�Forget the lead-up, this is it�
Soma wins
Rain continues to rule out play
Flying start for SBT
Switches on as AIFF prepares for elections
Pune Races/ Star Fortune may strike again
Pune Races/ Intel takes rivals by surprise
Calcutta Races/ Staffordshire, No Surrender shine

Calcutta, Oct. 28: 
For the second time in exactly a fortnight, India are just hours from a title-round face-off.

The Nairobi venture didn�t quite finish the way we would have liked and, despite losing both league matches to Sri Lanka, in Sharjah, Sourav Ganguly is hopeful of ending October on a high.

Incidentally, India�s last tournament win was two years ago � in Sharjah itself.

�In Nairobi, we took to the final (against New Zealand) when right on top psychologically. Yet, we lost in a close finish. And, so, it�s not such a big factor that Lanka beat us both times in the league,� the India captain told The Telegraph today.

Sourav, contacted on his mobile, added: �In any case, when it becomes a one-off affair, as it will be tomorrow, who defeated whom how many times in the lead-up becomes irrelevant. Only one thing counts � the performance on that day.�

Asked whether his message to the team would, this time, be different from what he repeatedly said (�play positively...� and �play your natural game...�) in Nairobi, Sourav replied: �I suppose I�ll add �play to potential�. We didn�t yesterday (Lanka won by a handsome 68 runs) and, clearly, can�t afford a repeat in the final.� More than Chaminda Vaas and Nuwan Zoysa, though, India will have to �read� Muttiah Muralidharan (Sourav�s predecessor and possible successor at Lancashire) better.

�But we�ve played Murali before... I agree he had a terrific day against us, but that was yesterday. Tomorrow, Murali will have to start from scratch,� Sourav pointed out, indicating however that tackling the off-spinner will dominate tonight�s team meeting.

Muralidharan�s world record-erasing seven for 30, last evening, left Aaqib Javed (seven for 37) and Winston Davis (seven for 51) in the shade.

But for all of Muralidharan�s brilliance, India�s enemy really is within. Not learning from mistakes being something that can be spotted without a state-of-art radar.

Young Sridharan Sriram, for example, will have to pay for his impetuosity on successive days: He�s the one who will have to make way for Venkatesh Prasad�s return.

The injured Anil Kumble, though, won�t make the XI.

�Of course, it�s a huge blow... But, we have to make do with the resources that remain. Make the most of a big day,� remarked Sourav, who has come to bank on Kumble in a big way.

Kumble�s non-availability (as also Rahul Dravid�s) puts that much more pressure on the other senior pros, namely Sachin Tendulkar and the captain.

Thankfully, the �mischief� aimed at driving a wedge between Sourav and Sachin has been neutralised.

In fact, Sourav himself took the lead in clarifying he never made the (indirectly, Sachin-aimed) remarks in a one-to-one with the former captain.

�Yes, I did speak to Sachin... Actually, I didn�t have much to say as Sachin, having been a captain himself, knows that comments can be twisted or highlighted out of context...� Sourav explained, adding: �We don�t have a problem and none should be created.�

For his part, Sachin went on record, earlier this week, to insist Sourav would have come to him �directly� if he had something to say.

One couldn�t have hoped for a more mature response. Both ways.

What one does hope for now is that the on-field chemistry between one-day cricket�s hottest pair gets re-ignited. Sachin and Sourav opened in three of the four league matches, recording a best of only 33.

[The solitary Sachin-Dravid effort was worth 21.]

Sourav, who became the 18th member of the 6,000 club Thursday (second behind Sir Viv Richards in the number of innings � 147 vis-a-vis 141, but in the least number of appearances, 152), realises too well the Team India agenda has to be announced by Sachin and him.

Zaheer Khan�s yorkers will provide the back-up.

The captain has also realised the best dividends, long term and short, will accrue by keeping this combination intact. With ten century-plus partnerships it can hardly be otherwise.

While Sourav is hopeful of an end more comforting than in Nairobi, typically, he didn�t elaborate. �Never predict... That�s one thing limited overs cricket has taught me,� he reminded.

Expectations obviously will be high, but it�s worth noting Lanka began rebuilding a year ago. The Indians have only just begun.

That, perhaps, explains why Sourav reaches for the Maa-Chandi locket more frequently that he probably otherwise would have.

It�s a matter of keeping faith.    

Calcutta, Oct. 28: 
Soma Das of Bengal defeated Delhi�s Dipika Kali Raman in the women�s section on the opening day of the annual all India wrestling meet held at Burabazar Byam Samity today.

�Bharat Kesri� Jagdish Kali Raman, son of Master Chandgi Ram, and Bengal�s Kishore Sarkar earned facile wins over their opponents. Arjun Ray got a walk-over.    

Calcutta, Oct. 28: 
Rains continued to affect the Cooch Behar Trophy clash between hosts Bengal and Orissa at the Eden today, with play being ruled out for the second consecutive day.

Tomorrow being the final day, if no play is possible, points will be shared between the teams. Bengal bagged five points from their opener against Tripura. No practice for Bengal�s Ranji Trophy probables could be possible on the ground as well.    

New Delhi, Oct. 28: 

The 2000 Allwyn Durand football meet got off to a sedate start today with Tata Football Academy and Army XI battling out a goalless draw. The action was reserved for the second game, which saw State Bank of Travancore rout Bhutan XI 4-2.

SBT�s goalscorers, in this group A pre-quarter final league match, were former internationals Jiju Jacob, Abdul Hakeem and Asif Saheer, while an own-goal by Bhim Kumar Chettri swelled their tally. Sangay Dikpa and skipper Wangay Dorji reduced the margin for Bhutan XI.

Shaky launch for TFA

TFA, with eight players who represented India in the Asian sub-junior tournament this year, struggled initially against the Armymen�s forthright approach in their group B opener. Wing backs Amjad Ali and Dipayan Mazumdar were shaky and goalkeeper V. Satish Kumar made several saves off prompt shots by Army front-runners Aroikanathan and Sajith Kumar.

Playing in the 4-3-3 system, TFA settled down towards the end of the first half and, with clever short-passing moves, created the better openings during the rest of the match.

Just after the half-hour, TFA�s midfielder Avinash Thapa sneaking into space and headed in an accurate right-wing cross by Malsunthunga but referee Walter Pereira disallowed the goal. Later TFA coach Ranjan Chowdhury expressed surprise at the decision and said his player had not committed any infringement.

TFA won the Jamshedpur league this season, scoring a record 63 goals but they could not find the net today. Former Bengal sub-junior skipper Syed Rahim Nabi was the worst culprit.

Key men missing

SBT, without an injured Sylvester Ignatius, their top scorer in the 1999-2000 National League, lacked pace upfront. They also missed the clever probing of injured playmaker V. Suresh Babu.

SBT opened their account in the 21st minute. Bhutan�s right-back Norbu Dukpa tripped Abdul Hakeem in the box and Jacob converted the resultant penalty kick. Ten minutes later, right-back Martin Mathew�s diagonal kick released Hakeem, who flicked over the head of onrushing goalkeeperJigme Singay. At the stroke of half-time, under pressure from V.P. Shaji, Bhutan�s left-back Chettri toed in an own-goal.

Midfielder Agyapan�s fierce free-kick in the 63rd minute rebounded to nippy Asif Saheer who scored with a stinging low shot. SBT now relaxed and Bhutan XI reduced the margin. In the 68th minute, Dikpa flicked in after goalkeeper Rajiv Kumar misjudged the bounce of the ball. In the 75th minute, SBT�s goalkeeper Rajiv Kumar collected the ball, following a low backpass. Off the resultant free-kick, at the edge of the six yard box, skipper Dorji blasted in.    

New Delhi, Oct. 28: 
With the All India Football Federation elections round the corner, politicking is on in full swing. AIFF president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi and secretary Kedar Nath Mour are in opposite camps in the run-up to the December 9 polls in Mumbai, and both are trying to woo two important personalities in Samir Thapar and Alberto Colaco.

It is learnt that Colaco, the National League Committee chairman, is quite disgruntled now that Das Munshi has officially announced P.P. Lakshmanan as his �running mate� for the post of secretary. Colaco had been angling for the post and has made no secret of his ambitions. He had been in Das Munshi�s camp, but is now listening to feelers from the Mour-Ranjit Gupta group.

The reverse development has taken place in the case of Thapar. For months he had been a staunch supporter of Mour and was even being billed as a candidate for AIFF president�s post. He was being projected as a worthy opponent of the president, but the Das Munshi camp now claims that he has switched sides and has been guaranteed the post of senior vice-president.

This is believed to have occurred after a long meeting between Das Munshi and Thapar at the latter�s residence.

It is learnt that the help of the Indian Olympic Association secretary Randhir Singh was obtained in this turnaround. Thapar�s wife is related to Randhir�s wife and so family connections were used.

IOA politics are also having their say in the AIFF elections.    

Pune, Oct. 28: 
A comfortable winner of the Eve Champion Trophy over 2,000m, the Hosidar Daji-trained four-year-old filly, Star Fortune, is set to strike again in the Herbertsons Bagpiper Gold RWITC Ltd. Invitational Trophy over an identical trip at the Pune races on Sunday, the concluding meet of the 35-Day season. Malcolm Kharadi partners the Steinbeck-Star of Fashion filly.


1.15 pm: Soviet Ride 1. Source Of Light 2. Court Of Law 3.
1.45 pm: Aylesfield 1. Fiercely Loyal 2. Millenium Star 3.
2.15 pm: Let�s Party 1. Spring Snow 2. Memories Of Gold 3.
2.45 pm: Southern Star 1. Essesspemess 2. Maringue 3.
3.15 pm: Evening In Paris 1. Bolt Of Lightning 2. Diligence 3.
3.45 pm: Star Fortune 1. Alchemy 2. Sonalika 3.
4.15 pm: Fantasy Royal 1. Express Lane 2. Golden Glitter 3.
5 pm: Blue Blood 1. Evidence Of Faith 2. Zeisha 3.

Day�s Best: Soviet Ride

Double: Evening In Paris & Fantasy Royal

Pune, Oct. 28: 
Coming with a late run, Intel � a speedster from D. Todywalla�s yard, posted an upset win in the Prince Pradeep Trophy in Pune on Saturday. Pesi Shroff partnered the colt.


(With inter-state dividends)
1. Top Lady Plate 2,000m: (3-4-7) Inquisition (M. Narredu) 1; Dance With Me 2; La Tour D�Argent 3. Won by: 7-1/2; 6-1/2; (2-9). Tote: Win Rs 18; Place: 12; 53; 14; Quinella: 209; Tanala: 661. Fav: Inquisition (3).
2. Sparkling Water Plate 1,600m:(5-6-3) Sanaga (Prakash) 1; Cats Concert 2; Courtesan 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 1; (1-41.4). Tote: Win Rs 31; Place: 14; 31; 12; Quinella: 237; Tanala: 935. Fav: Courtesan (3).
3. Deepak Trophy 1,600m: (3-7-8) Twist Afleet (Gallagher) 1; Sunny Sez 2; Picasso 3. Won by: Nk; 1-3/4; (1-41.3). Tote: Win Rs 36; Place: 14; 14; 43; Quinella: 37; Tanala: 708. Fav: Sunny Sez (7).
4. Loud Appeal Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (1-4-3) Flying High (Bernard) 1; Days Of Thunder 2; Dalsinghar 3. Won by: 1; 3/4; (1-14.1). Tote: Win Rs 49; Place: 19; 31; 30; Quinella: 436; Tanala: 3,277. Fav: Royal Origine (2).
5. Party Belle Plate, Div-I 1,400m: (3-6-7) Venus (Gallagher) 1; Survee�s Pet 2; Reprobate 3. Won by: 3; 2-1/4; (1-27.1). Tote: Win Rs 44; Place: 18; 20; 21; Quinella: 119; Tanala: 699. Fav: Traumerei (9).
6. Loud Appeal Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (3-1-7) Golden Dynasty (Kadam) 1; Way Beyond 2; Lady Mayoress 3. Won by: 1; 3/4; (1-14.9). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 14; 13; 18; Quinella: 44; Tanala: 176. Fav: Golden Dynasty (3).
7. Prince Pradeep Trophy 1,400m: (1-6-4) Intel (Shroff) 1; Thunder Struck 2; La Unique 3. Won by: 1/2; 1-3/4; (1-25.5). Tote: Win Rs 107; Place: 33; 32; 27; Quinella: 478; Tanala: 10,909. Fav: La Unique (4).
8. Party Belle Plate, Div-II 1,400m: (1-5-7) Wine N� Song (Kamlesh) 1; Pussy Cat 2; Ric-Rac 3. Won by: 1/2; SH; (1-27.9). Tote: Win Rs 58; Place: 26; 22; 19; Quinella: 125; Tanala: 2,164. Fav: Combined Venture (8).
9. Naloma Plate 2,000m: (6-2-3) Park Lane (Bernard) 1; Steve Tyler 2; Eisenhower 3. Won by: 2; 3/4; (2-12.5). Tote: Win Rs 242; Place: 48; 20; 24; Quinella: 640; Tanala: 23,807. Fav: Simply Delightful(8).

Jackpot: Rs 5,11,273 (Carried over); (C) Rs 10,113.

Treble: (i) Rs 363; (ii) Rs 871; (iii) Rs 69,160 (Carried over).    

Calcutta, Oct. 28: 
Staffordshire, No Surrender, Annalee and Aloritz were impressive from among the following horses exercised today morning:

Outer sand track

1,400m: Chicarica (Amjad) in 1-55 3/5s; (800m) 1-4s; (400m) 28 4/5s. Easy.
800m: Alyssum (Rb) and Annatto (A. P. Singh) in 59 2/5s; (400m) 28 2/5s. Former a head better. Both moved well. Friendly Knight (Rb) in 57s; (400m) 26 3/5s. Good. Aloritz (Surender) in 1-0s; (400m) 27 2/5s. Note. Global Harmony (Rb) in 58 2/5s; (400m) 28 2/5s. Easy.
600m: Double Cross (Rb) in 46 3/5s; (400m) 28 1/5s. Easy. Double Dancer (Rb) in 43 1/5s; (400m) 26 2/5s. Moved well.

Sand track

800m: Falconaire (K. Gurang) in 56s; (400m) 26s. Easy. Rheinheart (Shanker) in 56 3/5s; (400m) 25 2/5s. No Surrender (Akhtar) in 54 4/5s; (400m) 25 2/5s. Fit and well. On The Bit (Connorton) in 59 2/5s; (400m) 28 4/5s. Staffordshire (Rb) in 52 4/5s; (400m) 23 4/5s. Impressed. Strictly Royal (Shanker) in 57 4/5s; (400m) 26s. Harry The Horse (Connorton) in 1-0s; (400m) 24 4/5s. Fit. Ballet Master (Upadhya) and Natural Mover (Imran K.) in 1-3s; (400m) 28 1/5s. Former 6 ls better. Eau Savage (Shanker) in 56 2/5s; (400m) 25 2/5s. Endless Surprise (Brij) in 1-2s; (400m) 26 4/5s. Sovereign Bullet (Rb) in 58s; (400m) 28s. Very fit. Bird�s Empire (Upadhya) in 56s; (400m) 25s. Moved well.

Monsoon track

800m: Floral Path (Shanker) in 56s; (400m) 25 4/5s. Heaven�s Blessing (Shanker) in 55s; (400m) 25s. Fit.

Gate practice

From 2,000m to 600m: Annalee (A. P. Singh), Artifact (Tamang) and Athletico (Surender) in 1-36 4/5s; (First 800m) 52s. All three jumped out well. Each was seperated by a length.7    

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