South Africans survive late alarms
The title, with lots to spare
Nitin, Saurav in doubles semis
Powar pushes Bengal to brink
Indian Open starts today
CPT held
Mary loses with pride intact
Season restarts from March 22
�Amour� tipped
�Don� upsets

Faridabad, March 15 
INDIA 248/8 (50 OVS) S.AFRICA 251/8 (48 OVS) MoM: CRONJE

For India it was so near and yet so far. Dubious decisions against skipper Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar, some unfortunate run outs and lack of a frontline bowler in the closing overs of the South African innings, prevented a win for home team.

Finally, South Africa won by two wickets with one over to spare. They were docked an over for taking too long to bowl their alloted overs.

This is India�s third defeat in Faridabad, in four matches. They lost twice to the West Indies � by four wickets in 1988 and by 96 runs in 1994 (Kapil Dev�s last match) and now to South Africa. They won only once, against Zimbabwe, by 67 runs in 1993.

The South Africans have won both matches at this venue. In the 1996 tri-nation series, they beat Australia by two wickets.

Sachin Tendulkar almost pulled off a miraculous win for India in the 3rd one dayer of the Pepsi Cup here today.

South Africa were cruising at 204 for three and needed 45 runs for victory off 11 overs, an easy task. But then Sachin scalped three � top scorer Gary Kirsten, skipper Hansie Cronie and hard-hitter Lance Klusener. At 219 for seven, India were in with a chance. But they finished a bowler too short.

The atmosphere at the Nahar Singh Singh was frenzied. Firecrackers and needless bottle throwing accompanied practically each delivery. However, the determined South Africans prevailed. Mark Boucher, whose cameo innings guided them to victory in the first Test at Mumbai struck makeshift offspinner Rahul Dravid for a huge six over midwicket in the penultimate over to seal India�s fate.

An elated Cronje remarked: �We have got every bit of our momentum back and now want to comeback and win the series.�

Despite fears of a bouncy pitch, it was spin and flight that worked for India. Kumble, economical and penetrative, finished with two for 39.

The googly by which he bamboozled Dale Benkenstein was a beauty. But Sachin stole the show as a bowler. His tantalising flight, mixture of off breaks and leg breaks seemed to mesmerise the South Africans, especially in the closing stages of the innings.

Cronje admitted: �Sachin backs himself as a bowler against us. His deliveries tend to skid and sometimes turn hugely so it is difficult to rotate the strike against him.�

Sourav Ganguly led aggressively. His constant bowling changes put pressure on the South Africans. He is certainly a thinking captain and is not afraid to experiement. As South Africa approached the slog overs, Sourav knew that wickets were required. He gambled by bringing on Kumble for his third spell off just two overs and bowling Sachin for four overs.

Both bowlers responded. Kirsten, dropped by wicketkeeper Samir Dighe on one off Ajit Agarkar, missed his third one-day century against India by just seven runs. His responsible innings ended when he was deceived by Tendulkar�s seemingly innocuous off break which turned and kept low.

Sachin also trapped Cronje lbw and had Klusener caught at slip hitting against the spin. When Kumble finished his quota of overs, Sourav brought on Sunil Joshi. The three spinners finished their quota of overs by the 45th over.

For the remaining four overs. Sourav had to rely on Dravid�s off breaks and Agarkar but it was not enough. Sourav later said: �We had no option and had to apply pressure through our spin bowlers. Our gamble nearly came off.�

While Sachin was subdued, Sourav launched a blitzkrieg in the initial 15 overs. After ten overs, India were averaging six runs an over. Sourav changed his bat after five overs and then decimated the South African attack. He twice fluently cover drove Steve Elworthy to the boundary.

In Elworthy�s fourth over, Sourav square drove him for a six over point and then cover drove him for four. Elworthy�s opening spell read 4-0-32-0. Cronje was also lofted for two boundaries in his opening over.

Sourav�s Midas touch had a cruel end. Tamil Nadu�s umpire T.R. Kashyapan judged him caught behind of Elworthy. The ball seemed to have brushed Sourav�s hip. He later said: �I was batting fluently and we could�ve finished with 280-300 runs, which would have been a winning score.�

Sachin also got a harsh leg-before verdict from umpire Vijay Chopra off Delhi. Commentator Tony Greig called it an unlucky dismissal. From 80 for two in 15.4 overs, India slumped to 85 for three when Azharuddin�s miserable run at Faridabad continued.

In four one dayers at the Nahar Singh stadium, Azhar has scores of three, eight, one and two. The scoring rate also slumped and in five overs India added just six runs and lost the momentum.

Rahul Dravid was ultra-defensive and Jadeja also could not rotate the strike. The Indian innings revived, thanks to some quick hitting by Sunil Joshi.    

Calcutta, March 15 
Salgaocar lost the match and Mohun Bagan won the League. That, in a nutshell, was the story of the fourth National Football League today. �I am obviously very happy. Everyone aims for the title, and the one who gets there will naturally rejoice,� said Subrata Bhattacharya, the Mohun Bagan coach today.

Having taken over just before the IFA Shield, which Mohun Bagan won too, the coach took in his stride the second triumph. This, incidentally, is Mohun Bagan�s second National League title in four years.

With second-placed Salgaocar losing 0-2 to FC Kochin today, the issue of championship was sealed. Mohun Bagan have 44 points from their 20 outings, with two matches to go. Salgaocar, on the other hand have 36 from 20. So even if they win their next two, they can total only 42.

That in effect means the city giants can afford to even lose their remaining two encounters � against East Bengal and Tollygunge Agragami � and yet take the title. Churchill Brothers, are in third place at present, with 35 from 20 matches.

Mohun Bagan fans may remember this League title as a gift from Igor Shvkirin and Jose Barreto Ramirez. But Bhattacharya maintained that it was a combination of foreign and local talents that got his team the honours. �Can you dispute the contribution of someone like Basudeb Mondal?�

He added that he has been able to instil in the boys the sense that with achievement they can get their demands fulfilled.

And for legends like Sailen Manna, this achievement of his old club is naturally a matter of pride. �I have not really seen too many matches this time, but whenever Mohun Bagan wins it feels great.�

Tomorrow morning is the official flag-hoisting of the club, and the players will be felicitated on April 2.    

Calcutta, March 15 
Top seeds Nitin Kirtane and Saurav Panja swept aside Abhishek Jagnani and Ronnie Sarkar to enter the men�s doubles semi-finals of the Central Revenue Masters� tennis meet today.

Panja and Kirtane carved out a 6-3, 6-2 win against their local opponents. The second seeded pair of Vasudeva Reddy and Rishi Sridhar demolished local challengers Arka Mondal and Siddharth Verma 6-1, 6-1 in another quarter final. Third seeds S.K. Shivshankar and Anand Radhakrishnan also made it to the last eight, defeating Harshit Sharma and Ramnath Roy 6-1, 6-2.Unseeded Rajesh Vohra and Ram Kumar upset fourth seeds Rohan Bonappa and Anjan Viplav 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 to enter the semi-finals.    

Calcutta, March 15 
MUMBAI 182, 315-BENGAL 117, 67/4

Another of Ramakant Achrekar�s proteges from Shardashram High School has arrived on the scene with a bang. In only his second match, Ramesh Powar�s allround show almost ensured Bengal�s exit from this season�s Ranji Trophy at Eden Gardens today.

Powar�s superb 92 off 77 deliveries and his 104-run association for the seventh wicket with Rajesh Pawar (30) helped Mumbai set the hosts a target of 381 runs in 115 overs. The off-spinner then grabbed three vital wickets to reduce Bengal to 67 for four at stumps on the penultimate day.

Ashok Mankad feels the 21-year-old is the �find of the season� and praised his �grit and temperament�.

Incidentally, it was the Mumbai coach who had spotted Powar after he guided Mumbai City Police to victory against Shivaji Park Gymkhana in the Police Shield final last year.

To add to Bengal�s woes, unbeaten batsman Syed Saba Karim�s national call-up means his availability will only be till lunch on the final day. He is slated to take the Ahmedabad flight late afternoon.

In fact, things had not looked so bleak for Bengal in the morning session. Mumbai lost five wickets and managed only 70 runs. But the afternoon session tilted the scales in the visitors� favour.

Laxmi Ratan Shukla claimed Amit Pagnis in the eighth over of the day. Wasim Jaffer could add only nine more runs to his overnight total before falling to Vishal Yadav.

Vinod Kambli lasted 19 balls before a splendid catch from Rohan Gavaskar put paid to his hopes. Amol Muzumdar was beaten by the flight as he stepped out to Sourashis Lahiri and Saba Karim managed to take the bails off in a hurry.

Jatin Paranjpe (34) looked set for a big knock. He looked confident and was middling the ball well until Srikant Kalyani took a one-handed catch low to his right to end the essay. Paranjpe looked unhappy and it did appear that Kalyani had taken the ball one-drop.

The umpiring has not been of the best standards in this match and even Powar survived a confident bat-pad appeal when substitute Alokendu Lahiri dived in front at silly point. But Powar did not allow all that to disturb his concentration.

He dictated terms as no bowler managed to create any real impact. His knock included 14 boundaries and one six. Only after the second new ball was taken did Bengal manage the breakthrough.

Bengal started off in a flourish. Only an outright victory would have assured their passage to the next stage and in a last-ditch effort Bengal opened with Shukla (33), in the absence of an allergy-stricken Nikhil Haldipur.

He used the long handle to good effect till he scooped the ball back to Powar.

Deep Dasgupta scratched around for 48 minutes before ending his sufferings. Devang Gandhi showed a lot of promise but was adjudged leg before to Powar. Srikant Kalyani, though, was a bit unlucky in his dismissal.    

Calcutta, March 15 
The Wills Indian Open at the Signature golf course in Gurgaon will be a fight of sorts � whether the 30-month streak of no foreigners winning an APGA meet on Indian soil is broken or not. The reigning Open champion, Arjun Atwal of Calcutta, has said that it will be a fight to ensure that the streak is unbroken.

Easier said than done, though. The Open has been played over the lush green Royal Calcutta Golf Club course for the last four years, and its transfer to the picturesque Jack Nicklaus-designed course in Gurgaon will need some time getting used to from tomorrow.    

Calcutta, March 15 
CPT were held goalless by CC&FC in a first division group A tie of the BHA league today.

In group B action, Khalsa Blues beat Police AC 2-0, Aryan overcame Muslim Institute 2-1 and Punjab SC ended 0-0 with Belgachia United.    

Calcutta, March 15 
In the wee hours today, online chess again allowed a city prodigy to challenge the best in the world. Asian under-10 champion Mary Ann Gomes lost a short but interesting match to world champion Garri Kasparov. It was part of a worldwide chess meet with 30 young competitors matching wits online and offline with the master who played from New York.

Mary played at the Alekhine Chess Club and was, for the three hours of the match, logged into �room� No. 25 of the chess portal The Loreto Day School, Sealdah, student, up and steady at 2.45 am, played the Dutch Defence to Kasparov�s d4. Kasparov followed up with an off-beat Bg5 but Mary did not open her centre with the mandatory d5 which could have put the champion in big trouble.

The Goodricke National Chess Academy girl lost in 24 moves, but kept her pride intact. �Playing Kasparov was a dream come true and I hope that the preparations and the game will help me to improve in future. This experience will be invaluable as I am off to Teheran to play the Asian meet,� she said.

Before the match, Mary played two night-long demonstration Games on the same Internet portal and was on the verge of upsetting GM Boris Altermann in a match where time-pressure and inexperience made the tie go the other way.    

Calcutta, March 15 
The Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) stewards have decided to re-start the truncated winter racing from March 22, according to an RCTC press release.

The resumption of the season was announced after settlement of the new wage agreement with various unions yesterday. The revised prospectus for the remaining racing season will be issued shortly.


Outer sand track

1,400m: No Regrets (Rb) in 1-40s (400m) 30s. Good. Dominate (Gurang) in 1-55s; (400m) 32s. Swingtime (Rb) in 1-46s; (400m) 28s.

1,200m: Garden Of Heaven (Amjad K.) and Jayaashva (Razzak) in 1-23s; (400m) 28s. Former 4 ls better. Lovely Lucy (Manohar) and Aliqa (Rb) in 1-28s; (400m) 28s. Former a length better. Alborada (Merchant) and Mountain Memory (Rutherford) in 1-29s; (400m) 27s. Former 6 ls better. Too Soon To Tell (Manohar) and Cyber Freak (Rb) in 1-36s; (400m) 31s. Both level. Double Dancer (Manohar) and Field Marshall (M. Reuben) in 1-26 2/5s; (400m) 29 1/5s. Former a length better. Winning Hand (Rb) in 1-30 3/5s; (400m) 30 3/5s. Staffordshire (Akhtar) in 1-31s; (400m) 30 3/5s.

1,000m: Sky Hawk (Sher) and Global Harmony (Manohar) in 1-11s; (400m) 27 3/5s. Former a length better. Desert Force (Rutherford), Single Dawn (Merchant) and Defiance (Gurang) in 1-10 3/5s; (400m) 27 3/5s. a length and 4 ls separated them. Oriental Pride (Rutherford) and Ballot Master (Merchant) in 1-9 3/5s; (400m) 26 2/5s. Both level. Consul�s Secret (Amjad K.) in 1-15s; (400m) 29s.

800m: Quickdraw McGraw (Rutherford) in 53 2/5s; (400m) 26 2/5s. Fit. Arctic Fancy (Salim) and Relative Shade (Gurang) in 58 2/5s; (400m) 28 2/5s. Arlington (M. Reuben) in 1-2s; (400m) 30 1/5s. Rule With Honour (Akhtar) and Remember Me (Rb) in 59s; (400m) 30s. Santillana (Rutherford) and Scarlet Raider (Merchant) in 55s; (400m) 27s. Both level. Work Order (Sher) in 54 3/5s; (400m) 26s. Good. Head Hunter (Merchant) in 55 4/5s; (400m) 27 3/5s. Fit. Ardon (Rutherford), Abstone Queen (Merchant) and Rock Falcon (Gurang) in 54s; (400m) 25 4/5s. They were separated by a 3/4 ls and 4 ls. Ironstone (Locke) in 1-0s; (400m) 30s.

600m: Friendly Knight (Razzak) in 44s; (400m) 29s.

Sand track

1,200m: Classy Twist (Rb) in 1-29s; (400m) 30 4/5s. Golden Heart (Rb) in 1-27s; (400m) 26s.

800m: Heaven�s Blessing (Rb) in 53 2/5s; (400m) 25s. Easy. Software (Rb) in 51s; (400m) 23s. Moved well. Floral Path (Rb) in 55s; (400m) 24 2/5s. Rheinheart (Rb) in 57s; (400m) 27s. Time Of Times (Rutherford) and Rising Chorus (Merchant) in 57s; (400m) 26s. Both level. Prince Of War (Salim) and Noble Canonire (Gurang) in 53s; (400m) 25 1/5s. Former a length better.    

A run away winner in the lower class, Ella Mon Amour may win the 1,200m Kailshpat Singhania Stakes, the main event at the Mumbai races on Thursday. Trained by Cooji Katrak, jockey C. Rajendra will be seen in action on the Don�t Forget Me-Carhue Lady daughter.


3 pm: Ella Mon Amour 1. Noblest Motive 2.

3.30 pm: Alflora 1. Keep The Faith 2. Gasconade 3.

4 pm: Very Beautiful 1. Clear Sense 2. Elusive Charm 3.

4.30 pm: Cotopaxi 1. Days Of Glory 2. Boldwin 3.

5 pm: Soliel 1. Navroze Supreme 2. Benghazi 3.

5.30 pm: Judgement Call 1. Fortune�s Wheel 2. Sunny Sez 3.

6 pm: Prime Of Life 1. Miracle 2. Iyanah 3.

Day�s Best: Cotopaxi

Double: Soliel & Prime Of Life.    

Trained by V. Khanna and ridden by Appu, a lesser fancied Daring Don won the Aga Khan�s Trophy in Mumbai on Wednesday.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Eastern Sea Plate 1,000m: (5-4-1) Heart Beat (Rajendra) 1; Arabian Fighter 2; Total Commitment 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 2-1/2; (1-2.1). Tote: Win Rs 29; Place: 13; 57; 31; Quinella: 297; Tanala: 2,268. Fav: Heart Beat (5).

2. Sir Bruce Trophy 1,800m: (3-2-1) Favorite Trick (Shroff) 1; Mount Rose 2; Viking 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 2-3/4; (1-54.4). Tote: Win Rs 39; Place: 19; 24; Quinella: 118; Tanala: 288. Fav: Viking (1).

3. Ouborough Plate 1,400m: (2-5-7) Court Of Appeal (Prakash) 1; Sicalade 2; Dream Image 3. Won by: 4-3/4; SH; (1-27.3). Tote: Win Rs 34; Place: 16; 25; 30; Quinella: 84; Tanala: 901. Fav: Yewall (4).

4. Aga Khan�s Trophy 1,400m: (4-5-1) Daring Don (Appu) 1; Inquisition 2; Alice Charms 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 3/4; (1-28.1). Tote: Win Rs 65; Place: 26; 13; Quinella: 31; Tanala: 492. Fav: Inquisition (5).

5. Sun Rock Plate 1,200m: (8-1-9) Rich Babe (Prakash) 1; Azurica 2; Hearts In Motion 3. Won by: 1; SH; (1-14.8). Tote: Win Rs 47; Place: 17; 33; 19; Quinella: 133; Tanala: 742. Fav: Just For You (7).

6. Beyond Tomorrow Stakes 1,200m: (6-1-4) Phenom (Zakir H.) 1; Aylesfield 2; Flying High 3. Not run: Emerald Park (11). Won by: SH; Nk; (1-14.9). Tote: Win Rs 1,621; Place: 89; 14; 53; Quinella: 1,503; Tanala: 98,390 (C.o). Fav: Kisunugntly (12).

7. Billionaire Plate 1,400m: (7-10-3) Victory Flag (McCullagh) 1; Red Trident 2; Act Of Trust 3. Won by: 1-1/4; Hd; (1-28.6). Tote: Win Rs 62; Place: 25; 38; 18; Quinella: 770; Tanala: 8,323. Fav: Sea Sprite (8).

Jackpot: Rs 1,43,330 (Carried over). Treble: (i) Rs 810; (ii) Rs 63,890 (Carried over).    


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