John making the right moves
Orissa, Bihar post victories
Manoj Kothari regains title
Rebels, AIFF sign truce
Chowrasia�s team wins
Ram Bahadur passes away
Sourav may opt out of last 2 ties
Calcutta Racing/ Annella may do the trick again
Calcutta Races/ Track trials

Ahmedabad, Dec. 5: 
John Wright has made the players sweat like never before, but Indian cricket�s first overseas coach isn�t just an uncompromising taskmaster.

There is a softer side to the former New Zealand captain as well. More than that, being conscious that only a harmonious dressing-room will ensure the best results, he hasn�t pulled back from initiating what may seem to be small but very significant moves.

Like, for instance, reminding teammates it wouldn�t be a bad idea if all assembled outside the Kotla dressing-room and collectively applauded Shiv Sundar Das on reaching his maiden Test fifty.

As former Board president Raj Singh Dungarpur observed the other day: �No coach had thought of something as simple as that. Perhaps, they didn�t think it necessary� Wright did and has set the tone.�

For his part, speaking to The Telegraph at the Taj Residency last evening, Wright described his opening three weeks with the team as a �good learning experience.� Elaborating, he said: �The emphasis has been on getting to know players better and indentifying areas I need to really work on.�

Wright added: �Actually, it�s been a two-way traffic as the players, too, have got to know me better; have, by now, appreciated the work ethic I hold dear. Also, they are getting familiar with my expectations.�

Grinning, Wright continued: �At times, I�ve received strange looks but, really, that�s only been because somebody was assigned three extra laps!�

However, has he himself got used to a system which doesn�t exactly ooze professionalism?

Wright responded with a smile: �Patience is a great virtue to possess� I do have some ideas of my own, which I�ll put down on paper after this series. Already, I am happy with the degree of interaction with, for instance, the selectors.�

Yet, in these first few weeks itself, Wright has seen a major controversy from close quarters � the selection of Nikhil Chopra who, officially, will only be eligible to play after being cleared by BCCI commissioner K. Madhavan.

Wright wouldn�t be drawn into the fiasco, but pointed out there still was a �positive side� to the issue. �The very fact Nikhil is in the squad has given me the opportunity to look at one more player� Yes, it�s an unusual situation � only, such glitches, as I would put it, are part of the game.�

The coach�s own approach, generally, has been to �look, listen and move gradually.� Wright added: �Believe me, I�ve been very impressed with the youngsters and the boys from the (National Cricket) Academy will soon run even the established ones close.�

Wright intends returning to New Zealand soon after the Zimbabawe series ends (Rajkot, December 14), and will be back in early January. Of course, plans will change should New Delhi have a rethink on the tour of Pakistan and grant clearance.

That�s a possibility.    

Calcutta, Dec. 5: 
Orissa and Bihar posted comfortable victories in the East Zone Wills Trophy qualifiers today. At the Eden, Orissa completed their second successive win, beating Assam by 50 runs. At the CC&FC, Bihar humbled Tripura by eight wickets.

A fifth-wicket partnership of 123 between Prabhanjan Mallik and P. Jayachandra helped Orissa recover from 94 for four and reach 249 for seven in 50 overs after being put in. Mallik scored an unbeaten 83 (97 bals, 6x4) and Jayachandra 52 (67 balls, 1x4).

The Assam reply never really took off as they limped to 87 for five by the 20th over with former India paceman Debashish Mohanty taking two quick wickets.

Wicketkeeper Vinayak Samant, who opened the innings, scored a combative 84 to prevent a total collapse. He hit eight fours and was the ninth man out at 153.

At the CC&FC, Bihar won the toss and restricted Tripura to 198 for eight in 50 overs. Anshuman Raj took four for 39. Chetan Sachdeva and Rajib Dutta added 95 for the fifth wicket to rescue Tripura from 48 for four.

Bihar openers Nikhilesh Ranjan and M.S. Dhoni (84) put on 69 and the latter put on 75 more with Tariqur Rehman for the second wicket. Rehman and skipper Rajiv Raja reached the target with 12.1 overs to spare.


At Eden: Orissa 249/7 in 50 ovs (P. Mallik 83 n.o., P. Jayachandra 52, G. Dutta 2/47, J. Zaman 2/37). Assam 199 in 46.4 ovs (V. Samant 84, S. Subramaniyam 27, D. Mohanty 2/31, S. Satpathy 2/42). Orissa won by 50 runs.

At CC&FC: Tripura 198/8 in 50 ovs (C. Sachdeva 70 n.0., R. Dutta 44, A. Raj 4/39). Bihar 202/2 in 37.5 ovs (N. Ranjan 42, M.S. Dhoni 84, Tariqur Rehman 51 n.o.). Bihar won by 8 wkts.    

Calcutta, Dec. 5: 
Manoj Kothari regained the state senior billiards championship title with a 1421-1115 victory over Mohammed Asim this evening at the YMCA, College Branch.

Asim started well but Kothari fought back with breaks of 123, 131 and 95 to take a lead of 823-514 after the first session. Kothari made breaks of 136, 85 and 95 in the second session to seal the title.

Junior ranking tennis

The Adhip Mukerjea Memorial all-India junior ranking tennis meet will be held at the Jaidip Mukerjea Tennis Academy, Salt Lake, from December 9 to 16.

The meet is sponsored by Indian Oil and competitions will be held in under-16 and under-14 categories for boys and girls. Four trainees of the academy will take part, the first time they will do so in a national ranking meet. All have been given wild cards.

Ramesh Krishnan�s daughters, Nandita and Gayathri, will also be present. While Nandita is in the under-14 main draw, Gayathri will have to come through the qualifiers. The total scholarship money for the tournament is Rs 75,000. The following are the two top seeds in each division.

BOYS: U-16: V. Vignesh (AP), Dhruv Kumar (Ben). U-14: Anshuman Dutta (Asm), Somdeep Appineni (AP). GIRLS: U-16: Priyanka Parekh (Ben), Ragini Vimal (Ben). U-14: Oormila Ram (AP), K. Fatima Baig (TN).

Merchants� tennis

IBP-BL and CESC A reached the final of the IBP Merchants� Cup tennis meet. In today�s semi-finals, IBP-BL beat M.N. Dastur 2-0, while CESC A defeated CESC B by the same margin.    

New Delhi, Dec. 5: 
It took a marathon four-hour meeting in the capital today to finally resolve the the 25-day stand-off between the AIFF and the newly-formed Indian Premier Football Association (IPFA).

In the end, it was an amicable settlement with both groups relenting on certain issues and reaching an agreement on revenue-sharing, composition of the National Football League (NFL) Committee and calendar of events.

The IPFA�s demand for a Memorandum of Understanding was not agreed to. But IPFA president Vijay Mallya said that issues were settled in an atmosphere of trust and goodwill.

AIFF president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi and Mallya agreed to commence the fifth edition of the NFL on December. 14. All the original 12 clubs will take part and the opener will feature champions Mohun Bagan and JCT. The match, to be held at the Ambedkar Stadium here, will will be treated as JCT�s home match. The new fixtures will be released tomorrow.

The League will break on December 22 for the Millenium Cup national camp which will begin the next day. The meet will resume on January 21, 2001.

The AIFF president added that in case India�s World Cup qualifying matches with UAE, Brunei and Yemen � slated for the second week of March � are not postponed, the NFL may have another break. In that case, the League will conclude end of April.

The IPFA got its pound of flesh in the composition of the NFL committtee and sharing of revenue. Representatives of the first six clubs of the fourth NFL � Mohun Bagan, Churchill Brothers, Salgaocar, F.C. Kochin, JCT and Mahindra United � will be in the committee. The representative of the champion club (Mohun Bagan�s Anjan Mitra) will henceforth be vice-chairman of the NFL committee.

Mallya said an IPFA representative will be on the AIFF finance committee and he will have cheque-signing authority. For this season, Shivanand Salgaocar has been chosen.

As regards sharing of revenue, Das Munshi stated that after deducting expnses for conducting the NFL, all surplus profit will be shared between the premier clubs and the AIFF. He stated that the clubs will get 80 per cent and the AIFF 20 per cent.

Mallya clarified that all revenue will be shared on a 50-50 basis this season and on a 80-20 ratio from the next season.

To ensure the NFL is spectator and television-friendly, several matches will be played under floddlights. The AIFF and IPFA will negotiate with private TV companies and strike a package deal.

Guidelines will also be worked out to decide status of players in the premier clubs of India. So, from the next season, some will be classified as professionals and others amateurs. For professional players, clubs will be entitled for compensation in case of transfers.

The AIFF has also promised to release the national calendar for the 2001-2002 season within a week of completion of the fifth NFL.

Those attending today�s meeting for AIFF (Das Munshi apart) were P.P. Lakshmanan, Praful Patel, Mohammed Khaleel and Alberto Colaco.

IPFA was represented by Mallya, Anjan Mitra, Shivanand Salgaocar, Henry Britto, Alan Durante and Kalyan Ganguly.    

Calcutta, Dec. 5: 
Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia and Raju Ali were the stars in the pro-am event of the Rs 8.5 lakh Servo Masters at the Digboi Club Golf Links today.

According to information received here, Chowrasia and his team of L.W. Khongwir and S.N. Borah tallied 113 points with Chowrasia carding 38 which amounts to two-under 70.

Raju Ali recorded the best individual score of the day, three-under 69, to win Rs 1,500. Ali Sher�s team was third (108).

Parnita in lead

Parnita Grewal of Chandigarh carded a level-par 70 to emerge sole leader after Round I in the 39th Ladies Eastern India Amateur Golf Open at Tollygunge Club.

Shalini Mallik was trailing Parnita by three strokes and at joint third with 74 were Irina Brar, Shruti Khanna and Vandana Agarwal.    

Calcutta, Dec. 5: 
Former midfielder and member of the 1962 Asian Games gold medal-winning Indian football team, Ram Bahadur Thapa, died in Vadodara after a cardiac arrest yesterday. He was 65.

He was cremated in Vadodara today. A left-half, Ram Bahadur spent the major part of his career here, playing for East Bengal from 1957 to 1967.

The club flag was at half mast today and a minute�s silence was observed before morning practice. A condolence meeting will be held soon, club officials said.

Former great P.K. Banerjee, under whom Ram Bahadur played in the 1960 Rome Olympics, said the ever jovial medio was the finest teamman and a perfect gentleman.

�Whatever the situation, the trademark smile never abandoned him and he was never nervous,� Banerjee recalled. �He was the one who always kept the dressing room alive.�

Banerjee remembered him as a player who always played fair and never resorted to unfair means. He paid a tribute to his agility and said his recovery time after sliding tackles was amazing. He also praised his endurance.

�He was not a gifted ball player but made it up with his power and game sense. And he was an extremely consistent player who preferred doing things in his own silent manner,� Banerjee observed.

Ram Bahadur made way for Prasanta Sinha in the national team 1964 onwards. His last trip to the city was three months back when he attended a felicitation function at East Bengal. Based in Dehradun, he retired as an ONGC officer.

TT umpire dead

Dilip Bhattacharya, an international table tennis umpire, died in a city hospital this morning. He was 49 and suffering from a liver ailment. Bhattacharya, an UBI employee, officiated in the 1999 SAF Games in Kathmandu. He was also the joint-secretary of the Hooghly District Table Tennis Association. He is survuived by his wife and a son.    

Ahmedabad, Dec. 5: 
Sourav Ganguly has plans for a short holiday in Mauritius, once the Zimbabwe series ends (December 14), and should the ball continue to roll India�s way � it did, again, in nearby Motera today � the Indian captain and wife Dona should enjoy every minute.

However, there�s a bit of a scare regarding Sourav�s back but, hopefully, neither should the �stiffness� actually force a lay-off nor mar a well-earned vacation.

Sourav, though, is going to play it by-the-ear.

Speaking to The Telegraph, shortly after the emphatic 61-run win over Zimbabwe in the Pepsi series, he said: �I�ve been feeling stiff and, if it comes to that, may take a break after the third game (Jodhpur, Friday). Of course, I�ll only consider doing so once we�ve taken an unbeatable (3-0) lead.�

Sourav, who bagged yet another MoM award (it was assured after he smashed his 16th ODI hundred), left the field within 15 overs of the second session and the captaincy was taken care of by best buddy Rahul Dravid, the vice-captain.

By being at his punishing best, especially in the second-half of his 152-deliveries� innings (8x4, 6x6), Sourav put the match out of Zimbabwe�s reach long before the visiting team�s openers took guard.

Sourav, however, didn�t think his 144 this morning � seventh ODI hundred of the year � was among his best. �In any case, what I really look forward to is scoring Test hundreds,� Sourav pointed out. He already has seven such knocks to his credit.

Though it was the Sourav-initiated acceleration which saw India zoom in the slog overs, the captain complimented Yuvraj Singh, Sunil Joshi and Hemang Badani for keeping the momentum with �exciting, clean hitting.�

As Sourav put it: �I got out in the 45th over, when we were 240-odd. Yet, the last five saw over 60 runs being accumulated. All credit, therefore, to the Joshis who completed the job��

Clearly, it�s a feature of Sourav�s captaincy to praise youngsters. More important, they don�t let him, and India, down. Generally speaking, however, India must cut down the gifting of sundries (36 this afternoon).

Meanwhile, clearing the mystery over Ajit Agarkar�s exclusion, Sourav clarified the quick was dropped because of a side-strain. �Ajit complained of pain last night itself, but we gave him time till this morning (to recover). As there was no improvement, Ajit had to be omitted. I hope he�ll be fit for Friday.�

If Agarkar isn�t, Sourav�s choice for the first XI will narrow down to XII. Already, after all, there�s this unofficial ban on Nikhil Chopra, who has been in the squad from Cuttack itself.    

Calcutta, Dec. 5: 
Its best to ignore last Friday�s disastrous results and look ahead. A couple of good things in tromorrow�s six-event-card may help recover losses. Start the day with Splendid Star in the Red Chieftan Handicap. The Daniel David-trainee ran a blinder in his previous outing.

Annella in the main event, the Time Machine Cup, also appeals to be a good thing. The Steinbeck-Anelisa daughter, though tightly placed by the revised weights against Stately Don, the three-year-old filly is bound to show more improvement vis-a-vis the six-year-old Daniel David-trainee. Jockey Cristopher Alford may, however, have to be alert on the Vijay Singh-trained filly.

The 2,000m Bengal Area Cup may see top-weight Harry The Horse, again dictating the terms after his narrow victory over a 1,600m trip.

Read as: Horse number, last four runs, horse name, trainer, jockey, weight & draw:

1st Race at 1.15 p.m.
Paddy�s Darling Handicap 1,100m (Cl V�Rated 00-28) � Indian jockeys only

1 1000 Flying Power [Karki] Rutherford A. 60.5 6

2 4001 Tequila Shot [Bath] S. Shanker 59.0 3
3 0230 Run Ahead [Mujeeb] Md Islam 58.5 4
4 - - 00 Breezealla [Jaiswal] N. Bird 56.5 1
5 ---- Sixteensixtyfour [Vijay] Surender S. 56.5 5
6 - - -1 Relative Shade [Daniel] B. Prakash 52.0 2
1. Sixteen Sixtyfour (5) 2. Tequila Shot (2) 3. Relative Shade (6)
Sixteen Sixtyfour: Although running after a long lay-off he is working well and has class to beat this field. Tequila Shot: In line for an encore. Relative Shade: May place.

2nd Race at 1.55 p.m.

Red Chieftan Handicap 1,100m (Cl IV; 5-y-o & over, Rt. 22-50)�Indian jockeys only

1 - - -0 Come True [Daniel] A. Imran K. 60.0 3

2 1333 Constantine [Karki] M. Reuben 59.5 5
3 0004 All Jade [Stephens] Rutherford A. 57.5 7
4 2001 Work Order [Mujeeb] Surender S. 57.0 4
5 0000 Falconaire [R. Alford] Salim K. 55.5 9
6 - - -3 Splendid Star [Daniel] B. Prakash 54.5 6
7 1000 Neelanjana [Mujeeb] Sher S. 53.0 8
8 0244 Floral Path [Bath] Md Islam 52.0 1
9 2003 Heaven�s Blessing [Bath] S. Shanker 51.0 2
1. Splendid Star (6) 2. Constantine (2) 3. All Jade (3)
Splendid Star: Could have troubled the winner, No Regrets, had he been ridden judiciously in last start. Constantine: Good for place-money. All Jade: May place.

3rd Race at 2.25 p.m.

Time Machine Cup 1,100m (Cl II, Rt. 66-94)

1 0020 No Surrender [Javed] M. Reuben 61.0 3

2 0000 Quickdraw Mcgraw [Karki] Rutherford A. 57.0 2
3 - - 40 Addab [Mujeeb] Dalpat S. 54.0 4
4 - 101 Aznavour [Stephens] N. Connorton 52.0 6
5 - - -2 Stately Don [Daniel] B. Prakash 51.0 5
6 4343 Amarante [Vijay] Md Amil 49.0 7
7 - 211 Annella [Vijay] C. Alford 48.0 1
1. Annella (7) 2. Stately Don (5) 3. Aznavour (4)
Annella: A three-in-a-row winner. May do the trick again. Stately Don: A six year-old at a weight advantage against an improving three-year-old. Aznavour: May place.

4th Race at 2.55 p.m.

Bengal Area Cup 2,000m (Cl III; Cl IV�Rt. 22-72)

1 - 211 Harry The Horse [Stephens] N. Connorton 60.0 6

2 - - -2 Beau Bruno [Daniel] B. Prakash 59.5 4
3 - - 32 Ace Os Spades [Daniel] A. Imran K. 53.5 1
4 3111 Lockers Park [Bharath] S. Rabani 50.5 2
5 0402 Black Mane [Karki.] M. Reuben 50.0 3
6 - - 41 Alkido [Bharath] C. Alford 47.5 5
1. Harry The Horse (1) 2. Lockers Park (4) 3. Ace Of Spades (3)
Harry The Horse: Won a mile from the start. Known to do better over the extended trips and the heavy-impost may not pose problem. Lockers Park: Heading for a hattrick of wins and the slated trip is well within his reach. Ace Of Spades: May place.

5th Race at 3.30 p.m.

Viscol Handicap 1,400m (Cl V�Rt. 00-28)� Indian jockeys only

1 3400 American [Karki] Md Yacoob 61.0 6

2 - - -0 Bhuthnath [Rodrigues] G. Upadhya 61.0 2
3 - 432 Alygator [Vijay] C. Alford 60.5 9
4 4000 Go With The Wind [R. Alford] K. Gurang 58.0 4
5 - 012 Eau Savage [Bath] S. Shanker 57.0 8
6 ---- Consul�s Secret [Jaiswal] (Withdrawn) 56.5 --
7 - - 00 Double Cross [Mujeeb] Haroon K. 56.0 7
8 4144 Crest Star [Goenka] Md Yasin 54.0 1
9 3023 Ballard Lady [Daniel] B. Prakash 50.0 10
10 3430 Adeline [Daniel] Md Amil 49.5 5
11 4444 Fibonacci [Stephens] S. Paswan 47.0 3
1. Eau Savage (5) 2. Alygator (3) 3. Ballard Lady (9)
Eau Savage: Looking much improved since his monsoon campaign. May strike. Alygator: May go better over the present trip. Ballard Lady: Upset, if any.

6th Race at 4.05 p.m.

Flaming ORB Handicap 1,200m (Cl IV�Rt. 22-5o)

1 - - 00 Soldier�s Dream [Daniel] Som S. 60.5 11

2 - 213 Ispahan [Stephens] N. Connorton 60.5 15
3 0000 Super Smile [Bharath] Dalpat S. 59.5 5
4 - 104 Country Cousin [R. Alford] P. Alford 58.0 10
5 - - 44 Wandering Warrior [D. Byramji] C. Alford 58.0 13
6 1300 Glass Slipper [Stephens] G. Upadhya 57.5 1
7 0000 Rheinheart [Bath] Haroon K. 56.5 7
8 - - 00 Sadaf [Daniel] A. Imran K. 56.0 6
9 1040 Red Trident [R. Alford] Rutherford A. 55.5 12
10 2112 Orbital Star [Daniel] Brij Shaw 55.0 4
11 - - 40 Rule With Honour [Javed] M. Reuben 53.5 2