Utpal skips first day�s practice
We still have some work to do: Paes
BNR beat Howrah
Poddar in last 4
Men�s title for North Calcutta

Calcutta, Oct. 18: 
Utpal Chatterjee was among the eight missing as the Bengal Ranji Trophy probables began practice at the CC&FC today. The veteran left-arm spinner cited �personal work� as reason for his absence. CAB director of coaching, M.P. Parmar, conducted the five-hour session and will be doing so until a coach is named. A decision on this is likely when the CAB working committee meets on Monday.

Besides Utpal, who is unlikely to be present tomorrow too, others also not available were Sourav Ganguly, Rohan Gavaskar, Vishal Yadav, Sourasish Lahiri, Sabir Ali, Subhomoy Das and Arindam Das.

While Sourav is doing national duty, Rohan and Yadav are not in town. The four others left for Tripura today for the Cooch Behar Trophy match beginning Friday. CAB officials, however, did not know why Utpal was not present. Seniors Syed Saba Karim, Srikant Kalyani and Devang Gandhi were present as was Laxmi Ratan Shukla.

According to CAB joint-secretary Debdas Banerjee, Rohan has said he would arrive on Friday as he was busy with his graduation examination. Rohan was Bengal�s highest run-getter in Ranji Trophy last season. Yadav, according to the official, is likely to join the camp shortly.

Parmar, who primarily looks after the training programme for the juniors, said veterans continue to be indispensable in the senior Bengal squad. �Juniors are yet to challenge veterans like Saba, Utpal or Kalyani for a place in the team. They (the seniors) continue to be more hardworking and dedicated than most youngsters,� Parmar said.

The 66-year-old coach conceded bowling is still Bengal�s problem area but added that left-arm pacer Sujoy Parui has been impressive.    

Calcutta, Oct. 18: 
Just when it seemed that Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi were making a futile effort to rediscover their old magic, the Indian Express has served notice by winning the Japan Open in Tokyo Sunday.

After a dismal three-win, four-loss record in four tournaments since their reunion in August, Paes and Bhupathi won five matches in Tokyo to capture their 16th title � and their first since Wimbledon �99.

As expectations soar, Paes and Bhupathi are snatching a brief �holiday� before embarking on the five-week European indoor circuit.

The Telegraph caught up with Paes this afternoon, shortly after he came home from Tokyo via Bangkok.

Following are excerpts

Q Does the Japan Open triumph mean that the Indian Express is ready to rule the world once again?

A Well, we are almost there. We beat some tough teams and won some close matches. Also, winning five matches on the trot has helped us believe in ourselves. I am happy with our combination, but we still have some work to do. I would say it�s a nice stepping stone for the year 2001.

Q What are the things you still need to do to reach the level you achieved in 1999?

A As I had said two months back, it�s a matter of time. The more matches we play, the better we get. The high confidence level has to be restored so that we can walk on to the court believing we can tackle any situation. The other important factor is to look after our health and fitness.

Q You have looked a trifle overweight since your return from a three-month lay-off. Are you worried?

A Overweight? I�ll tell you I haven�t felt fitter and stronger in ages. When I was out of action (June to August this year) because of the wrist injury, I concentrated on building my body. The strength training in Orlando has paid off handsomely. In fact, that three-month break really rejuvenated me. Maybe, it�s because of my head that I look a little heavy. But believe me, there is not an ounce of fat on my body.

Q How did the bald look come about? Is it here to stay?

A I�ve tried out quite a few things over the years and even shaved my head once during my junior days. I thought of giving it another go and quite liked it.

Q Is the Olympic disappointment behind you?

A I guess not... As you can see, I�m in my Sydney India outfit as I leave for the courts.

To be absolutely honest, we were under-prepared going into the Olympics and didn�t have very high expectations. We lost a close match to the world�s best pair, but the fact that we lost so early still hurts.

Q In hindsight, do you rue changing your mind and not playing that extra event (in Tashkent) before the Olympics?

A Not at all. Carrying the Indian flag at the Olympic opening ceremony was a big occasion and I didn�t want to miss it. The Tashkent meet could have given us three-four extra matches, but we could also have lost in the first round. It was a conscious decision (skipping Tashkent) we took.

Q Having missed out on a golden opportunity in Sydney, are you tempted to give it another shot at the 2004 Athens Olympics?

A I would love to, no doubt about that. But it�s too early to think of Athens. A lot can happen between now and then. If I were to be around till then, I�d have played the circuit for 15 years. That�s a helluva long time to be playing this sport. Right now, I can�t say for sure whether I�ll be able to sustain myself for another four years.

Q The World Doubles Championship is less than two months away and that�s one title you�ve not won.

A Yeah, we�ve been in the final twice but lost both times. It would be nice if we can break the hoodoo in front of our home crowd. We have five tournaments (Basel, Brussels, Lyon, Paris and Stockholm) ahead of the world championship to sharpen our skills and understanding. Hopefully, we�ll be in a position to put up a good show in Bangalore.    

Calcutta, Oct 18: 
BNR (Day) beat North Howrah CC by 41 runs in the Kartick Bose Memorial sub-junior meet. Khurut Satyen Kar CCC trounced Measurers Club by ten wickets in the other match.


BNR (Day) 150/7 in 25 ovs (S. Mukherjee 34, A. Bose 32, S. Roy 32, A. Seth 3/27). North Howrah CC 109/5 in 25 ovs (S. Ali 3/5). BNR (Day) won by 41 runs.

Measurers Club 117/8 in 25 ovs (R. Singh 50 n.o.). Khurut Satyen Kar CCC 121/0 in 16.2 ovs (T. Bera 72 n.o., S. Adhikari 39 n.o.). Khurut Satyen Kar CCC won by 10 wkts.

U-19 squad leaves

The Bengal under-19 squad left for Agartala today, where the Cooch Behar Trophy match against Tripura will be played from Friday to Sunday.

THE XIV: Amitava Chakraborty (capt.), Sourasish Lahiri (vice-capt.), Arindam Das, Subhomoy Das, Ayan Nandy, Manabexndra Yadav, Aranyadeb Sarkar, Avishek Jhunjhunwala, Sabir Ali, Pinaki Majumdar, Samad Akhtar, Gourav Sharma, Koustav Ray, Tanvir Hyder Khan.

Ghei in lead

Gaurav Ghei fired a four-under 68 to emerge sole leader after Day II in the HT ProGolf 2000 in Gurgaon today. According to information received, Ghei has an aggregate of 10-under 134, one stroke better than the second-placed Jyoti Randhawa who returned a second-day card of two-under 70.

Vishal Singh was third at eight-under 136, followed by Arjun Atwal at five-under 139. Rafiq Ali and Harmeet Kahlon shared the fifth spot at three-under 141.

SAIL win 1-0

Ranjit Haldar�s goal helped SAIL beat Salkia Friends 1-0 in a Super Division relegation (first leg) match. The match between Eastern Railway and FCI ended 0-0. The teams meet again on Saturday and the overall losers will be relegated.    

Calcutta, Oct. 18: 
Mudit Poddar, Akram Khan, Brijesh Damani and Arnab Raha entered the semi-finals of the 12th state junior snooker meet at Hindustha Club. The semi-finals and final will be played tomorrow.

RESULTS: Mudit Poddar bt Wangchuk Bhutia 3-2 (27-42, 81-41, 53-39, 54-65, 70-13); Arnab Raha bt Sourav Kothari 3-2 (34-66, 38-63, 56-19, 56-43, 82-62); Brijesh Damani bt J.S. Shaw 3-0 (58-35, 57-30, 53-16); Akram Khan bt Anurag Bagri 3-1 (72-12, 47-48, 64-3, 54-26).

SNOOKER: 12th junior state meet: Semi-finals from 10 am and 12 noon, final from 4 pm at Hindusthan Club.

CRICKET: Kartick Bose sub-junior meet: Sunil Gavaskar Foundation vs Baguihati CCC (7.30 am); Shute Banerjee CC vs Dukhiram Majumdar CC (11.30 am). Matches at Deaf and Dumb School.    

Calcutta, Oct. 18: 
North Calcutta Zone (NCZ) won the men�s team title by defeating Central Calcutta Zone (CCZ), while South Calcutta Zone (SCZ) retained the women�s crown in the 66th state table tennis championship in Haldia today.

According to information received here, NCZ boys emerged best in the junior and sub-junior sections as well. In the junior boys final, NCZ beat Siliguri.

Siliguri and Hooghly came second and third in the women�s competition.


MEN: Final � NCZ bt CCZ 3-0 (Ranabir Das bt Ranjan Chakraborty 21-15, 21-15; Arup Basak bt Souvik Basu Roy 21-13, 24-22; Subham Chowdhury bt Indranath Bhattacharya 21-17, 21-19).

JUNIOR BOYS: Final � NCZ bt Siliguri 3-0 (Amit das bt Tanmoy Dutta 21-13, 21-12; Sourav Chakraborty bt Anirban Tarafdar 21-15, 21-9; Sourav/Jayanta Chandra bt Tanmay/Anirban 21-17, 21-14).

WOMEN: SCZ bt Siliguri 3-0 (Susmita Ray bt Mantu Ghosh 21-13, 19-21, 21-16; Poulami Ghatak bt Kasturi Chakraborty 21-17, 21-16; Susmita/Poulami bt Mantu /Kasturi 21-19, 21-7). SCZ bt Hooghly 3-0 (Poulami bt Madhumita Guin 21-5, 21-14; Susmita bt Anindita Chakraborty 21-18, 18-21, 21-19; Poulami/Susmita bt Anindita /Rajasree Saha 21-14, 23-21). SUB-JR BOYS: NCZ bt North 24 Parganas 3-1 (Sourav Pradhan lost to Subhadip Das 16-21, 19-21; Nilay Basak bt Amarnath Das 21-13, 21-14; Nilay/J. Sarkar bt Subhadip/Snehasish 21-18, 15-21, 24-22; Nilay bt Subhadip 21-9, 21-18). NCZ bt Hooghly 3-1 (Nilay bt Abhishek Karmakar 21-7, 21-13; Sourav lost to Chiranjib Chowdhury 13-21, 16-21; Nilay/J. Sarkar bt Chiranjib/Rana Das 21-19, 21-19; Nilay bt Chiranjib 21-10, 21-7).    


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