Lady pros not quite on the green
Syed Fazaluddin gets a coach, not sponsors
E. Bengal ooze confidence
2nd-half surge keeps TFA�s qualification hopes alive
ONGC win big
Twelve make it to main draw
John Wright set to take charge as India coach
I�m happy the wait has ended: Saba

Calcutta, Oct. 30: 
Simi Mehra, the first Indian woman golfer to play on a US Tour, will be brushing shoulders with the best when her name comes up on the LPGA list next year. But, even in the glow of that achievement, she can�t get over the feeling of having been deprived on another front.

Deprived, she believes, by some of her own countrymen.

Thanks to the exploits of the Gaurav Gheis and Jyoti Randhawas, and her own passage down the fairways of the Ladies European Tour, Indian golf is hardly in the woods these days and it was no surprise that they were invited to participate in the first women�s professional World Cup in Ireland.

The proposal to send a team has, however, been shot down by the Indian PGA. And this has left Simi and several other women golfers angry and frustrated.

Since there is no women�s PGA in India, it fell upon the men�s section to submit the names of two professionals as a pre-requisite for participation. The PGA refused to grant permission, saying that there was just one female �playing professional� in the country (Simi).

Arjuna Awardee Nonita Lal Qureshi is India�s other woman professional. She turned a pro 18 months ago, but because of her teaching assignment, hasn�t been on the circuit.

But not everyone feels Nonita should be brushed aside on that technical ground.

�Nonita is one of the leading golfers in our country. It�s not as if some novice had been asked to pick up the club all of a sudden,� an eminent golfer said.

The PGA members are equally resolute. They maintain that according to the requirements, India were not qualified to field a team. They could not send the name of one amateur either when conditions clearly said that both participants had to be professionals. Even if an exception was made, the organisers would definitely have not accepted the entry.

Nonita, who lives in Delhi, had an answer to this. According to her, the tournament organisers had a selection committee who were going to shortlist 40 countries from among the entrants. If the committee had not accepted the entry on the ground the PGA was pointing to, it would have been a different issue altogether.

She also maintains that nowhere in the form was it mentioned that both members had to be �playing professionals�. �I did pose this question to the PGA but they did not have the gall to answer me on the face. Instead, they kept running me around from one person to the other � it was absolutely appalling,� she told The Telegraph.

She said there have been times when amateurs have participated in the World Cup as far as men�s golf history goes.

�I did not lose so much, but it was Simi who really lost out on points and could not participate in a lot of other tournaments,� she pointed out.

Simi is adamant on her stand too. �I was in England preparing for the British Open, but I was also in touch with (PGA board members) Rohtas Singh, Ali Sher and Ramdayal, and Nonita meantime was also talking to all the board members and the secretary. I was told that I should not worry and concentrate on my game as the names would be sent. But nothing happened. All they had to do was to send the two names in time. But, I suppose, this was too much to ask of them.�

The secretary of the PGA, Shashi Mathur, when contacted in Delhi over phone, said, �How could we send the team when there are no players to send. India doesn�t have enough professional woman golfers and the tournament required two. That is the only reason I have to offer.�

Sadly, India didn�t have another professional women golfer besides Simi and Nonita to really press their claims.

But why don�t more women in India turn professionals?

The reason almost all give is the lack of sponsors to help individuals tide over the first few years on the circuit, before they begin to earn enough from the game.

That Simi, who has gone such a long way in the game, can draw upon family coffers to keep her on the pro circuit, only underlines the need for this �initial push�.

One only hopes that the Ireland World Cup miss will have all waking up to the need to give women�s golf a future in this country. So that such opportunities will not go abegging again.    

Calcutta, Oct. 30: 
Davis Cupper Syed Fazaluddin is in a sort of Catch 22 situation these days. Just when things are looking up and he is performing and has started believing in himself, he sees himself running out of sponsorship.

It is a bit disconcerting. �In the last week of August I and my Italian doubles partner Giorgio Galimberti (the pair is at 250 ATP ranking now) won the Long Island (New York) $ 15,000 ITF Futures title in West Hampton,� he said today. The pair beat South Africans Menad Toreman and Joel McGregor 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the final.

�The week before that, we had reached the semi-final of the same tournament�s East Hampton version,� said the 26-year-old. And a lot of good came off this. Not only did he get 18 ATP points from the win (12 from the semi-final entry), �renowned coach Omar Laehmine of Morocco offered me a free two-week orientation course at his Tampa, Florida, setup.

�He had seen me play in California and in the New York tournaments and came over himself. He said he believed I had it in me and during the two weeks he gave me I really learnt more than I have learnt in all my years as a tennis player.�

It was a sort of �promo� the coach gave Fazal, and Fazal has been extremely impressed. �But his charge is $ 1,500 per week, and I need to be at his camp for at least three months to derive any benefit from the training,� Fazal said. And that is a chunky $ 18,000.

Incidentally, Giorgio has not remained his doubles partner. �I am on the lookout for a doubles partner at the moment. I have been playing with a number of players and Mahesh Bhupathi has been helping me out on this. I believe he will be able to set me up with somebody good soon.�

Fazal�s singles foray has not been good enough. He has faltered early in many meets, and he is now considering a career in the doubles. But he concedes that the daily survival expenses in the US for him is around $ 3,000, and that is when he is not playing tournaments (�when expenses go up through accommodation and travel etc�). He is talking of a survival sponsorship of around $ 50,000 per year, and certainly it is a big amount.

He has had a sponsorship deal with an Indian pharmaceutical company (in the US), Sabitsa. But that deal is running out this year. With all the opportunity around now, Fazal can afford to feel a trifle worried. After a Lucknow tournament, Fazal will go over to play in Dubai and then in the Czech Republic before he returns to play the ATP Event qualifier.

Thereafter, it�s all a bit hazy. He would like to sort this uncertainty out now. The bills do keep mounting all the time.    

New Delhi, Oct. 30: 
A 19-member East Bengal squad arrived here today, brimming with confidence. Placed in group 2 of the Durand Cup quarter-final league, East Bengal kick off their campaign on Wednesday against Muktijoddha of Bangladesh.

East Bengal meet Goa league champions Zee Churchill Brothers Friday and their last match is on Sunday against JCT.

East Bengal are without midfielder Amit Das, who is injured, and goalkeeper Shanti Majumdar is busy with office matches. Coach Syed Nayeemuddin is expected to arrive late tonight and new Ghanaian recruit Siva Mumuni will reach tomorrow.

The team manager said Mumuni�s international transfer certificate has been obtained and the striker will be on trial during the tournament. East Bengal�s other foreign recruits are defenders Jackson Agyapong, Suley Mussah and midfielder Awoyemi Isiaka.

Skipper Bijen Singh and senior player Carlton Chapman expressed satisfaction at the recent 10-day training camp in Darjeeling. Chapman said training at high altitude has improved the fitness level of all players.

JCT suffered a major setback, just before they left Phagwara for their Durand campaign. International defender Prabhjyot Singh injured his knee in the last practise session. He has been ruled out of the tournament.

Coach Sukhwinder Singh said Prabhjyot will undergo a medical test today to see if an operation is needed. Sukhwinder admitted that Prabhjyot�s absence will weaken his defence.

Zee Churchill Brothers coach Shivdass said two new Brazilian players are also on trial. They are midfielder Andre and striker Edison. However, with Francis Silveira emerging top scorer in the Goa league with ten goals and Stephen Abarowei in good nick, Edison is unlikely to get a chance.

Salgaocar may try out the Calcutta-based Surojit Chatterjee, a Tata Football Academy product, as goalkeeper. Coach Markus Pacheco is unhappy with the form of first-choice custodian and former international Juje Siddi.


Nov. 1: JCT vs Zee Churchill Brothers; East Bengal vs Muktijoddha.
Nov. 2: Salgaocar vs SBT/TFA; Mohun Bagan vs Mahindra United.
Nov. 3: East Bengal vs Zee Churchill Brothers; JCT vs Muktijoddha.
Nov. 4: Mohun Bagan vs Salgaocar; Mahindra United vs SBT/TFA.
Nov. 5: Muktijoddha vs Zee Churchill Brothers; East Bengal vs JCT.
Nov. 6: Salgaocar vs Mahindra United; Mohun Bagan vs SBT/TFA.

New Delhi, Oct. 30: 

The Tata Football Academy (TFA) marched into the knockout phase of the Allwyn Durand Cup today with an emphatic 3-0 win over Youngmen Club of Delhi.

Winger Malsunthunga, striker Syed Rahim Nabi and midfielder Avinash Thapa scored the goals in the second half. With this win, TFA topped group A of the pre-quarter final league with four points from two matches.

TFA meet State Bank of Travancore (SBT) tomorrow and the winners will move into group 1 of the quarter-final league which also includes fifteen-time champions Mohun Bagan, Mahindra United and Salgaocar of Goa.

In an inconsequential group A pre-quarter final match, local league champions Indian Nationals held Bhutan XI 1-1. Wangay Dorji scored for Bhutan XI with a direct free-kick from the edge of the box in the 19th minute. The local team equalised in the 75th minute when midfielder Joy Paul Raj�s corner was firmly headed in by Nigerian recruit Yaqub.

Youngmen, needing only a draw to reach the knockout phase, played to a plan. They crowded the midfield and their 4-5-1 formation frustrated the nippy TFA forwards in the first half.

As time wore on, TFA�s approach play became ragged and predictable. Moves broke down because of unclean passing in the attacking third and they resorted to long-rangers. There was only one positive move in the first half, in the 27th minute, but striker Nabi� header was cleared off the goalline.

A change in strategy rejuvenated TFA in the second half. Coach Ranjan Chowdhury took off striker Krishna Tudu and switched to a 4-4-2 system. Substitute Bhuvan Chand Joshi played as central midfielder which allowed Subhash Chakraborty to play a more attacking game, wide on the left.

Chakraborty, who played for Sukanta Nagar Vidyaniketan in the 1998 Subroto Cup, changed the course of the game with his probing passes. This Park Circus boy, who idolises Prasun Banerjee, set up the first goal in the 48th minute. His floater to the far post found an unmarked Malsunthunga who did the needful.

In the 63rd minute, overlapping right-back Amjad Ali�s accurate diagonal cross was firmly headed in by an unmarked Nabi. A crisp build-up from the right led to TFA�s third goal in the 68th minute. Midfielder Akbar Singh squared to Thapa who bulged the netting with a curling left-footer from outside the box.


Calcutta, Oct. 30: 
On the opening day of the Petroleum Sports Control Board soccer tournament today ONGC thrashed Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited 5-0 at Rabindra Sarovar Stadium.

Swapan Pal and Amitava Ghosh scored two each, while Pabitra Kar scored the other.

At the inauguration, the PSCB authorities honoured Indian Footballer of the Century Sailen Manna with a citation and other gifts.

Sub-junior cricket

Shute Banerjee CCC yesterday beat Sambaran Banerjee Cricket Academy by 33 runs in the final of the 25-over Kartick Bose Memorial meet at the Deaf and Dumb School ground. Rakesh Ojha of Shute Banerjee was named Man of the Match. He scored 17 and took three for 22. Somsurra Mukherjee of BNR School of Cricket and Physical Culture was named Best Batsman of the meet, while teammate Saif Ali was named Best Bowler. Shute Banerjee�s Sourabh Biswas was named Man of the Tournament.

Brief scores: Shute Banerjee CCC 132 in 25 overs (Bivash Dutta 31; Rakesh Ojha 17; Akash Mohinder 3/19). Sambaran Banerjee CA 99 in 23.1 ovs (Akash Mohinder 25; Rakesh Ojha 3/22)

Calcutta, Oct. 30: 
Twelve kids today qualified for the main draw of the National Ranking table tennis championships (East) 2000 at the Khudiram Anushilan Kendra. The qualification rounds get over tomorrow and the main draw matches start the day after.

The following are the qualifiers:

Sub-junior boys: Joydeep Das, Anirban Roy Chowdhury, Sourav Ghosh (all Bengal), Tarun J. George (TN).
Cadet boys: L. Sachin (Manipur), A. Das Mohapatra (Orissa), Prithviraj Sinha, Santo Sabuj Chakraborty (both Bengal).
Boys: Saheb Pakira, Somnath Das, Snehasis Bhattacharya (all Bengal), G. Vinod (TN).

Mahila Bharat Kesri

Sonika Kali Raman earned the title of �Mahila Bharat Kesri� in 75 kg category while two Bengal women lost in the finals of the all India wrestling meet at Burabazar Byam Samity yesterday.

Soma Das and Suparna Das Ghosh lost to Renu Bala and Puspa Sharma in 51 kg and 46 kg categories, respectively. �Bharat Kesri� Jagdish Kali Raman played to his potential and successfully defended his title.    

Calcutta, Oct. 30: 
Barring a last-minute change of heart, on the part of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), former New Zealand captain John Wright will be India�s next coach.

The announcement is expected Thursday, after Wright�s financial package is cleared by the BCCI�s finance committee.

According to The Telegraph�s sources, Wright�s appointment will initially be for one year, but the option for extending the contract till the 2003 World Cup will almost surely be there in black-and-white.

One learns Wright may take charge in the next fortnight itself, ahead of the first India-Zimbabwe Test in New Delhi, from November 18.

Wright and ex-Australian captain Greg Chappell were interviewed in Chennai last week. Australia�s 1999 World Cup-winning coach Geoff Marsh will be interviewed tomorrow, in Mumbai.

Marsh�s interview will be conducted by the same panel: BCCI president A.C. Muthiah, secretary Jaywant Lele, former president Raj Singh Dungarpur, National Cricket Academy director Hanumant Singh and former captain Srinivas Venkatraghavan.

Both Wright and Marsh were well-placed till the latter himself opted out (citing �family reasons�) a fortnight back. Though Marsh did a U-turn, offering his services again, this dilly-dallying saw him concede much ground to Wright.

Only a most �extraordinary� presentation (at the interview) and �practical� terms, will actually see Marsh back in the race.

Chappell, in any case, was never quite a serious contender.

Not because the powers-that-be need to be convinced about Chappell�s credentials, but because he is �too high-profile� and the possibility of ego-related differences between him and the team�s senior pros cannot be discounted.

�We have at least two superstars (captain Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar) and the last thing we would like is disharmony of any kind in the dressing room,� explained a well-placed source.

Chappell has been South Australia�s coach from the 1998-99 season.

Wright, on the other hand, is seen as a �focussed, low-key operator,� who has earned excellent marks in man-management at Kent, the County he has been involved with for some years.

In fact, when there apparently were major differences between Martin Crowe and Warren Lees, captain and coach, respectively, during the 1992 World Cup, the mediator�s role was assigned to senior pro Wright.

Obviously, Wright is highly regarded as a �thinker�, too.    

Calcutta, Oct. 30: 
Till Syed Saba Karim read today�s edition of The Telegraph, he himself didn�t think he was a contender for the Test wicketkeeper�s slot.

Had no inkling he would be captain Sourav Ganguly�s choice.

By the evening, Saba Karim, 32, had made it to the Dhaka-bound XIV for the one-off Test against Bangladesh, from November 10.

He will, obviously, be among the oldest India Test debutants.

The team selection report, this morning, talked about the possibility of Sourav specifically �asking� for Saba Karim � a move which would bring the East Zone and Bengal wicketkeeper very much into the frame.

�Honestly, this selection has come as a very pleasant surprise... And, yes, it�s ironical that my Test debut will be at the very ground (Dhaka�s National Stadium) where my career almost ended (following the eye injury during this summer�s Asia Cup),� Saba Karim remarked.

He added: �Of course, I�ve played 34 one-day Internationals, but Test cricket is the real thing... It�s what I�ve been waiting for all these years. I�m happy the wait has ended...�

Getting emotional, Saba Karim �requested� that the effort put in by the Shankar Netralaya doctors (in Chennai), specially Gopal and Vijaya, be mentioned in these columns.

�They worked wonders... They helped me return to the game (after the Dhaka mishap)... Today, however, I�m using contacts but that won�t be an impediment,� he pointed out.

Incidentally, Saba Karim, who leaves for Mumbai tomorrow for a Times Shield match, will turn 33 on the last day of the Test (November 14).    


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