Foreign pros in added strength
Ronny Sarkar upsets Anjan Viplav
Bengal falter after bowling out Mumbai
Brief home break for the skipper
Eden enthrals Mark Boucher

Calcutta, March 13 
The absence of Jeev Milkha Singh will be a major setback as far as the Indian challenge at Wills Indian Open is concerned, but solid international participation will see the overall standard of the meet, now in its 35th year, only improve.

According to information received here the South Africans, lead by James Kingston (fifth on the APGA Tour Order of Merit), the Taiwanese, led by Yeh Wei-Tze, the current APGA leader, and even veteran Scotsman Simon Yates (now third on the APGA Tour) will make the $ 3,00,000 event strong as any.

The venue will change things around quite a bit. For the last four years the Royal Calcutta Golf Club had virtually become the home for the meet. That had produced two champions from the city � Firoz Ali and Arjun Atwal � in quick succession. Now, with the Signature Championship Course at the Classic Golf Resort in Gurgaon ready to take on the top Indian golf tournament, there is bound to be a few surprises over the 7114-yard, par 72 course.

The March 16-19 championship will also see Prayad Markesang and Sriroj Thammanoon from Thailand, the former a 34-year0old vetearn of the Tour and also not new to the Indian Open. They will be strong challengers.

The Indian challenge could just be at a disadvantage because of the new course, especially the Calcutta pros. With the sponsors decising to make this the home for the Indian Open, though, it could fast become another happy hunting ground for Indian pros.

Also beware of Robert Huxtable, who has won an APGA title for two years in a row (1998 and 1999). He also won the Victorian Open (PGA Tour of Australia) leading from start to finish, in January. That says a lot for his current form. Among other US players in fray will be Clay Devers, an improvisor par excellence.

Enough for the Indians, 51-strong among the 156 competitors to chew on over the four days. Led by defending champion Atwal, much though will depend on the form of Jyoti Randhawa and Gaurav Ghei if a decent finish is aspired for by the home contingent.    

Calcutta, March 13 
Local boy Ronny Sarkar upset Anjan Viplav on the opening day of the Central Revenue Masters tenis tournament today.

Viplav, ranked 31st on the All India Tennis Association (AITA) list, lost 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 4-6.

In another upset, 38th ranked Siddharth Verma beat No. 24 Anand Radhakrishnan. Verma took the first set 6-1 before Radhakrishnan conceded the match because of a neck injury.

Rishi Sridhar beat Ramnath Roy 6-0, 6-2 in another match. Rohan Bopanna outclassed Harshit Sharma 6-3, 6-3.


Rishi Sridhar bt Ramnath Roy 6-0, 6-2; Ronny Sarkar bt Anjan Viplav 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-4; Rohan Bopanna bt Harshit Sharma 6-3, 6-3; Siddharth Verma bt Anand Radhakrishnan 6-1, conceded.

Bhupinder wins

Bhupinder Singh tallied 43 Stableford points to win the Bharat Petroleum Invitation golf meet at Tollygunge Club over the weekend. Rohan Ghosh and Navendu Mathur both finished with 39 points but the former was declared runner-up on the countback over the last nine holes.

Seniors� golf

Mrs R.M. Ghosh won the ladies title in the S.L. Bajoria memorial seniors� golf meet at the RCGC course yesterday.

OTHER WINNERS: 50-60 yrs: K.G. Kedia; Over-60: K.P. Kapai; Over-70: Raj Kumar.

PSCB bridge

ONGC, OIL and IBP-BL along with EIL teams were in the lead after the first session of the 20th PSCB inter-unit bridge tournament which began today.

Shakeel advances

Shakeel Ahmed beat Shahnawaz 85-26 in the Pot Black (one-frame) snooker meet today. Other winners were Shariq-ul Hassan, Islam, Akram, A. Manam, S. Roy.

Media soccer

Khabar Ekhon will meet TNA in the final of the Servo media football meet. In the semi-finals today, Khabar Ekhon beat CSJC A 4-0 while TNA overcame Pratyahik Sambad 3-1.    

Calcutta, March 13 

Bengal put themselves in an unenviable position immediately after dismissing Mumbai for just 182. Some indisciplined batting late on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy Super League tie at the Eden Gardens today, saw the home tam lose openers Nikhil Haldipur and Deep Dasgupta before Devang Gandhi and nightwatchman Vishal Yadav ensured safe passage.

In their ten-over stint, following a rain-interrupted stoppage, the hosts made 21 runs.

On a wicket where the ball is keeping low and turning, it will take loads of patience and application for the batsmen to assure Bengal five points.

Both Mumbai coach Ashok Mankad and home skipper Utpal Chatterjee felt that a decision was very much on the cards.

Deciding to bat first, Mumbai lost Wasim Jaffer and Jatin Paranjpe early, but Amit Pagnis (43 off 104 balls, 6x4) and Amol Muzumdar (34 off 88 balls, 3x4) put on a 64-run third-wicket stand. However, the session after lunch saw a dramatic turnaround in fortunes.

Mumbai lost six quick wickets before tea to plunge into deep trouble. Even the presence of Sachin Tendulkar, Ajit Agarkar and Samir Dighe in the pavilion during the pre-lunch session failed to motivate their teammates.

Pagnis, who had looked composed during his stay, edged one to first slip off Yadav. Amol left two overs later, snicking to forward short leg.

As wickets fell in a heap, Vinod Kambli tried to repair the damage. He started off in an aggressive mood, stepping out to Utpal on a couple of occasions, but later decided to play it safe.

Having survived a confident caught behind appeal off Sourashis Lahiri, Kambli was twice warned by the umpire for running onto the danger-zone of the wicket. The lefthander was forced to change his boots. He finally fell leg-before to Utpal, a decision which left him unhappy.

The last two Mumbai wickets added 43 runs, after they had crashed to 139 for eight.

Utpal (four for 48), playing with a injured right palm, was the most successful of the bowlers. He once again showed the difference his playing can make to the side. He was very positive in his tactics and made the batsman�s task difficult with the variation in flight and turn.

If Bengal do harbour any hopes of pulling off an outright win, they will need all of Utpal�s guile and experience. Lahiri also did impress with his persistent line and length.

Mankad has decided to write to the BCCI president protesting against the quality of the pitch provided for the match. �These sort of pitches will never help in improving the standard of cricket in the country. The wicket has little bounce and is very slow. It does not even aid movement,� a peeved Mankad said.    

Calcutta, March 13 
There are �advantages� when your home turf becomes the transit point. Today, Sourav Ganguly made the most of it.

The Indian captain, who flew in (from Jamshedpur) with his team early this morning, took permission to spend the night here instead of proceeding to New Delhi in the evening itself.

�I�ll only be back next month, after the Sharjah tournament... As we were passing through Calcutta, I opted to take a brief break,� Sourav told The Telegraph.

The break has definitely been well-earned and the captain leaves for the capital �- for Wednesday�s one-dayer in Faridabad �- by the first flight tomorrow.

Sourav, of course, got little rest: Calls, for instance, kept coming right through the day. In the evening, however, he ventured beyond his Behala residence to visit the home of a school pal.

�I only just learnt that his kid sister, who is six years old, is stricken with cancer. In fact, the doctors have given up hope... I went over to offer moral support. That�s the least I could do,� Sourav remarked.

Though Sourav couldn�t meet the girl, who is hospitalised, the family probably won�t forget this gesture. After all, at a time when he is really pressed, even a call would have been appreciated.    

Calcutta, March 13 
The South Africans may not be playing here this time but the players did not want to miss the unique atmosphere of the Eden Gardens.

Mark Boucher, Steve Elworthy, Pieter Strydom and Neil McKenzie � the South African team was in the city on their way to New Delhi from Jamshedpur � paid a visit to the Eden Gardens this afternoon during the Bengal-Mumbai Ranji Trophy Super League tie.

They seemed fascinated by the surroundings as they moved around the stadium. �The atmosphere here is possibly the best in the world, though, I believe, technically, MCG and the Wanderers are more advanced,� said Boucher.

The South African wicketkeeper felt that more than Sourav Ganguly�s captaincy it was the return to form of Mohammed Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja and Robin Singh that has helped India win the first two one-dayers.    


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