Chittaranjan Locomotive Works are Group B champion
Indonesia clinch 12th title
Hemang Badani looks headed for the big league
Players welcome board move
Subhadip, Ria win double crowns

Calcutta, May 21 
As expected, Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW) Sports Association captured the BHA senior division group B league title today.

Needing just a draw against Calcutta Parsee Club to pip Aryan to the top spot, CLW cruised to a 3-0 win. CLW thus finished with 25 points � two more than Aryan.

The team from Chittaranjan, which often struggled to put together 11 players for their league matches, were again four men short today. But that didn�t deter them from dominating exchanges throughout the 70-minute duel.

CLW squandered a couple of chances before Anmol Toppo opened the scoring 25 minutes into the game. Five minutes later, Eric Lakra doubled the lead and CLW went into the breather with a comfortable 2-0 advantage.

Lakra got his second goal 19 minutes into the second session to complete a memorable victory for CLW. This is the first time they will play in the premier division of the local hockey league.

The second division relegation round clash between Hockey Training Centre (Howrah) and Kalyangarh BH was a non-starter as the latter did not turn up at the BHA ground. Kalyangarh, thus, will feature in division III next season though the BHA league sub-committee will have to make a formal announcement to that effect.

Calcutta Police entered the semi-finals of the Lakshmibilash Cup, beating Khalsa Model Senior Secondary School 2-0.    

Kuala Lumpur, May 21 
Indonesia did it again. The Thomas Cup champions retained the crown in style, hammering China 3-0 in just over three hours to win the title for a record 12th time.

China, looking for their first title in ten years, surrendered without much of a fight as the Indonesians confirmed their class and authority.

World No. 2 Hendrawan started the rout, beating Xia Xuenze 11-15, 15-7, 15-9. The first doubles lasted a mere 23 minutes as Rexy Mainaky and Tony Gunawan trounced Yu Jinahna and Chen Qiqui 15-9, 15-2 before 19-year-old Taufique Hidayat sealed the title with a 15-9, 17-14 win over Ji Xinpeng.

The king of Malaysia handed over the Cup to the Indonesians who first kissed the ground and then thanked the almighty. But if they really wanted to thank somebody it had to be Taufique who won the crucial third match without faltering at any stage.

�This boy, along with Denmark�s Peter Gade Christensen, will rule the singles event in the year to come,� said former great Rudy Hartono. �This will be a rivalry worth watching, almost like the one between me and Svend Pri (Denmark),� he said.

Hendrawan, who played the second singles in the 1998 final when Indonesia beat Malaysia in Hong Kong, was the first choice this time around. The Indonesian has been in terrific form this year and barring the semi-final setback against Christensen, has been unbeaten in this edition of the meet.

The final was no different as he toyed with the All England champion in the second and third games. Xuenze won the first game 15-11 as Hendrawan took some time to settle down at the jam-packed Putra stadium. But the Indonesian regained touch soon and avenged his All England semi-final loss in great style.

�I have never beaten him before. I lost to him in our two earlier meetings. I am speechless now that I have beaten him in a match which mattered most in my life,� said the 28-year-old.

Hendrawan won the second and third games easily though Xuenze did promise a fight in the decider but lost steam after 7-all. Hendrawan showed much better control.

The first doubles was virtually over even before the start and was totally one-sided. �Our first doubles has been consistent right through and we have never lost. This was no surprise therefore. I think we were the most balanced side in the world when we came in and we have proved that today,� said chief coach Christian Hadinata, a former world doubles champion.

Of course, Hadinata had to thank the youngest player in the championship, Taufique, for giving the crucial edge. He was in great touch and was leading 13-10 in the decider before Xinpeng battled his way to 13-13. But Taufique stayed calm and settled the issue.

The semi-final was no doubt a nightmare for the Indonesians as the Danes fought to the bitter end. But today there was no doubt about who the boss was. China�s chief coach Li Yong Bo felt a line call went against Xuenze in the first game and a close net shot by Hendrawan did seem to be out at 13-9 but such things happen and the Chinese player was warned for improper behaviour.

The Chinese coach said those controversial calls could have changed the complexion of the first match but admitted that the Indonesians were too strong in doubles and Taufique delivered when it mattered.    

Pune, May 21 
Twelve of the 14 who will head for the Asia Cup�s latest (and delayed) edition, in Dhaka from next Sunday, appear to select themselves automatically. The debate � actually, bargaining � therefore is only over two slots: Batsman No. 7 and who will wear the big gloves.

According to The Telegraph�s sources, Tamil Nadu�s Hemang Badani has established himself as frontrunner for �disputed� slot No. 1, while Syed Saba Karim could retain the wicketkeeper�s berth, edging out Nayan Mongia.

The selection is here tomorrow.

By all accounts it will be a close call for Saba Karim (or Mongia), but indications are Badani is just hours from his maiden (senior) India call-up. Nobody has ever doubted his talent. Additionally, during the on-going conditioning camp, Badani has bowled over everybody with his attitude as well.

In particular, Badani has more than just impressed coach Kapil Dev and Pune-based chief selector Chandu Borde. Such strong backing should convince captain Sourav Ganguly � who has arrived in Mumbai and will reach here in the morning � that Badani could well be a fruitful investment.

However, that will come as bad news for both young S.Sriram and veteran Vinod Kambli. They, too, are in the running for the only batting slot for grabs.

The batsmen who select themselves straightaway are: Sourav, Sachin Tendulkar, Mohammed Azharuddin, Rahul Dravid, Ajay Jadeja and Robin Singh. The latter, of course, qualifies as an allrounder but is counted as a batsman in the one-day context.

There have been whispers not everybody is pleased with Dravid�s strike-rate, but it�s highly unlikely the India vice-captain will be dumped, certainly not when he has run into form at Kent.

There has also been talk Kent may not release Dravid but Board secretary Jaywant Lele, contacted in Vadodara this evening, confirmed he �is available� for selection. Sourav, speaking exclusively from Mumbai, said much the same thing. If anything the captain, who has himself been released by Lancashire, was even more emphatic.

As it turns out, the bowlers seem to pick themselves. It�s not that we have a problem of plenty, but with absolutely nobody pushing anybody, the selectors won�t exactly have to discuss the pros and cons in detail.

Indications are three seamers and an equal number of spinners will make the cut. Strongly tipped in the first category are Ajit Agarkar, Thiru Kumaran and Amit Bhandari, while Anil Kumble (doing duty at Leicestershire), Sunil Joshi and Nikhil Chopra should be the �chosen� spinners.

Incidentally, the under-15 World Cup-winning captain Reetinder Singh Sodhi is the dark horse. �He�s not the most gifted around, yet his attitude is exemplary. Problem is where to fit him?� remarked a well-placed source.

It�s a point to be noted but, if we are looking to the future, specially the 2003 World Cup, the Sodhis should begin to learn their first big league-lessons now itself.

Meanwhile, the conditioning camp ends tomorrow (two days ahead of schedule) and the team will assemble in New Delhi before flying to Dhaka in exactly a week�s time. India�s first match, against Bangladesh, is on May 30.

LIKELY XIV Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Mohammed Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja, Robin Singh, Hemang Badani, Syed Saba Karim, Anil Kumble, Sunil Joshi, Nikhil Chopra, Ajit Agarkar, Thiru Kumaran and Amit Bhandari. Dark horse: Reetinder Singh Sodhi.    

Pune, May 21 
Existing and potential sponsors need not, after all, worry too much about cricket plunging on the popularity scale. Not after what was witnessed at the chic Poona Club this morning.

While Club members jostled for standing space within the neatly laid-out premises, hundreds parked themselves � sometimes three-deep � beyond the rather friendly fencing, wanting to catch at least a glimpse of the Mohammed Azharuddin XI vs Sachin Tendulkar XI match, featuring Asia Cup probables.

For the record, both captains fired centuries before retiring and, as it turned out, Sachin�s 100 carried his team to a comfortable win. Azhar scored 102.

Chasing 170 in 40 overs, Sachin�s XI got to 171 in 23 itself but the game continued for an additional five overs, as the idea was to give everyone the �feel� of a competitive match instead of merely going through the motions of a conditioning camp.

In keeping with the sub-continental speciality, there obviously was a scramble for autographs. While Sachin was the hot favourite, a close second was coach Kapil Dev, currently in the midst of a controversy which threatens to continue tormenting instead of heading for a quick burial.

Manoj Prabhakar and Inderjit Singh Bindra may not think too much of Kapil but, going by this morning�s scenes, the icon�s following hasn�t waned. This, too, should come as a relief for existing and potential sponsors.

The players, specially the Azhar-Ajay Jadeja-Nayan Mongia threesome, themselves have reason to look ahead positively after yesterday�s announcement by the Board it would extend �all support� to those accused of match-fixing, provided they don�t get chargesheeted.

The catalyst for this act, appreciated as a �wonderful gesture� by one of the trio, has been Kapil: In upholding his request for help, the Board has set a precedent. Now, Azhar, Jadeja and Mongia may either individually or even collectively turn on the heat, specially on an English weekly.

Speaking to The Telegraph, one of the threesome observed: �We aren�t exactly millionaires and, as suits can drag for years and force a huge hole in the pocket, one feared even thinking about legal action. Now that the Board will help us, we�ll probably review our stand (of keeping quiet). The pressure of constantly having to foot lawyers� fees, for instance, won�t be there.�

We can, perhaps, take that initial part with a pinch of salt, but there still is merit in what the player said.

Incidentally Kapil, sporting a mini-goatee, himself declined to say anything.

�Am I happy the Board has accepted my request? Well� I don�t think I have anything to add (to the formal request for help)� I don�t think I should make any comment. Kuch bolna kya zaroori hai?� he countered.

Clearly, the past few weeks have affected Kapil. His body-language, certainly, is sans the customary josh though close buddy Ashok Malhotra (in his second year as national selector) insisted �Kaps is now much better (in mind and body).�

As if to confirm that, Kapil announced he planned a round of golf with Malhotra and Madanlal, another close pal and selector, in the afternoon. �I haven�t played much golf in recent weeks, though,� Kapil acknowledged.

The conditioning camp, by the way, concludes tomorrow � coinciding with the team selection, but a full two days ahead of schedule. Apparently, those omitted �won�t have the heart� to continue, while the selected XIV could do with �extra off days� before India�s first commitment after the surfacing of cricket�s biggest scandal.

Hardly a very convincing explanation. In fact, it only reinforces the common belief that conditioning camps are basically a farce.    

Calcutta, May 21 
Subhadip Das of North 24 Parganas and Ria Dasgupta of Hooghly captured double crowns in the Central Calcutta table tennis championships today.

Subhadip won the boys� and sub-junior boys� titles with straight-game wins in both finals. Ria got a walkover from Sinjini Mitra in the girls� final and then overcame Sayantika Kundu in the sub-junior girls� title-round match.

The men�s and women�s crowns were clinched by Kishalay Basak and Manisha Chakraborty. Kishalay got better with each game in the final against Sourav Sengupta, winning 25-23, 21-18, 21-13.

The women�s final was a closer affair. Avanti Sinha cruised through the opening game, conceding eight points, but Manisha hung on to squeeze out the next three 21-19, 27-25, 21-17.

Emerging champions in the cadet sections were Soumya Nandy and Nabanita Bose.


(All finals)

Men: Kishalay Basak bt Sourav Sengupta 25-23, 21-18, 21-13. Women: Manisha Chakraborty bt Avanti Sinha 8-21, 21-19, 27-25, 21-17. Boys: Subhadip Das bt Chiranjib Choudhury 21-17, 21-8, 21-18. Girls: Ria walkover Sinjini Mitra. Sub-jr boys: Subhadip bt Chiranjib 21-11, 21-16, 21-10. Sub-jr girls: Ria bt Sayantika Kundu 25-23, 21-19, 21-14. Cadet boys: Soumya Nandy bt Soumyajit Sarkar 21-15, 14-21, 21-16. Cadet girls: Nabanita Bose bt Soumi Mondal 21-16, 13-21, 21-16.

Barackpore CA best

Barackpore Cricket Academy won the Parnasree Club-organised sub-junior meet title, beating Probal Ghosh XI by eight wickets in the final Sunday.

BRIEF SCORES: Probal Ghosh XI 95 (Anirudha Karmakar 4/12) lost to Barackpore CA 96/2 (Manoj Tewari 48).    


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