben) in 54 3/5s; (400m) 26 2/5s. Moved well. Cyber Freak (Rb) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Amarula (Surender) and Astoria (Amil) in 55 2/5s; (400m) 28 2/5s. Both were easy. Scarlet Radier (Rutherford) and Santillana (Merchant) in 55s; (400m) 26 2/5s. Former too note. Rock Falcon (P. Alford), Bird Empire (Merchant) and Relative Shade (gurang) in 56s; (400m) 28s. They were separated by a neck and neck. Ballot Master (Merchant) and Go With The Wind (Rutherford) in 59s; (400m) 31s. Sky Command (Manohar) and Global Harmony (Haroon) in 55s; (400m) 28s. Former head better. Opera Star (Merchant) in 55 1/5s; (400m) 27s. Easy. Sharp Sensation (Rb) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Queen�s Logic (C. Alford) and Soviet Port (Kader) in 55; (400m) 27 3/5s. Former 4 ls better. Alvarada (Amil), Astrotet (Surender) and Quizzical (Rb) in 1-0s; (400m) 28s. They were separated by a head and head. Friendly knight (Razzak and Consul�s Secret (Bird) in 55 2/5s; (400m) 26 3/5s. Former 4 ls better. Safron Rose (Rutherford), Alborada (Merchant) and Internal Affair (Gurang) in 54s; (400m) 26s. They were separated by a half-a length and distance. Anntary (M. Reuben) and Alocina (C. Alford) in 55 3/5s; (400m) 27 3/5s. Former neck better.

600m: Iron Warrior (Rb) in 40s; (400m) 25s. Good. Falconhead (Rb) in 43 4/5s; (400m) 29 4/5s.

Sand track

800m: Ring Dancer (Rutherford) in 55s; (400m) 24 4/5s. State Treasure (Merchant) in 52s; (400m) 25s. Easy. Island Empress (Som) in 57 4/5s; (400m) 29 4/5s. Remember The Day (P. Alford) and Mountain Memory (Rutherford) in 49s; (400m) 23s. Former was handy.

600m: Royal Ruler (P. Alford) and Classic Wonder (Rb) in 39s; (400m) 25s.    


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