Chance for Kirsten as Sourav sits out
Paul Condon promises a �robust inquiry�
Paes-Bhupathi campaign off to winning start
Mohun Bagan start favourites vs JCT
Ranjit in lead
Doubles apathy dismays Stolle
Manoj Roy top scorer on Day 1
We played as a team: Paes
Mumbai Racing/ Yewall may come good again
Calcutta Racing/ Baffin Bay, So Royal impress

Calcutta, Dec.13: 
The one-game ban on India captain Sourav Ganguly has not only come as a boon for Zimbabwe, it may work to Gary Kirsten�s advantage, too.

Kirsten, after all, is the only batsman who could realistically overtake Sourav�s ODI tally of 1,579 runs (average 56.39) in the calender year 2000.

With two matches in hand (versus Sri Lanka in Port Elizabeth and East London), Kirsten is today 176 adrift of Sourav.

Of course, to eclipse Sourav, the South African will have to do much better than maintain his current (2000) average of 45.25.

�Frankly, I didn�t realise I was No.1... In any case, there�s nothing I can do about adding to my year�s aggregate... It�s out of my hands and, so, I�m not even going to think about it,� Sourav told The Telegraph, when contacted at the team hotel in Rajkot.

Sourav, it may be recalled, was the most prolific run-getter in ODIs last year (a total of 1,767) as well as 1997 (1,338). In 1998, he finished second behind Sachin Tendulkar, who posted a phenomenal 1,894 runs.

This year, Sachin is ranked third, with 1,301.

Kirsten�s best year-end finish in the last five years was back in 1996, when he totalled 1,442 to take the No.3 spot after Sachin and Saeed Anwar.

But whether Kirsten leaves him in the shade or not, Sourav won�t forget 2000 in a hurry: Seven of his 16 ODI hundreds have come in the year about-to-end. Additionally, Sourav posted six of his 35 fifties.

Match Referee Barry Jarman�s verdict, though, has shifted the focus elsewhere. Besides the ban which has ruled Sourav out of tomorrow�s fifth and final one-dayer, there is a two-game suspended sentence as well, operative till June 1 next.

In other words, should Sourav be held guilty of any breach of the Code of Conduct between now and June 1, even once, he will have to sit out for two matches.

�There�s little for me to say... Did I get carried away with the appealing (in Kanpur)? Well, I don�t wish to talk about it... All I�ll say is that I�ve been a witness to bowlers abusing umpires on their face...

�Tomorrow, I can only cheer my team as I�ve been reduced to the status of a spectator. I�ll keep myself busy that way,� Sourav remarked, in an unusually bland tone.

As wicketkeeper Vijay Dahiya has also been ticked off (a one-game suspended sentence) by Jarman, will he (and stand-in captain Rahul Dravid) ask the players to take it easy?

Sourav responded in a flash, quicker than he would to one overpitched on off: �We�ll play aggressively but, yes, within the laws.� The India captain, clearly, hasn�t been too impressed by Jarman.

Incidentally, Jarman had turned both deaf and blind when Allan Donald unleashed a verbal assault on Dravid during the tri-series final in Durban, in early 1997.

Donald wasn�t even summoned for a hearing. And, in Kanpur, Bryan Strang was only �spoken to� by the Match Referee.

Sourav�s conduct isn�t to be condoned, equally, there�s certainly a case for Match Referees to be even-handed.


New Delhi, Dec. 13: 
ICC ani-corruption unit head Paul Condon today told newsmen that his team can go in for �a robust inquiry� into the match-fixing issue (especially regarding foreign players), now that his team has gathered enough information on this.

�We have got up-to-date information on foreign players,� he said, after his team met Union law minister Arun Jaitley, Union Sports minister Uma Bharati and K.K. Paul, head of New Delhi Police.

He said that by April 2001, specific suggestions will be made on how to curb the menace of fixed matches, spread betting and internet betting.

In this regard, a two-member ICC team had gone to South Africa and had interviewed sacked skipper Hansie Cronje. Condon added that Cronje�s attitude was helpful and constructive.

Move to amend laws

Meanwhile, Union minister for youth affairs and sports Uma Bharati today said the government is proposing some changes in provisions of law to incorporate issues like match fixing, adds UNI.

�Changes in law will have to be made definitely. Some suggestions have been made to the law ministry,� Bharati told reporters after meeting the members of the ICC team, here in connection with investigations into match fixing.

�There is no clarity in law on such an issue (match fixing) as nobody visualised that such a thing could ever happen... It is like the law is silent on a foreigner becoming the Prime Minister of the country. Now the time has come to incorporate the necessary changes in law,� the minister said.


Bangalore, Dec. 13: 
Donald Johnson and Piet Norval turned on the heat when it mattered most to give their Gold Flake ATP World Doubles Championship campaign the right launch this evening. Up against the dangerous American duo of Alex O�Brien and Jared Palmer in the tough Gold group, Johnson and Norval played a brilliant tie-break to post a 7-5, 7-6 (9-7) win over the third seeds.

Johnson, the left-handed American who has developed his doubles quite a few notches from the time he visited Calcutta four years ago, did a lot of damage with his forehand returns and sharp net interceptions.

Norval, from South Africa, was the ideal foil with his solid all-court game. And who would have said they are a five-month old combination.

It was a low, angled Johnson return which broke the deadlock in the tight first set. Serving to force a tie-break, Palmer came across a set of aggressive rivals and couldn�t hold serve.

Both teams displayed all their doubles skills in front of a none-too-big crowd. The sharp net exchanges, incredible retrievals, service return winners and the kick serves were on show and it did look part of the world championship alright � unlike the first match.

The teams traded a service break each before getting locked in an exciting tie-break. O�Brien manufactured the first mini-break with a two-handed backhand crosscourt winner off Johnson�s serve.

Johnson made amends, levelling things with a forehand lob played late enough to deny the rivals any early back-pedalling.

Both teams saved a set-point each before Palmer netted a low volley to set up match-point. No. 2. Johnson and Norval didn�t miss out this time.

�It was a typically close doubles match which could have gone either way,� O�Brien said later. �I played a bad service game while serving for the second set at 5-4. Had I held then, we could have ended up on the winning side.�

Aussies stretched

Fourth seeds Joshua Eagle and Andrew Florent were swiftly off the blocks but had only themselves to blame for a three-set ordeal against Jaime Oncins and Daniel Orsanic.

The Aussies let the Brazilian-Argentine duo feel its way into the match and almost committed hara-kiri in the final set before coming through 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 in an hour and 45 minutes.

Given the honour of kicking off this momentous event at the KSLTA Stadium, Eagle and Florent ran through the first five games in next to no time, breaking Oncins and Orsanic once each.

The Aussies took in their stride the slight distraction caused by the light-and-shade effect of the stadium roof at the southern end, getting a lot of their first serves in and looking sharp on the volleys.

�Yeah, the shadow was a problem,� Eagle said at the post-match conference. �We have complained to the officials and explained them the problem.�

The tall Orsanic led the Latin revival, turning things around from 0-40 in the sixth game to hold serve for the first time. And with Florent serving for the set, Orsanic put enough pressure on the return to force a break-point.

The bald-headed Aussie survived that mini crisis and converted the fourth set-point to be on course for what looked like an easy win.

The set didn�t close on a happy note for Oncins as he was slapped a code violation warning by Irish chair umpire Fergus Murphy. It looked a harsh penalty as the racket slipped out of the Brazilian�s hand in his attempt to reach a steep lob and fell on the lap of a young fan. She caught it coolly and relayed it back to Oncins, but the umpire thought otherwise. Oncins tried in vain to explain that his action was anything but deliberate.

To his credit, Oncins and Orsanic didn�t let that incident affect their concentration. The two 30-year-olds with loads of Davis Cup experience did well to settle down early in the second set.

They cut down on the errors and soon found Eagle committing a couple to lose serve in Game 3. That was all the South Americans needed to capture the second set and even scores.

The decider was a patchy affair, with errors mounting on both sides. Orsanic was the first to drop serve, as early as in the second game. Florent, whose serve was shaky almost throughout the match, threw in a double-fault on break-point to bring Oncins and Orsanic back on even keel.

In the very next game, Oncins returned the compliment to lose serve with a double-fault. Serving for the match at 5-3, Florent cracked again.

His sixth double-fault made it 0-40 and then he pushed a low volley into the net to hand Oncins and Orsanic another reprieve. But the Latin Americans refused to avail of the new lease of life. Orsanic, as if saying enough was enough, surrendered serve to end the comedy of errors.

The final set had seen five service breaks and that was a fair reflection of the quality of tennis from two of the world championship debutants.


New Delhi, Dec. 13: 
The fifth edition of the National Football League (NFL) commences here tomorrow with Mohun Bagan taking on Jagatjit Cotton and Textile Mills (Phagwara).

Quite conforming to the reputation of the AIFF, though, the league starts without a sponsor, without a confirmed chief guest and without any hoardings or publicity.

With Parliament and political issues keeping Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and the rest busy, no dignitary is available. The ultimate irony is that AIFF president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi also may be able to only briefly attend (if at all) the match. Das Munshi is the chief whip of the Congress party in Parliament.

Even the television deal has been a disaster. There is a deferred telecast of the opening match. It is not even being shown on the same day but instead, on Friday. The Rajkot India-Zimbabwe one-dayer seems to have come in the way.

Short on practice

Mohun Bagan coach Subrata Bhattacharya is worried about the lack of match practise and complacency among his players. He said his main task is to revive morale and fighting spirit. On JCT, Subrata said: �They do not have great players like Inder Singh or Harjinder Singh but they are fit, run a lot and a difficult team to beat.�

Bagan intend to play with Joao Dos Santos as the lone striker. Jose Ramirez Baretto and dashing winger R.C. Prakash will be the support front-runners. Bhatacharya intends to stick with the playing eleven of the Durand final, so there is no place for Renedy Singh in the first XI. Debjit Ghosh and Renedy are likely substitutes.

R. P. Singh�s dash and workrate will be used to blunt JCT�s main playmaker left midfielder Hardip Sangha.

Bhattacharya�s major dilemma is to decide between in-form goalkeepers Sandip Nandy and Kalyan Choubey.

Both teams have met once before this season in the IFA Shield semi-final. Bagan won that tie 1-0 with Basudeb Mondal scoring in the 36th minute.

JCT look for a draw

JCT coach Sukhwinder Singh admitted that Bagan start as favourites. He wants his players to play a tight and disciplined game to try and get a draw. Sukhwinder is glad that left back Daljeet Singh is fit now but says that international Prabhjot Singh will be missed. Newcomer Pawan Kumar and Ranjit Singh will team up with Daljeet and veteran Tarsem Lal in JCT�s back four. JCT will defend in depth and rely on long ball counter attacks as their game plan.


Mohun Bagan (from): Sandip Nandy/Kalyan Choubey, Dulal Biswas, Hussein Mustafi, M. Suresh, Lolendro Singh, Basudeb Mondal, Amouri da Silva, R.P. Singh, Jose Ramirez Baretto, Joao Dos Santos and R.C. Prakash.

JCT (from): Baljit Singh/Arvind Kumar, Tarsem Lal, Pawan Kumar, Ranjit Singh, Daljeet Singh, Hardip Saini, Jaswant Singh, Rampal and Hardip Sangha, Hardip Singh Gill and Jagjit Randhawa.

Uzbek for East Bengal

Meanwhile, like Mohun Bagan did last season, East Bengal are also trying to rope in a member of the 1994 Asian Games champion Uzbekistan side, adds a Staff Reporter in Calcutta. Midfielder Ilhom Sharipov is expected to arrive Friday along with striker Olim Talliev. The striker, though an international, was not a member of the 1994 squad which beat China in the final in Hiroshima.

Mohun Bagan�s Uzebek recruit last year, Igor Shkivrin, was also a part of the Hiroshima squad and emerged NFL top scorer last season.


Calcutta, Dec. 13: 
Local lad Ranjit Singh jumped into the lead in division A with a 77 at the end of the second day of the East India junior/sub-junior golf championship at the RCGC.

Overnight leader Manav Jain followed behind.

Arjun Malhotra leads by a seven-stroke margin over Amanjyot Singh in the division D.

Junior tennis

Gayatri Krishnan lost to Priyanka Parekh in the under-16 pre-quarter finals of the Adhip Mukerjea memorial AITA junior meet today.

THE WINNERS (all quarter finals)

BOYS: Under-16: Dhruv Kumar, V. Vignesh, Gaurav Sundar, L.S. Ananthabhaskar, Anshuman Dutta, M.V. Abhay Prakash, Somdeep Appineni, H. Hariprasath.

GIRLS: Under-16: Priyanka Parekh, S. Poonam Reddy, Sandri Gangotri, K. Fathima Baig, Oormila Ram, Parul Goswami, K. Pooja, Ragini Vimal. Under-14: Sandri Gangotri, Bhavani Tirmurti, K. Pooja, Parul Goswami, Oormila Ram, K. Fathima Baig.

Ezra Cup

Army Service Corps defeated Fort William Polo Club 7-4 in the Ezra Cup today. For the winners, Captain Navjit scored four goals, Captain Pandher two and Captain Shakti one.    

Bangalore, Dec. 13: 
Of the 16 players in fray at the World Doubles Championship, Sandon Stolle arrived last. On Davis Cup final duty in Barcelona last weekend, he caught a flight out of Spain Sunday night and landed in the Garden City last morning.

But that�s not something which sets him apart as a different breed. Any tennis professional worth his salt has to be prepared for a hectic, jet-hopping life. What is special about Sandon is his pedigree.

The son of Aussie great Fred Stolle, Sandon has tennis culture embedded deep in his roots.

�I am lucky to have grown up in a fantastic ambience where my father, his fellow-countrymen and the likes of Vijay Amritraj were greatly respected for their tennis as well as their values,� Sandon said during a chat with The Telegraph. �Unfortunately, those values are missing now.�

Top players of his era are not interested in the Davis Cup, they don�t give doubles any importance as earning money is the lone motive, the 30-year-old Sydneysider observed. �It�s unfortunate that players these days see singles and doubles differently. To me they are both integral parts of tennis,� said Sandon who has had much more success in doubles than singles in a career spanning 10 years.

�I hear players complaining of too much tennis and too many matches as an excuse for avoiding doubles. I think that�s ridiculous. In my father�s time, they all played singles and doubles week in and week out without cribbing one bit. And remember, there were no tie-breaks at that time,� Sandon argued.

He used two contemporary examples to establish the importance of doubles. �Yevgeny Kafelnikov is a top-10 singles player but plays doubles regularly. Why does he do that? Because it helps improve his singles. Take Lleyton Hewitt. He has played a lot of doubles this year and we can all see he�s an improved player,� Sandon said.

Lamenting the ATP�s indifferent approach towards doubles, Sandon lauded Indians for promoting Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi in a big way. �You have two of the best players in the world and it�s good to see them getting so much coverage in the media. I wish the ATP and other countries follow suit. That�ll help revive doubles the world over.�

A late starter on the ATP Tour, Sandon went to a US university (majoring in marketing, business and earning all-America honours in doubles) before turning pro at the age of 21. The expectations were huge, stepping as he was into the shoes of a father who owned two singles and ten doubles Grand Slam crowns.

He broke into the top-100 of singles in his second full year but couldn�t quite maintain that ranking for a substantially long period. With success in doubles coming early, it didn�t take long for Sandon to realise where his future was. He never gave up singles, though, having two decent years in 1996 and �97 when he won 46 matches to break back into the top-100. It was during this streak that he rose as high as No. 50 and made his only final appearance (96 Nottingham Open). �I am clear in my mind that I always gave my best and enjoyed both forms of the game,� said Sandon.

An extremely versatile doubles player, the six-foot-four New South Welshman has had success with an amazing number of partners. His 15 career titles have come with, believe it or not, ten different partners, the latest being Paul Haarhuis.

�I have enjoyed playing with all the guys but none more so than with Paul. It�s a pity we won�t be together next year. We�ve had a wonderful year (seven finals, one title) and I�ll do all I can to give Paul a wonderful farewell gift,� Sandon said of Haarhuis who�ll play only Davis Cup and two or three Tour meets next year. The Aussie will team up with Canadian Daniel Nestor.

Describing the Davis Cup final loss to Spain as one of his most disappointing events of his career (he and Mark Woodforde lost the doubles rubber to Alex Corretja and Juan Balcels), the erudite Sandon added it was too early to think of playing for the country next year. �The past weekend is behind me, now I want to focus on this week only. We want to win the world championship badly.�

With the Woodies� presence restricting his Davis Cup career to four rubbers, Sandon isn�t excited now that the legendary pair is history. �I�m not getting any younger either. I have one or two years of tennis left in me,� he said.

One can understand his anguish. Being a true-blue Aussie from a very traditional tennis background, he would surely have loved to wear the country�s colours more often. If only he was born ten years later...


Calcutta, Dec. 13: 
Six centuries were recorded on the opening day of the CAB senior division league tie today.

Kalighat�s Manoj Roy returned highest scorer of the day, making 154 against Mohammedan Sporting.


Aikya Sammilani 357/9 (Sujoy Chowdhury 101, Krishna Pradhan 103, Tapan Behara 49, Rabi Pradhan 42; Atul Dubey 4/81, Suman Chakraborty 3/79) vs Wari.

Anandabazar Patrika Sports Club 199 (Sanjib Das 53; Altaf Hussain 5/52, Santadip Pal 4/49). City AC 24/0.

Barisha Sporting 322 (Shome Kapoor 75, Himadri Dutta 69 n.o., Subhash Dixit 35, Soumen Karmakar 32; Ajoy Das 5/89). Aryan 6/0.

Kumartuli Institute 281/8 (Ayan Nandi 121 n.o., Kamal Hasan Mondal 41) vs Ballygunge United.

BNR 268 (Ashesh De 111, Mithun Dutta 36; Ritam Kundu 3/62) vs Belgachia United.

YMCA (College) 267 (Sudip Mitra 70, Sourav Basu 60, Joyram Oraon 43; Nitin Trivedi 3/74) vs Taltala Institute.

Monoharpukur Milan Samity 296 (Sanjay Das 72, Tapan Mallick 39, Debabrata Banik 34; Pradip Mondal 4/88) vs Eastern Railway.

Kalighat 357/8 (Manoj Roy 154, Charanjit Singh 40; Hemant Tewari 3/56) vs Md. Sp.

Rajasthan 271/9 (Nilashish Ghosh 85, Rajat Chaturvedi 39) vs Paikpara.

n Town 377/8 (Subhajit Pal 111, Arnab Ghosh 73, Ujjal Roy 48, Sanjay Mitra 35; Debasish Das 3/111) vs Excelsiors.


Bangalore, Dec. 13: 
More than the result, it was the way they carried themselves on court today that pleased Leander Paes.

�The way we encouraged each other and played as a team was most important for me,� Paes said after he and Mahesh Bhupathi beat Paul Haarhuis and Sandon Stolle in straight sets. �I am really happy with the way we motivated each other.....even when the chips were down somewhat in the second set, we managed to pull ourselves through.�

That he was playing a competitive match after five weeks and the two of them together after seven weeks, didn�t cross Paes� mind. �I don�t lose much if am out for a few weeks,� Paes said, adding that he was a bit surprised to see O�Brien -Palmer pair losing to Donald Johnson and Piet Norval.

Bhupathi conceded he hadn�t expected such an easy time against Haarhuis and Stolle. �Maybe they didn�t play as well as they can but to our credit we hung in there and took the chances. We needed a win badly today and we got one. The confidence will be high going into the next matches.�


Mumbai, Dec. 13: 
A runaway winner in his previous start, the vastly improved Sunderji-trained ward Yewall, in the hands of C. Rajendra, is expected produce another winning performance in the 1,000m Columbia Plate, the chief attraction in the Mumbai eight-event race-card on Thursday.


1.30 pm: Salsa Dancer 1. The Midnight Sun 2. Seyam 3.
2 pm: Val Rouge 1. Millennium Money 2. High Voltage 3.
2.30 pm: Skippy 1. Intensity 2. Mischievous Times 3.
3 pm: Bon Apetit 1. Cotopaxi 2. Queen Of Romance 3.
3.30 pm: Proper Pride 1. Momentous Mover 2. Sariano 3.
4 pm: Abbeydoran 1. Final Reward 2. Rhythm Divine 3.
4.30 pm: Yewall 1. Star Music 2. Catch Me If You Can 3.
5 pm: Jaannisar 1. Sicalade 2. Fabulous Fortune 3.

Day�s Best: Salsa Dancer

Double: Val Rouge & Yewall

Calcutta, Dec. 13: 
Baffin Bay, So Royal, Princelene and Affliction were impressive in today�s work outs.

Outer sand track

1,400m: Baffin Bay (Khalander) and Ammeter (C. Alford) in 1-40s; (1,000m) 1-11s; (400m) 29s. Former was far better.

1,200m: Falconaire (P. Alford) and Royal Ruler (Rutherford) in 1-29s; (800m) 56s; (400m) 29s. Both were level. Harry The Horse (Connorton) in 1-29s; (800m) 1-2s; (400m) 29. Fit. Artwork (Khalander) 1-29s; (800m) 58s; (400m) 30s. Easy. Desert Force (Kujur) in 1-30s; (800m) 58s; (400m) 30s. Calculus (Khalander) in 1-30s; (800m) 59s; (400m) 31s.

800m: So Royal (Khalander) in 54s; (400m) 27s. Handy. Princelene (Khalander) in 55s; (400m) 27s. Fit. Iron Warrior (Saran S.) in 1-0s; (400m) 29s. Easy. Prizren (M. Reuben) and Flying Scot (Salam) in 57s; (400m) 29s. Former far better. Remember Me (Rb) and Raaz (M. Reuben) in 57s; (400m) 29s. Former was a length better. Cup Of Life (Rb) 54s; (400m) 27s. Impressed. Red Trident (Rutherford) and Country Cousin (P. Alford) in 1-1s; (400m) 29s. Former 2 ls better. Russian Czar (Rb) in 57s; (400m) 30s. easy. Eau Savage (Shanker) in 57s; (400m) 30s. Tsaynen Blue (Connorton) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Handy. Heaven�s Blessing (Shanker) in 57s; (400m) 29s. Alamito (Rabani) and Aiberni (Islam) in 57s; (400m) 30s. Former was a length better. Magnifico (C. Alford) Calamint (A.P. Singh) in 55s; (400m) 29s. Former far better. Flying Power (Kujur) in 56s; (400m) 29s. Fit. Aventura (Islam) and Alvernia (Rabani) in 58s; (400m) 28s. Both were level. Affliction (C. Alford) and Sheerness (A. P. Singh) in 55s; (400m) 27s. Former was far better and moved well. Black Mane (Yacoob) in American (Kujur) in 57s; (400m) 29s. Former was length better. Latter was urged.

Sand track

800m: India Divina (K. Gurang) in 54s; (400m) 26s. Remember The Day (Yadav) in 52s; (400m) 26s. Alterezza (A. P. Singh) and Alvarada (C. Alford) in 50s; (400m) 25s. Former was a length better. Latter hung out nearing the distance-post. Santillana (A. Imran) in 50s; (400m) 24s. Handy. Armila (Locke) in 52s; (400m) 24s. Good.    

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