Saini in contention for skipper post
Ritwick in quarter-finals
Rafiq Ali in lead
Bengal take 100-run lead
Psychological victory for Anand
India men, women lose
Calcutta races/ Highland Flame impresses

New Delhi, Dec. 20: 
The Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) today sacked national coach Vasudev Baskaran for failing to produce a good performance in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He was replaced by IHF president K.P.S. Gill�s favourite, Cedric D�Souza. The move comes a couple of months after Gill�s statement, following the Sydney disaster, that heads would not roll. D�Souza was in charge during the Sydney World Cup in 1994 and the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

The IHF sprung a surprise by appointing Bangkok Asian Games gold medallist, goalkeeper Ashish Ballal as the assistant coach. He will coach the five goalkeepers for the World Cup qualifying tournament in Scotland in July 2001.

Besides Ballal, D�Souza will be assisted by C.R. Kumar while the Barcelona based Ranjit Singh has been designated as the expert. A psychologist, Dr J. P. S. Sidhu, has also been appointed for the players.

Olympian skipper Ramandeep Singh, Mukesh Kumar and Mohammed Riaz were also dropped from the 43 shortlisted for the 2002 World Cup.

Calcutta-born Baljit Singh Saini is in contention to lead India. He, though, is expected to face tough competition from Sukhbir Singh Gill.

Justifying the trio�s exclusion, Gill said: �They are over the hill, we don�t think they can do much for Indian hockey now, that is why we dropped them to pave way for the promising youngsters.�

Interestingly, Mukesh played a pivotal role in Indian Airlines win in the 60th senior national championship in Jammu last week, but IHF secretary Jyothikumaran claimed that the verstile winger was not considered for the camp as he had announced his �retirment� from the international circuit.

Ramandeep did not play in the nationals as he got married just before the start of the meet.


Goalkeepers: Devesh Chauhan (IOC), Jude Menezes (Mumbai), Jagdish Ponappa (IA), K N Subbiah (J&K), Robindro Singh (CRPF). Fullbacks: Dilip Tirkey, Lazarys Barla (both IA), Dinesh Naik (TN), Aftab Ahmed, Anurag Raghuvanshi (both UP), Iqbal Singh (J&K), Len Aiyappa (IA)c.Halfbacks: S. S. Gill (Chandigarh), Paramjit Singh (Services), Prabhat Saini (CRPF), Harmeek Singh (Punjab), Jaswinder Singh (IOC), Nirmal Bengra (Bengal), Taqdir Singh (J&K), Mohd Kalim (UP), Satish Kumar (Railways), Arjun Halappa (Karnataka), Radhakrishnan (TN), Bimal Lakra (IA), Thirumal Valavan (IA), Baljit Singh Saini (P&SB). Forwards: Samir Dad (IA), Deepak Thakur, Prabhjot Singh (both IOC), Gagan Ajit Singh (Mumbai), Baljit Chandi (P&SB), Brojen Singh (IA), Daljit Singh Dhillon (Punjab), Dung Dung (Hyderabad), Bipin Fernandes (Mumbai), Harbhajan Singh (BSF), Gurjeet Singh (J&K), Anoop Anthony (Karnatka), Senthil (TN), Ravinder Singh (IA), Chander Pal (Railways), Dhanraj Pillay (Mumbai), Baljit Singh Dhillon (Punjab).


Calcutta, Dec. 20: 
National champion and top seed Ritwick Bhattacharya today stormed into the men�s quarter finals of the Power East India squash meet with a 9-3, 9-0, 9-1 victory over A. Chaudhari.

Also moving into the quarters were N. Narain, S. Bisht, A. Kalia, Bikram Oberoi and Deepak Agarwal. They beat Dhruv Dhawan (9-2, 9-1, 9-2), G. Bhandari (9-3, 9-2, 9-5), P. Tibriwalla (9-2, 9-3, 9-1), Sakthi Singh (9-0, 9-0, 9-1) and M Sheketkar (9-3, 10-8, 6-9, 9-6), respectively.

OTHER RESULTS � U-19 Boys:Shakti Singh bt R. Bhandari 9-0, 9-0, 9-0; A. Rampuria bt R. Baid 9-3, 9-4, 9-3; D Bengani bt K. Mansatta 9-7, 9-4, 9-7; Dhruv Dhawan bt A. Jhunjhunwala 9-0, 9-0, 9-0. U-17 Boys: Dhruv Dhawan bt A. Khetawat 9-0, 9-0, 9-0; Rahul Bajoria bt A.L. Shrestha 9-2, 9-3, 0-9, 9-5; K. Mansatta bt Abhisekh Ghosh 9-0, 9-0, 9-0; A. Rampuria bt Rahil Deogun 9-0, 9-0, 9-0.


Calcutta, Dec. 20: 
Rafiq Ali of Calcutta moved into the lead after the second round of the Rs 7.5 lakh Tamil Nadu Golf Federation (TNGF) Open 2000 with a solid display of four-under 68 at the Cosmopolitan Golf Club course today, according to information reaching here.

Rafiq was at six-under 138 following his opening round of two-under 70. He was followed by Shiv Prakash, the current Order of Merit leader, who also shot a four-under 68 and was at five-under 139. Overnight leader Rohtas Singh slipped two places following a one-over 73 round, while Harmeet Kahlon shot his second successive 71 to occupy the fourth place.

Sanjay Kumar, Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia, Vishal Singh and Rajesh Kumar Rawat were a further stroke behind and tied for fifth place at one-under 143.

The cut was applied at 10-over 154 with 51 pros and six amateurs advancing.


Calcutta, Dec. 20: 
Orissa were tottering at 28 for two in their second innings at the end of the second day in their BCCI under-22 zonal meet match versus Bengal in Berhampore today.

Earlier, the Bengal first innings closed at 240, 100 runs ahead of the Orissa innings, with Arindam Das scoring 85 and Ranabir Nath hitting 40. According to information received here, that was despite S. Saigal picking up six wickets for 62.

Dharmendra Singh picked up both Orissa wickets to go in the visitors� second knock, at the cost of 16 runs.

[In Agartala, Tripura were heading for an innings defeat in their under-22 tie against Assam, who declared their first innings today at 363 for six, adds UNI.

[Resuming at 222 for three, Assam added 141 to their first innings total before declaring. Tripura made 101 in their first innings and were 170 for seven in their second at close.

Brief scores: Tripura 101 and 170/7 (Sandip Banerjee 51, Chandra Banerjee 37). Assam 363 for six dec. (Bachan Singh 80 n.o., Prantar Sharma 59). Match to continue.]

State volleyball squads

Surajit Ghosh and Sushmita Parui will lead the state the boys� and girls� teams, respectively, to take part in the junior nationals to be held in Gurgaon from Monday to December 31.


BOYS: Surajit Ghosh, Ashis Saha, Krishnendu Ghosh, Diganta Kundu, K. Nazimuddin, Sujoy Pal, Sanjit Roy, Abhijit Dalui, Susovan Bose, Abhijit Chakraborty, Sanjib Mukherjee. Coach: Amarnath Chongdar.

GIRLS: Sushmita Parui, Sima Oraon, Mithu Paul, Soma Saha, Anita Garai, Jayanti Malik, Tapasi Sen, Sampa Paul, Geeta Debnath, Meenakshi Ghosh, Iva Shome, Pampa Chatterjee. Coach: Amar Dutta.


At last, the battle for the World Chess crown has started between Indian superstar Viswanathan Anand and Alexei Shirov of Spain in Teheran. As expected, in the very first game of the six-game match, both players displayed an attacking attitude, although the game ended in a draw after 34 moves of bitter fighting. The game shows that Anand has carefully chosen his opening with the black pieces. I had expected him to play the Petroff�s Defence against Shirov�s King-Pawn opening as this has become a fashion these days in top class chess when black wants to force a draw. But, Anand�s choice of French Defence shows that he is ready to fight even with black pieces.

Initially, Shirov was taking time to make his moves, a clear sign that this opening took him by surprise. In fact, Anand had stopped playing the French Defence long back. He has revived it only recently. Shirov tried to take advantage of playing the white pieces and in an attempt to gain an early initiative, sacrificed a pawn as early as in the eighth move. Anand accepted the pawn offer at the cost of poor positioning and delay in development.

In the 11th move, Anand could have grabbed another pawn, but this could lead to tremendous pressure on his unsafe king. So Anand wisely went for a safe and solid line with an extra pawn. Shirov�s aggressive 12th move, which is a deviation from the normal continuation, showed that today he was desperate for a win.

At this moment, for the first time, Anand thought for quite some time and played precisely to defend the position. At one stage, after the queens were exchanged, it appeared that white had a superior position, in spite of material deficit, thanks to his active piece position. Again, Anand showed his class by returning the extra pawn at the correct moment and started counter-play on the king�s wing. Although Shirov posted his rook on the seventh file, Anand created disbalance in the position by penetrating into Shirov�s camp with his rook. The players then decided to cool down and agreed for draw with a repetition of moves.

I think that this draw is undoubtedly a psychological victory for Anand, having neutralised Shirov�s advantage with the white pieces. We can now hope to see Vishy in his true form tomorrow when he faces his opponent with the white pieces.

Shirov (2746) vs Anand (2762): 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Qb6 6. a3 a5 (Here, the other option for black is c4 which leads to a very solid and positional battle) 7. Bd3 Bd7 8. 0-0 (White is ready to sacrifice d4 pawn to gain some space in the centre. He could save it by playing 8. Bc2) 8. cxd4 9. cxd4 Nxd4 10. Nxd4 Qxd4 11. Nc3 Qb6 (Here, black could win a second pawn at the cost of tremendous attack on his unsafe king, eg: 11. e5 12. Re1 Qd8 13. Nd5 with a double-edged position) 12. Qg4 (An excellent move. As per the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings, this move is quite dubious. It suggests 12. Qe2 but in my opinion, the text is much more aggressive and forthright for playing for a win) 12. g6 (This is the best move in this situation. Other moves like 12. f5 or 12. h5 gives white a huge advantage) 13. Be3 Bc5 14. Na4 Bxa4 15. Qxa4+Kf8 (A typical Anand move) 16. Bxc5+Qxc5 17. Rac1 Qb6 18. Qd7 Rd8 19. Qc7 Qxc7 20. Rxc7 (Frankly speaking, at this point it seems that white is having more than sufficient compensation for the sacrificed pawn. His pieces are more active than black�s) 20. Rb8 21. Rfc1 Ne7 22. f4 Nc6 23. Rc5 Kg7 24. Rb5 g5 (The only way to create some counter-play on the king�s wing) 25. g3 h5 26. Rbxb7 Rxb7 27. Rxb7 h4 (It is the correct way to attack the base of the pawn-chain. It is also wise to exchange as many materials as possible in a worse position) 28. Kg2 hxg3 29. hxg3 gxf4 30. gxf4 Rh4 31. Kg3 Rh1 32. Kg2 Rh4 33. Kg3 Rh1 34. Kg2. Draw agreed.


New Delhi, Dec. 20: 
It was a day of disaster for India in the Bharat Sanchar Asia Cup-2000.

The fancied men�s team lost 0-3 to favourites South Korea. In the three-team women�s tournament, being organised for the first time, India were eliminated, losing 0-3 to China. The Indian women had lost 1-2 to Thailand yesterday and are thus out of the reckoning for the final. Thailand and China will play an inconsequential rubber on Friday after a day�s rest tomorrow.

Mahesh Bhupathi�s lack of match practice and shoulder injury was evident today. He looked rusty and his booming serves lacked consistency. Having played limited singles ties this season, his ranking has plummetted to 892.

Both Bhupathi and Syed Fazaluddin were outclassed in their respective singles matches.

Bhupathi did not have an easy opponent playing as the second singles player. He had to counter Yong-Il Yoon, the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games gold medallist, and lost 3-6, 4-6. The Indian also seemed to be suffering from a hangover after the humiliating loss in the ATP doubles final on Sunday, in Bangalore.

In the opening set, fleet-footed Yoon capitalised on Bhupathi�s unforced errors and raced to a 3-0 lead with a break in the second game. The solitary break was enough to win the first set at 6-3. Bhupathi�s groundstrokes were erratic in both sets and he often netted long rallies. His attempted backhand passing shots were off target.

In the second set, the Korean No.2 was dominant and opened up a 4-2 lead with a break in the fifth game, which went into deuce six times. Playing with ankle strappings, Bhupathi was slower in his movements as the match progressed. Games then went with service and Yoon blasted an ace to put Korea 1-0 ahead in 70 minutes.

Harsh Mankad ranked 565 on the ATP list, was to be India�s No. 1 singles player. However, he was unwell and replaced by Syed Fazaluddin. However, against Hyung Taik-Lee, who lost in the fourth round of the US Open to Pete Sampras, the Calcutta based Fazal struggled to find his momentum.

The Korean ace served and volleyed better to win comfortably 6-3, 6-3. The breaks were in the second game of the first set and the seventh game of the second set. In both breaks, Hyung�s spectacular backhand passing shots got him the vital break points.

In the women�s event, both Sai Jayalakshmi and Shruti Dhawan surrenedered early leads to lose tamely in straight games. Talented Chandigarh based Shruti had a chance to prove her mettle but was overawed and inconsistent in her groundstrokes. Sai Jayalskahmi played tenaciously but could not cope with the superior fitness of her rival.

RESULTS � MEN: South Korea bt India 3-0 (Yong-Il Yoon bt Mahesh Bhupathi 6-3, 6-4.; Hyun-Taik Lee bt Syed Fazaluddin 6-3, 6-3; Hyun-Taik Lee and Yong-Il Yoon bt Syed Fazaluddin and Nitin Kirtane 3-6, 6-1, 6-2. WOMEN: China bt India 3-0 (Tian-Tian Sun bt Shruti Dhawan 6-2, 6-4; Li Na bt Sai Jayalakshmi 6-2, 7-5; Li Na and Li Ting bt Rushmi Chakraborty and Manisha Malhotra 7-6(4), 6-1).


Calcutta, Dec. 20: 
Highland Flame, Mystic Hill, Annatto, and Sadaf were impressive from among the following horses exercised this morning:

2,000m: Illustrious Reign (Upadhya) in 2-32s; (1,200m) 1-31s; (400m) 31s. Easy.

1,400m: Flinders (Khalander) in 1-49s; (800m) 1-3s; (400m) 33s. Easy.

1,200m: South Cove (C. Alford) and Think Of Us (Khalander) in 1-28s; (400m) 28s. Former better.

1,000m: Highland Flame (C. Alford) in 1-9s; (400m) 27s. Impressed. Alastar (C. Alford) and Special Sovereign (Surender) in 1-13s; (400m) 28s. Former far better.

800m: Accrete (A. P. Singh) and Cloroscence (C. Alford) in 55s; (400m) 28s. Former was a length better. Artifact (A. P. Singh) and Alflora (Amil) in 55s; (400m) 28s. Former was far superior. Mystic Hill (Amil) and Annatto (C. Alford) in 53s (400m) 27s. Former was a length better. Both went well. Ashbury (Som S.) in 57s; (400m) 30s.

600m: Friendly Knight (Rb) in 41s; (400m) 27s. Moved well.

Sand track

1,400m: Sadaf (Saran S.) and Mr. Bombshell (A. Imran) in 1-36s; (1,000m) 1-4s; (400m) 24s. Former was a length better.

1,200m: Aragrove (Upadhya) and Little Too Much (A. Imran) in 1-27s; (800m) 56s; (400m) 27s. Both level.

800m: Stately Don (A. Imran) in 51s; (400m) 24s. Was handy. Spanish Drums (Upadhya) in 50s; (400m) 24s. Good. Santillana (A. Imran) in 51s; (400m) 24s. Fit. Splendid Star (A. Imran) in 51s; (400m) 24s. Good. Stella Blue (Rb) and Hoyo Hoyo (Rb) in 53s; (400m) 26s. Both were level.

On Tuesday, Outer sand track

1,400m: A 2-yo No Louder/Judy�s Ivy (Connorton) and Aznavour (Yadav) in 1-47s; (800m) 58s; (400m) 30s. Both were easy.

1,200m: So Royal (Khalander) in 1-23s; (800m) 55s; (400m) 29s. Good.

1,000m: Private Lives (Rabani) and Aiberni (Islam) in 1-10s; (400m) 29s. Both were level. Classic Pursuit (C. Alford) and Charlene (Rabani) in 1-11s; (400m) 27s. Former far better. Baffin Bay (C. /Alford) in 1-11s; (400m) 27s. Moved nicely.

800m: Ammeter (Khalander) in 55s; (400m) 27s. Moved well. Sebastian (Rabani) and Alamito (C. Alford) in 57s; (400m) 27s. Both were level. Queen�s Logic (Rabani) Abolisher (C. Alford) in 57s; (400m) 27s. Former far better. Highlife (Islam) and Gentle Priest (Rabani) in 55s; (400m) 28s. Former 2 ls better.

Sand track

1,000m: Scarlet Raider(Rb) in 1-10s; (400m) 27s.


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