Diffidence may rule out bold moves
E. Bengal open Tuesday
Khurshid is new Md. Sp. secretary
India’s qualifying chances recede
Rajiv Mishra treatment
Firoz Ali keeps lead
Four jockeys suspended
Hope expected to make amends
Cristopher wins 3

Calcutta, Aug. 31: 
Till recently, doors everywhere quickly opened for the Board and, without exception, the red carpet would welcome its mandarins.

However, that has not been so for some months and it has affected the Board: Diffidence has replaced confidence.

About the only ‘firm’ move in recent times has been the scheduling of Saturday’s meeting, to pick 20 probables for the October 3-15 mini-World Cup (Nairobi), in Chennai — home turf of Board president A.C.Muthiah.

No time will then be lost if the president (who okays all selections) wishes to convey any ‘message’, to the selectors, first-hand. On the face of it, the choice of the venue is significant.

Still, it remains to be seen whether the Board’s stock will recover, Saturday onwards.

[The selectors will also name the captain. Sourav Ganguly’s reappointment is certain.]

As of now, that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is yet to present the interim report, into allegations of match-fixing, is only adding to the Board’s discomfiture.

Incidentally, the Justice Edwin King Commission in South Africa, which began functioning a good six-seven weeks after the CBI, has already tabled report No. 1.

“If something truly is amiss, let the CBI say that. If not, Indian cricket should be given a clean-chit. At this point of time, we are neither here nor there,” observed a very senior Board member, speaking to The Telegraph this afternoon.

This “neither-here-nor-there” business has almost crippled the Board in the lead-up to Saturday’s meeting. It’s another matter Muthiah may actually take some initiative before Messrs Chandu Borde, Madanlal, Ashok Malhotra, T.A.Sekar and Anil Deshpande sit down.

Should the Board stick to its stand that no player (official, too) will be sidelined unless chargesheeted, or should it respect Union sports minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s hardline views on the matter?

Within the Board, there’s confusion. There’s division.

Of course, it hasn’t helped that some Board mandarins/members have themselves been raided by the Income Tax/CBI. And, in a wholly different matter, Muthiah has himself been chargesheeted by the CBI.

The Kapil Dev factor is there as well — only, the already-under-pressure selectors don’t get involved there. In any case, the coach isn’t concerned with shortlisting probables.

According to well-placed sources, while many members don’t want the Board to “precipitate matters,” quite a few feel “nothing will be lost” if a (moral) stand on the Mohammed Azharuddin-Ajay Jadeja-Nikhil Chopra trio is taken.

Both points of view were informally discussed during the recent working committee meeting, in Bangalore.

Azhar, Jadeja and Chopra are the three current India players subjected to raids. All three played in the Asia Cup (Dhaka, May/June), India’s last engagement.

Of course, that tournament was held after cricket’s numero uno scandal made the front pages everywhere, but before the multiple raids.

There’s talk that the tainted trio could/should be overlooked strictly on merit. That none of them has had an exceptional 2000.

Yet, given the happenings of the past few months, everybody will probably read something else. Apparently, this has made the Board’s mandarins “apprehensive.”

As for the selectors, no one wishes to say a word. “It’s very delicate... Too sensitive,” is what they are saying.

In any case, as the selectors come up for re-appointment, next month, they will be conservative in their moves.

Any bold step, really, has to be initiated by the Board’s top brass. By the president himself or secretary Jaywant Lele, who will be convening Saturday’s meeting.

For the record, Azhar has had just one fifty in 11 ODIs this year; Jadeja has managed one more in the same number of matches; Chopra has bagged a mere three wickets in four games.

None of them has even remotely been exceptional.

Chopra, in particular, has been an absolute passenger — a single appearance in each of the four one-day tournaments/series in 2000. He is straightaway dispensable.

In advancing the merit-argument in general, though, the one problem may be that others (besides the trio) could also come under the scanner.

The canvas would have been much different had one of Dhindsa’s suggestions been heeded: Opt out on moral grounds. Till late this evening, nobody had obliged.    

Calcutta, Aug. 31: 
The 106th IFA Shield kicks off Tuesday with East Bengal taking on the cluster champions — either BNR or Calcutta Port Trust — at Salt Lake Stadium.

In a group B tie on the same day, George Telegraph face State Bank of Travancore (SBT) at Rabindra Sarobar Stadium. Holders Mohun Bagan begin against SBT at Salt Lake Stadium a day later.

East Bengal, Mohammedan Sporting, JCT and the cluster champions are in group A, while Mohun Bagan, Tollygunge Agragami, SBT and George Telegraph complete on September 13 and 14.


Sept. 5:East Bengal vs cluster champions (Salt Lake), George Telegraph vs SBT (R. Sarobar). Sept. 6: Mohun Bagan vs SBT (Salt Lake). Sept. 7:Mohammedan Sporting vs cluster champions (R. Sarobar), Tollygunge Agragami vs George Telegraph (Salt Lake). Sept. 8: East Bengal vs JCT (Salt Lake). Sept. 9: Mohun Bagan vs George Telegraph (Salt Lake), Tollygunge Agragami vs SBT (R. Sarobar). Sept. 10: East Bengal vs Mohammedan Sporting (Salt Lake), JCT vs cluster champions (R. Sarobar). Sept. 11: Mohun Bagan vs Tollygunge Agragami (Salt Lake). Sept. 12: Mohammedan Sporting vs JCT (R. Sarobar). Sept. 13: 1st semi-final: Winners Gr. A vs runners-up Gr. B (Salt Lake). Sept. 14: 2nd semi-final: Winners Gr. B vs runners-up Gr. A (Salt Lake). Sept. 16: Final (Salt Lake).

BNR, Port in cluster final

Swapan Das’ sixth-minute ‘golden goal’ helped BNR beat FCI 2-1 in a cluster semi-final today. FCI went ahead through Saikat Pal before Kamal Ghosh equalised.

Sujit Dey and Sudip Mallik scored in Calcutta Port Trust’s 2-1 win over SAIL in the other semi-final. Mustaqin Molla struck for SAIL. After tomorrow’s final at the Kishore Bharati Stadium, the champions will qualify for the main draw.

Mahindras confirm late

Mahindra and Mahindra’s confirmation reached the IFA office this afternoon, after the schedule was drawn. The IFA is unlikely to accommodate them at the expense of any other team.

State aquatics from today

The state open aquatic meet begins at Subhas Sarobar tomorrow. More than 200 swimmers, divers and waterpolo players are likely to take part in the meet. The Bengal probables for the 55th senior national championship will be selected after this meet, which concludes Sunday.    

Calcutta, Aug. 31: 
To fill in the void created by general secretary Mir Mohammed Omar’s disappearance, the Mohammedan Sporting exceutive committee today appointed Suleiman Khurshid as the new general secretary.

Omar is still at large after being sentenced to life imprisonment for being involved in a murder case.

Twelve of the club’s 22 executive committee members called an emergency meeting today and requested Khurshid to resign as president and take up the new post.

Kalimuddin Shams was elected new president. He was the club’s vice-president and his replacement is yet to be named.

According to Khurshid, the new office bearers have met the players and assured them that payments will be made as promised earlier. Mohammedan Sporting meet George Telegraph in a Super Division match tomorrow.    


India had a disappointing fourth day, Wednesday, in the World Teams Bridge Olympiad in Maastricht, losing badly to Israel 9-12 (18 imps to 48) and then managing only a marginal 17-13 (38 to 27), and a moderate win 20-10 (48 to 22), over Latvia and San Marino, respectively, the two of the weaker teams.

The Indian players may have become a bit disheartened after the 15-15 tie with Egypt the previous day as analysis now reveals that our players were somewhat unlucky in that the grand slam bid by Egypt scored on a finesse. Moreover, two Egyptians games came home due to a lucky lie of the cards.

After ten rounds, India inched up to joint seventh spot but the chances of qualifying have receded as the gap with the fourth-placed side has widened and the number of matches left reduced. India have two of the toughest matches to play late on Thursday, against France and Sweden.

Meanwhile, England surrendered their status as group leaders to Sweden by losing 12-18 in their direct match while Poland recaptured the top spot in group A from Belgium, despite the latter beating Brazil 18-12 and Austria 24-6 before bowing 10-20 to Denmark.

In the other groups, Australia and Italy consolidated their positions despite the former losing 12-18 to USA and the latter being held to a 15-15 by Malaysia. A big surprise is Morocco lying joint fifth in group D with South Africa who have come into the reckoning with three 20-plus wins during the day.

In other matches, Denmark beat Ireland 20-10, Norway blitzed China 25-5, and France beat Germany. Among women, India had another lacklustre day, losing 11-19 to Pakistan and 8-22 to Czech Republic before salvaging some pride with a 19-11 win over Wales. The Indian ladies play Argentina, Germany and Australia late on Thursday. In group A, the top few positions remained more-or-less unchanged except that USA has at last struck form with three emphatic wins and are now lying third.

In group B, while France continue to lead, Germany have moved into second place with a 21-9 win over Canada, a 23-7 over Poland and a 14-16 losing draw with France. Meanwhile, as the seniors’ teams reached a critical stage, favourites USA have taken over the lead and Omar Sharif’s Egyptian squad is in seventh spot.

THE STANDINGS (in brief):OPEN (max. 250 VP from 10 matches, 7 to go): MEN: Group A: 1. Poland 198; 2. Belgium 191; 3. Denmark 182; 4. Brazil 181; 5. Austria 175.5 6. Ireland 172.5. Group B: 1. Australia 199; 2. USA 195; 3. Netherlands 184; 4. Russia 175; 5. Hungary 167; 6. Greece 165. Group C: 1. Sweden 212; 2. England 204; 3. France 200; 4. Indonesia 195.5; 5. Japan 177; 6. Israel 172; 7/8. India & Germany 153. Group D: 1. Italy 218; 2/3. Argentina & Norway 195; 4. Chian 186; 5. South Africa & Morocco 172; WOMEN (max. 275 VP from 11 matches, 8 to go): Group A: 1. Norway 228; 2. Austria 198 3. USA 193.1; 144.5; 4. Chinese Taipei 191; 5. Denmark 188.5; 6. Finland 184. Group B: 1. France 211; 2. Germany 206; 3. Netherlands 201; 4. Canada 197; 5. Poland 191; 6. China 189;SENIORS (max 375 from 15 matches, 8 to go): 1. USA 294.25; 2. Sweden 275.25; 3. Scotland 272; 4. Australia 269; 5. France 268; 6. England 264; 7. Egypt 260; UNIVERSITY (max 300 from 12 matches, 9 to go): 1. Austria 257; 2. Italy 241; 3/4. Germany & Czech Republic 223; 5. Norway 217; 6. Denmark 216.    

Calcutta, Aug. 31: 
The Sapphire Enterprise has asked for Rajiv Mishra’s travel documents so that the injured hockey star can travel to England for treatment. According to a letter received by an official of East Bengal, the club Mishra represented last season, P.C. RajProhit has said his agency has done all necessary arrangements.

The junior World Cupper will stay and train at Indian Gymkhana. All expenses, as said earlier, will be borne by the agency. Mishra, who is in Benaras, has been contacted and his documents will soon be sent to England.    

Calcutta, Aug. 31: 
Firoz Ali dominated the proceedings on Day II of the Rs 5 lakh Ford MGC Open golf meet at Chennai today, according to information received here.

The city player returned a card of three-under 67 to lead the field with an aggregate of seven-under 133, followed by Ali Sher who had five-under 135. Rafiq Ali was third with four-under 136 while Harmeet Kahlon and Vishal Singh shared the fourth spot.

CAB transfers

East Bengal, with new cricket co-ordinator Naresh Ojha, are likely to sign in a host of players on the opening day of CAB inter-club transfers tomorrow.

Among those expected to renew allegiance are Arun Lal, Goutam Shome, Subir Dey, Ajoy Verma and Dharmendra Singh, while Sourasish Lahiri, Wrichik Mazumder and Satyen Bhattachrya are likely to join the club.

Sourasish, selected for the National Cricket Academy, will sign tomorrow and leave for Bangalore in the evening. He will miss the first day of the new session there beginning tomorrow. According to Sourasish, he has been granted permission.

Club officials also claimed to have roped in Srikant Kalyani from Tollygunge Agragami and Sumitra Mazumdar from Aryan.    

Calcutta, Aug. 31: 
The Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) stewards conducted the four pending enquiries yesterday and handed a heavy punishment to jockey E. Smith for unsatisfactory riding of Go India Go on August 16. The jockey was suspended till March 9, 2001. S. Shanker, too, was slapped a month-long suspension for his handling of The Stud on August 23. Jockeys Yacoob’s incompetent riding of Run Ahead on August 16 earned him a two meeting suspension, while Mark Reuben was asked to sit out until September 27 for his riding of Aliqa, on the same date.


Monsoon track

1,400m: Remember Me (Rb) in 1-56s; (400m) 31s. Optimum Choice (Yadav) in 2-3s; (400m) 26s. 1,200m: Sky Command (Rabani) and Global Harmony (Islam) in 1-21s; (400m) 24s. Former far superior. On The Bit (Connorton) in 1-23s; (400m) 25s. Good. Hot (Surender) and Lash-karee (A. P. Singh) in 1-36s; (400m) 28s. 800m: Mameena (Connorton) in 52s; (400m) 24s. Moved well. 600m: Alsadena (M. Reuben) in 46s; (400m) 27s. Work Order (Islam) and Aristotemus (Rabani) in 47s; (400m) 27s. Former 4 ls better. Classic Knight (Islam) and Aeolian (Rb) in 44s; (400m) 26s. Level.

Sand track

800m: Dominate (Gowli) in 57s; (400m) 25s. On Wednesday, outer sand track 800m: Storm Centre (Engineer) in 1-2s; (400m) 30s. Little Boy Blue (Brij) in 1-4s; (400m) 28 1/5s; Sand track, 1,400m: Tsavo (Upadhya) in 1-42s; (400m) 26s. Moved well. 800m: Relative Shade (Gowli) and Arctic Fancy (P. Alford) in 55s; (400m) 24s. Former half-a-length better. Noble Canonire (Yadav) in 55s; (400m) 25s. Moved well. Time Of Times (Amjad) in 57s; (400m) 27s. Royal Ruler (Rutherford) in 1-3s; (400m) 28 3/5s. 600m: Head Hunter (Gurang) in 41s; (400m) 26s. Endless Surprise (Upadhya) in 42 3/5s; (400m) 27 3/5s.    

An easy third when ridden by an apprentice, Miss Arti Doctor-trainee Hope, in the hands of Malesh Narredu, is expected to land the 2,400m Baraloy Plate at the Pune races on Friday. Working satisfactorily now, the Steinbeck- Ambretta four-year-old filly may have to beat Great Pasha.


3 pm: Hope 1. Great Pasha 2. Fine Arrow 3.

3.30 pm: Waleshan 1. Supreme Authority 2. Classy Missy 3.

4 pm: National Velvet 1. Different Crown 2. Ever So Loyal 3.

4.30 pm: Proper Pride 1. Courraggio 2. Camaro 3.

5 pm: Natural Spark 1. Running Royal 2. Bon Apetit 3.

5.30 pm: Phenom 1. Cats Concert 2. Queenstown 3.

6 pm: Red Trident 1. Tim Tom 2. Smart Hunter 3.

Day’s Best: National Velvet Double: Hope & Phenom    

After a subdued start of the week in Calcutta, jockey Cristopher Alford displayed his class winning three races in Mysore on Thursday.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Somanathpur Plate 1,400m: (5-9-12) High Zoom (Harish) 1; Brave Edge 2; Goldeneye 3. Won by: Nk; Hd; (1-28.7). Tote: Win Rs 73; Place: 25; 12; 841; Quinella: 76; Tanala: 25,680 (C.o). Fav: Brave Edge (9)

2. Reliance Gold Trophy, Div-II 1,400m: (1-5-3) Activator (C. Alford) 1; Elegant Rainbow 2; Saturn Star 3. Won by: 2; 5-1/2; (1-27.7). Tote: Win Rs 18; Place: 12; 13; 24; Quinella: 20; Tanala: 101. Fav: Activator (1).

3. Talakadu Plate 1,200m: (5-10-3) Brompton Road (Shafiq) 1; Bessie 2; Finders Keepers 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 1/2; (1-15.2). Tote: Win Rs 79; Place: 28; 50; 17; Quinella: 1,106; Tanala: 4,036. Fav: Finders Keepers (3).

4. Pune Plate 1,600m: (1-4-6) Arduous (C. Alford) 1; Harry The Horse 2; Supreme Ark 3. Won by: SH; 3; (1-41.2). Tote: Win Rs 61; Place: 19; 23; 52; Quinella: 406; Tanala: 23,368. Fav: Odeon (2).

5. Reliance Gold Trophy, Div-I 1,400m: (6-2-7) Refresher (Rakesh) 1; Argolis 2; Armiger 3. Won by: SH; 6-1/2; (1-25.5). Tote: Win Rs 42; Place: 16; 15; 58; Quinella: 31; Tanala: 1,342. Fav: Argolis (2).

6. A. V. Thomas Trophy 1,400m: (8-4-7) Barrier Ridge (Prakash) 1; Tempt Me Not 2; Crystal Moment 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 2-1/4; (1-24.8). Tote: Win Rs 34; Place: 13; 22; 18; Quinella: 65; Tanala: 365. Fav: Barrier Ridge (8).

7. Hotel R. R. R. Gold Cup 1,600m: (4-5-3) Baffin Bay (C. Alford) 1; Concur 2; Aerobee 3. Won by: 3; 1-1/4; (1-38.7). Tote: Win Rs 62; Place: 14; 12; 20; Quinella: 35; Tanala: 478. Fav: Concur (5).

8. Sagar Plate 1,600m: (6-2-11) Hong Kong Boy (Rakesh) 1; Classic Pursuit 2; Crown Haunt 3. Won by: 3-1/4; 1-1/2; (1-40.4). Tote: Win Rs 40; Place: 21; 37; 16; Quinella: 270; Tanala: 1,036. Fav: Hong Kong Boy (6).

Jackpot:Rs 10,006; (C) Rs 1,120.

Treble:v(i) Rs 1,051; (ii) Rs 751.

Controversial 1000 winners: The figure checked with the RCTC and other sources in Calcutta suggests that jockey Shafiq Mohammed has 730 winners to his credit and not 1000. Shafiq’s award has been held back by BTC.    


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