Different Stroke/ Nothing will change with the BCCI
Korea use Thais to push India out
Green signal to recruit professionals
475 vie for top honours
Anand shows his true class
Tripura on verge of defeat
Natl League not to stop for Millennium Cup
Calcutta Races/ Stately Don wins in close finish
Mumbai Races/ Simply Noble has edge over Allaire
Bangalore Races/ Bangalore results

Mumbai, Dec. 23: 
This respite from international cricket will hopefully give domestic cricket a chance to return to the forefront. For far too long has domestic cricket been neglected, with the great number of international matches hogging the limelight. The bigger blow has, of course, been the absence of India regulars on the domestic scene � something that deprives domestic performers from a correct assessment.

Now that there is a gap till the Australians come over, it will be interesting to see how many India stars do take part in domestic meets. Nobody will, of course, pull out saying he needs rest, but may do so on the pretext of being injured.

While a break for some rest is not a bad thing so long as it is just that, it must be ensured that this time is not used by them to do commercials. This is where the Board will have to be very strict and ensure that if a star is not playing because of �injury� then he should not do anything commercially during that period and, instead, do everything to ensure a quick recovery.

If a player is going to miss a Ranji game saying he is unwell or injured and is during that period shooting for a soft drink, scooter, bank or whatever, then he needs to be disciplined and made to understand that all the commercials he is getting to do is because he started with domestic cricket. And that if he was going to turn his back on it now, then Indian cricket too will turn its back on him.

Of course, all this is more fantasy than reality, because we know that when it comes to taking action, all the politics of the Board come into play.

It is a real pity that domestic cricket does not get its due. It is sad to hear of venues where there are no proper toilets in the players� dressing rooms, where umpires do not have a proper changing room and where water is carried in a plastic bucket and offered to the players in dirty plastic cups at the drinks interval.

Apart from a few major centres no other centre wants to hold domestic cricket, for there is no profit in this but only hard work. And don�t forget the officials are all honorary, so they are not expected to work hard but only be there for the perks of international matches. That, after all, is their reward for serving Indian cricket, though the apt motto would be: �Those who serve themselves first serve the game as well�.

We are prepared to spend money on consultancies, so today we have more than one cricket consultant from overseas. They may well make a contribution but what is really important are the pitches and playing conditions and these are not being looked into. The pitches committee could do with some help from an expert from overseas, who could come down, have a look at our soil and offer advice on how to make our pitches hard and bouncy.

But, then, this aspect is shorn of glamour; groundsmen do not use management jargon that impresses. Thus, the most important part of our cricket, the grounds and pitches, get neglected. You can bring 100 coaches and consultants and nothing will improve unless the ground conditions are attended to first.

Right from the junior to the first-class level we have to give good surfaces to play on, and a good outfield, for the basics to be properly learnt and developed.

Every single Association gets a share of the revenue from the Board, yet how many of them use it to promote the game and develop infra-structure? Invariably the funds lie in a bank or in some official�s company as deposit, and the game and the players get nothing. And because these Associations have votes, the BCCI is reluctant to take action against them.

It would be truly interesting to see what all these consultants of the Board are going to do about the problems I mentioned. All that is likely to happen is that a good chunk of money will go to these consultants who will use a list of jargons to show that they have done their bit and laugh all the way to the bank.

You and I, the ordinary cricket lovers, will tear our hair in frustration. Nothing will change.

Bringing in outsiders for an impartial, different perspective, is not a bad thing. All major companies do that when they are looking to expand and restructure, but the Board has shown reluctance to change, falling back on the excuse of the constitution.

That is the reason why yours truly has been saying for so long that it is the Articles of Association of the sporting bodies � at the national as well as state and district levels � that need to be looked into and amended where necessary if Indian sport is to move forward.

The problem is, who has the will to do it? Nobody. Even in the government. If you have noticed, the Board has conveniently ignored the CBI�s observations against it while accepting those against the players.

The Board has thus shown that it does not give a damn about anybody. So who are you and me to complain?

Have a happy X-mas and a better New Year than the last one.


New Delhi, Dec. 23: 
South Korea�s machiavellian tactics deprived India of a place in the men�s final of the 4th Bharat Sanchar Asia Cup tennis tournament. The Koreans, assured of a place in final, played below par and allowed Thailand to canter to an upset 2-1 win. The result allowed Korea and Thailand emerge as the top two teams in the round-robin and they will be back tomorrow to fight for the title.

On centre court, China won the inaugural women�s Asia Cup, trouncing Thailand 2-0 in the final. Thailand, without two of their top players Tamarine Tanasugarn and Benjamar Sangaram, were no match for the more athletic Chinese.

The 20-year-old Li Ting beat Tongsalee Napaporn 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 44 minutes, before China�s ace Li Na (ranking 137) outclassed Suchanan Viratprasert 6-2, 6-0 in just 54 minutes. The doubles was not played.

But all eyes were on the side court, because the result meant so much to India. It left coach Ramesh Krishnan and his players fuming. �We were robbed of a place in the final in our own country,� said Mahesh Bhupathi. The organisers, Delhi Lawn Tennis Association (DLTA), lodged a protest with the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF).

Most felt Korea went against the spirit of the game by doing what suited them best. Veteran Davis Cup player and coach, Calcutta-based Akhtar Ali, said that the organisers should have foreseen such an eventuality and ensured that the last two round-robin league matches were played simultaneously.

Korea fielded their third player, the 586th-ranked Lee Seung-Hun, to play the opening singles. Thailand�s No.2 Attapol Rittiwattanapong outclassed him 6-3, 6-3 in just 50 minutes. Ironically, Attapol is ranked at 1,126 but dominated play due to Lee�s casual approach.

The highest ranked player of the tournament, Korean Hyung-Taik Lee (87), then beat Danai Udomchoke 6-3, 6-1 to draw level. .

With the teams locked 1-1, word spread of the Korean �rehearsed game-plan�, conceding defeat in the crucial doubles. The left-handed Supparat Chukawan and Danai Udomchoke easily overcame the casual Lee Seung-Hun and Yong-Il Yoon 6-1, 6-4.

The conspiracy theory was further fuelled by comments by Korean captain Won-Hong Joo. �The players had decided it would be easier to play Thailand in the final than India,� Joo blurted out, adding: �Also, winning here would mean the prize money will go to the players unlike in competitions such as Davis Cup where the prize amount goes to the Association.�

ATF officials � tournament referee Nao Kawatei and chief executive Singapore-based S Uttarapati �refused to budge. They heard the protest but rejected it.


Calcutta, Dec. 23: 
The Board�s Core Group, which met in Mumbai today, gave the green signal to recruit professionals who will work alongside the honorary officials.

According to The Telegraph�s sources, the recruitment process should be completed �within three months� and the Board has already formed a recruitment committee.

Meanwhile, the Kamal Morarka-issue has been resolved.

Apparently, Morarka took the initiative to settle the �dispute� he himself started and Board president A.C. Muthiah who, in any case was well-placed, went along.

The Inderjit Singh Bindra affair was also discussed and, one learns, he will have to appear before the Board�s disciplinary committee. That should be in the middle of January.

NCA coaches: According to information received late tonight, the NCA director, Hanumant Singh, is set to step down on health grounds.

There�s talk, too, that coaches Vasu Paranjpe and Roger Binny may make themselves unavailable � for one reason or the other.

Of course, this could not be confirmed.


Calcutta, Dec. 23: 
About 475 gymnasts will vie for top honours in the state gymnastic championships starting at Bhadreswar in Hooghly district from Friday.

The five-day meet will be divided into three groups � artistic, rhythmic and aerobic events. And each participant has to fight for team, all-around and apparatus championships.

The meet will take place at Saradapalli Kanya Vidyapith ground under the aegis of local organisers, Bright Athletic Club as part of its silver jubilee celebration.

Announcing this at a press conference in the city today, West Bengal Gymnastic Association officials lamented that despite showing performance at national and state levels, neither sponsors nor employers are coming up to help players, particularly women gymnasts, financially.


Teheran , Dec. 23: 
Once again Viswanathan Anand has shown his class by strategically outplaying Alexei Shirov in 41 moves in the third game of World Chess Championship in Tehran. From Shirov�s point of view, playing this game was quite difficult for him, because he had to make use of his white pieces to go all-out and win to level the match from a one-down position.

However, to everybody�s surprise, it was Anand who, instead of going for a quiet line, chose to play the Sicilian Defence, the most double-edged of all the openings. Anyway, Anand�s choice of opening proved to be absolutely correct and rewarding.

In this game Anand deviated from the line that he usually plays as early as in the ninth move. This seems to be a part of his home preparation, exclusively for this match. In order to encounter Anand�s plan, Shirov consumed a lot of time in the middlegame, which proved to be very costly afterwards as he came under time pressure.

Shirov tried to complicate the game with a doubtful exchange sacrifice (giving up rook for knight) on move No. 19, which, however, could not fetch him anything as Anand defended easily.

There could have been some drawing chances for Shirov with precise play on his part. But due to shortage of time, Shirov messed up everything and lost meekly in 41 moves.

I cannot help saying that in this Match Shirov is playing much inferior than his actual strength. Maybe, he is tired after playing so many rounds in the Chess Olympiad which concluded only a fortninght before the commencement of the World Championship. Anyway, Saturday is a rest day, and I hope he would have enough time to recover from this demoralising result in the first half of the six-game final.

According to me, the wisest strategy at this moment for Shirov would be to hold Anand to a draw in the next game and win with the white pieces in the fifth game. Then, in the final game, he can employ all his resources and energy for a win and thus level the match.

On the other hand, Anand should not lose his head. Solid, positional play on his part is enough for him, as he needs only one point from the remaining three games to clinch the coveted title of World Champion.


Alexei Shirov (2746) vs Viwanathan Anand (2762)

1.e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Qc7 5. Nc3 e6 6. Be2 a6 7. 0-0 Nf6 8.Be3 Bb4 9. Na4 Bd6! (Anand has played this opening thrice before, all with 9�Be7 including twice against Shirov. He drew with Shirov at Wijk aan Zee 1999 and beat him during the Frankfurt Giants 2000 at 25 minutes game. In the same event he also drew with Kasparov). 10. g3 b5 (This move was first played in 1968 by Grandmaster Taimanov after which this system is known as the Taimanov Variation) 11. Nb6 Rb8 12. Nxc8 Rxc8 13. a4 Nxd4 14. Bxd4 e5 15. Be3 Bc5 16. axb5 (A new move played after 45 minutes� thought. Usual is 16. Bc5 or 16. Qd3). 16� Bxe3 17. fxe3 axb5 18. Bxb5 0-0 19. Rxf6!? (A dubious exchange sacrifice which may not be enough to win) 19.. gxf6 20. Bxd7?! (This move doesn�t work out very well. Possibly Shirov overlooked Anand�s next move) 20.. Ra8!! (After this excellent move white is in a soup. Now it is even difficult for white to defend the position) 21. Qg4+ Kh8 22. Rf1 Rg8 23. Qh3 Qc5 24. Bf5 Qxe3+ 25. Kg2 h6 26. Qh5 Kg7 27. Qg4+ Qg5!! (Another strong move played by Vishy. Idea is to exchange the Queens, the only dangerous piece for white, after which the resulting ending would be easier for black) 28. Qf3 Rgd8 29. h4 Qd2+ 30. Kh3 (30. Rf2 Qd1 forcing Queen exchange) 30.. Rd6 31. Rf2 Qd1 32. Kg4 Ra2 33. Qxd1 Rxd1 34. c4 Rb1 35.Rd2 Raxb2 36. Rd7 Rb7 37. Rd6 (This is the final mistake, but even otherwise it is difficult to save the game. White could give more resistance by playing 37. c5 Rd7 38.Bd7 Rc1 39. c6 Rc3 40.Kh5 Rc4 41.g4 � this position is also losing for white, but black has to find the correct continuation.Or even 40.Kf5 Rg3 41. c7 h5 42 c8(Q) Rf3 mate) 37�Rc7 38. Kh5 Rc1 39. g4 R7xc4 40. Rd7 Rc7 41. Rd8 Rh1 White resigns.

The winning plan for black is 41...Rh1 42. Rd7 Rxd7 43. Bxd7 Rb1 44. Bc6 (44. g5 hxg5 45. hxg5 Rh1+ 46. Kg4 Rg1+-+) 44...Rb8 45. Bd5 (45. g5 hxg5 46. hxg5 Rh8+ 47. Kg4 Rh1-+) 45...Rh8 46. Bc4 Rh7 47. Bd5 Kf8 48. Bc4 Ke7 49. Bd5 Kd6 etc.


Calcutta, Dec. 23: 
Tripura were in danger of facing an ignominious defeat against Bengal, when they lost five wickets for 38 runs � still 22 runs short of forcing the hosts to bat again, at close on the penultimate day of the under-16 Vijay Merchant Trophy tie, being played at Eden Gardens.

Earlier, Bengal declared their first innings at 206 runs for four. Tripura were bundled out for 146 in their first innings.


Tripura 146 & 38/5 (Sourav Sarkar 2/14, Avishek Chakraborty 2/12, Soujan Biswas 1/15). Bengal 206/4 decl. (Ajay Garai 56, Mayukh Biswas 52, Sohan Ghosh 54; Subhas Chakraborty 2/49).

Jiji Irani Challenge Cup

Calcutta beat Nagpur by 78 runs, thanks to Manoj Sivaya�s century and Rayzad Bulsara�s fine bowling performance, while Surat thrashed Jamshedpur by 168 runs in the Jiji Irani Challenge Cup cricket meet, played at Calcutta Parsee Club ground today.


Calcutta 253/5 (Manoj Sivaya 105, Sanjoy Dutta 58; K. Pocha 4/55). Nagpur 175/9 (J. Bapuna 55; Rayzad Bulsara 3/29).

Surat 275/1 (H. Dumasia 120 n.o., Z. Sethana 101 n.o.). Jamshedpur 107/8 (F. Daruwala 3/38).

South Point teams win

South Point won both their Category A and Category B matches today at the inter-school cricket tournament organised by the St Lawrence Old Boys� Association


Category A: South Point 194 for 2 (20 overs) (Sourav Das Gupta 76, Arijit Roy 61 n.o.). St Lawrence 79 for 6 (20 overs). South Point won by 115 runs.

Category B: South Point 254 (23.5 overs) (Subhankar Ghosh 117; Arjun Banerjee 4/43). Julien Day 108 (19 overs). South Point won by 146 runs.


Calcutta, Dec. 23: 
The National Football League will not break for the Millennium Cup. This was announced today by All India Football Federation president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, who also laid out elaborate plans for a �football policy�.

The earlier plan was to have the League, on �hold� during this festive season, resume only after the January 10-25 international event was over.

Das Munshi said that he will meet National League Committee chairman Albert Colaco on December 31, soon after the announcement of India�s squad for the Millennium Cup, to decide on the restart.

�It is likely that a number of clubs playing in the NFL, like SBT, ITI and Vasco, will not be affected when the national squad is selected. So their matches can easily go on during the Millennium Cup,� Das Munshi told reporters.

He, however, shot down some clubs� demand for fielding four foreign players, instead of three, in the Rovers Cup to compensate the release of their players for national duty.

About the proposed football policy, the AIFF president said that its draft will be discussed and debated on in a January 11 meeting, where clubs and media representatives will also be invited. The draft proposes setting up separate projects for promoting and developing age-based teams. �A former international with sound technical background will be in charge of each such project,� the AIFF president said.

Das Munshi is slated for a meeting with top officials of the Indian Football Association on Monday �to make the Millennium Cup a successful affair�. He said: �The international event is being held with two objectives in mind: as India�s preparations for the World Cup qualifiers and to raise enough money to set up a National Football Academy.� He urged the IFA to make efforts in setting up the academy and pledged to help it financially

He further laid out his plan to build a Football House of India in New Delhi. �Soccer needs identity from the professional point of view and a Football House of India is the first step towards this. Construction works for such a building will be taken soon in the capital,� Das Munshi said.

Earlier, Town Club, one of the oldest clubs in the city where Swami Vivekananda had played football, as secretary Asoke Ghosh reminded, felicitated Das Munshi for being re-elected AIFF president for another term.

Das Munshi was presented with bouquets and mementoes by various sport organisations and a host of former football players.

Present at the function were PWD minister Kshiti Goswami and former internationals Sailen Manna, Shyam Thapa, Prasun Banerjee, Gautam Sarkar and Syed Nayeemuddin. Manna urged Das Munshi to work for improving the standard of football in the country �I�m quite old now and do not wish to die without seeing India coming back to its old glory,� Manna said.


Calcutta, Dec. 23: 
The heavily backed Daniel David-trained six-year-old gelding, Stately Don, hard put to land the 1,200m Army Cup. Assuming lead from the tiring leader Mystic Hill, in the last-furlong, the Don was able to retain the advantage by shade under a length as Joe The Pro and Highland Flame closed-in the gap. Jockey A. Imran Khan partnered the Bold Russina-Palace Music son to victory.


1. Thunderbolt Handicap 1,200m: (4-5-1-2) Friendly Knight (Som S.) 1; Altruism (Yacoob) 2; Finders Keepers (Islam) 3; Arco Europa (Surender) 4. Won by: 1/2; 1/2; 1/2; (1-17.1). Tote: Win Rs 21; Place: 16; 19; Quinella: 22; Tanala: 74. Fav: Friendly Knight (4). Winner trained by Jaiswal.
2. Hongkong Jockey Club Trophy 1,100m: (5-1-4-3) Calorescence (C. Alford) 1; Alamito (Amil) 2; Ascoril (Shanker) 3; Sebastian (Rabani) 4. Won by: 1-3/4; 4-3/4; 4-1/2; (1-7.2). Tote: Win Rs 16; Place: 12; 20; Quinella: 30; Tanala: 61. Fav: Calorescence (5). Winner trained by Vijay S.
3. Nikita Handicap 1,100m: (5-2-7-1) Private Lives (Rabani) 1; Alastar (C. Alford) 2; Fibonacci (Salim K.) 3; Armila (Locke) 4. Won by: 3-3/4; 1-3/4; 1/2; (1-8.5). Tote: Win Rs 44; Place: 14; 18; 28; Quinella: 84; Tanala: 1,166. Fav: Armila (1). Winner trained by Bath.
4. Commanche Cup 1,600m: (2-5-4-1) Annatto (C. Alford) 1; Solo Act (Rabani) 2; Double Bull (A. Imran) 3; Colonial (Khalander) 4. Won by: 1-3/4; 1/2; SH; (1-41.1). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 11; 59; 16; Quinella: 283; Tanala: 1,243. Fav: Annatto (2). Winner trained by Vijay S.
5. Army Cup 1,200m: (3-1-4-2) Stately Don (A. Imran) 1; Joe The Pro (Connorton) 2; Highland Flame (C. Alford) 3; Mystic Hill (Amil) 4. Won by: 3/4; Nk; SH; (1-13.5). Tote: Win Rs 23; Place: 13; 15; Quinella: 25; Tanala: 52. Fav: Stately Don (3). Winner trained by Daniel D.
6. Gen. A. S. Vaidya Memorial Cup 1,400m: (14-12-15-6) Charlene (Rabani) 1; Alborada (A. Imran) 2; Bul Bul (Yasin) 3; High Life (Shanker) 4. Won by: Nk; 1-1/4; 3/4; (1-27.3).Tote: Win Rs 140; Place: 29; 25; 35; Quinella: 536; Tanala: 9,260. Fav: Ammeter (11). Winner trained by Bath.
7. Harvest Star Handicap 1,200m: (1-16-14-3) Santillana (A. Imran) 1; Hoyo Hoyo (Yasin) 2; Atomist (Islam) 3; Splendid Star (Upadhya) 4. Not run: All Jade (8). Won by: 2-1/4; SH; 1/2; (1-14). Tote: Win Rs 20; Place: 15; 24; 69; Quinella: 63; Tanala: 1,308. Fav: Santillana (1). Winner trained by Daniel D.
Jackpot: Rs 3,790; (C) Rs 555.
Treble: (i) Rs 77; (ii) Rs 604.

Mumbai, Dec. 23: 
There is little to choose between the Dallas Todywalla-trained colt Simply Noble and the Darius Byramji-filly Allaire in the McDowell Indian 2,000 Guineas in Mumbai on Sunday. However, the home-turf advantage favours the colt and he may score in the hands of Richard Hughes.


12.15 pm: Budapest 1. Authentic 2. Fantasy Royal 3.
12.45 pm: Knighted 1. Yukon 2. Fine Arrow 3.
1.15 pm: Act Of Trust 1. Mischiefmaker 2. Speakeasy 3.
1.45 pm: Affability 1. Radical Force 2. Sakshi 3.
2.15 pm: Soviet Run 1. Foreign Connection 2. San Vitale 3.
3 pm: Machrihanish 1. Source Of Light 2. Cristina 3.
3.30: Bound By Honour 1. Infuriate 2. Consortium 3.
4.15 pm: Simply Noble 1. Allaire 2. Moment Of Truth 3.
4.45 pm: Zillion Figlia 1. Victory Tune 2. Special Happening 3.
5.15 pm: Northern Supreme 1. Balancita 2. Desert Fighter 3.
Day�s best: Soviet Run
Double: Knighted & Bound By Honour

Bangalore, Dec. 23: 
Trained by Ganapathy and ridden by R. Hughes, Scenic Star easily claimed the Jog Cup here on Saturday.


1. December Plate 1,100m: (1-9-6) Majestic Emperor (Hughes) 1; Discuss 2; Fizaa 3. Not run: Crystal Ocean (4). Won by: 7; Nk; (1-10). Tote: Win Rs 21 Place: 11; 15; 126; Forecast 45; Quinella: 30; Tanala: 901 & 705. Fav: Majestic Emperor (1).
2. Nethravathi Cup 1,200m: (7-13-12) Classic Invitee (Prakash) 1; Zulia�s 2; Beverly Babe 3. Not run: Bjork (10) & Make No Mistake (14). Won by: 7; Nk; (1-17.5). Tote: Win Rs 21; Place: 13; 61; 35; Forecast: 145; Quinella: 189; Tanala: 1,181 & 307. Fav: Classic Invitee (7).
3. Gomos Plate 1,600m: (6-10-11) Top Socialite (Prakash) 1; Ma Baker 2; Paranjyothy 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 1/2; (1-41.7). Tote: Win Rs 63; Place: 22; 123; 20; Forecast: 1,642 Quinella: 1,630; Tanala: 7,078 & 2,600. Fav: Odeon (4).
4. T. Dougall Memorial Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (4-7-1) Tudor King (Hughes) 1; So Thrilled 2; Comedy Of Errors 3.Won by: 1-3/4; 3/4; (1-15.3). Tote: Win Rs 50; Place: 20; 21; 47; Forecast: 341; Quinella: 208; Tanala: 1,976 & 738. Fav: Winelight (2).
5. Jog Cup 1,400m: (2-4-3) Scenic Star (Hughes) 1; Royal Satin 2; Alameda 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 2-1/2; (1-28.9). Tote: Win Rs 36; Place: 16; 13; Forecast: 52; Quinella: 19; Tanala: 121 & 54. Fav: Royal Satin (4).
6. T. Dougall Memorial Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (1-7-3) Tareek (Harish) 1; Screen Play 2; Star Liner 3. Won by: 1-1/4; SH; (1-16.2). Tote: Win Rs 401; Place: 70; 22; 15; Forecast: 4,412; Quinella: 1,215; Tanala: 5,189 & 2,426. Fav: Star Liner (3).
7. Capt. H. D. Fownes Memorial Plate 1,800m: (5-4-7) Burning Bright (Srinath) 1; Mr. Belvedere 2; Fereneze 3. Not run: Pleasantville (11). Won by: 3-3/4; SH; (1-53.9). Tote: Win Rs 141; Place: 47; 20; 42; Forecast: 536; Quinella: 267; Tanala: 2,152 & 1,537. Fav: Sinister Minister (3).
8. Sovereign Crown Plate 1,400m: (3-6-1) Raizer (Sharp) 1; Sher Khan 2; Telegram 3. Won by: 3/4; 1-1/2; (1-29.7). Tote: Win Rs 45; Place: 18; 44; 23; Forecast: 436; Quinella: 246; Tan-ala: 3,064 & 1,313. Fav: Scenic (4).
Jackpot: Rs 4,27,547 (Carried over); (C) Rs 36,647.
Mini jackpot: Rs 7,066.
Treble: (i) Rs 382; (ii) Rs 22,551.

Maintained by Web Development Company