Team along right track
Vasco fall to EB might
Anu Bindra in lead
Barisha, Kalighat in semi-finals
Rumli hits a brace
Mumbai Racing/ Crimson Rage holds edge
Race Review/ Daniel-Imran dealt severe blow

Mumbai, Feb. 20: 
The recall of Narendra Hirwani and Nayan Mongia, in particular, leaves no room for doubt over how the Wankhede wicket will behave during the first Test, from next Tuesday.

We should be ready for a sharp turner if not an absolute minefield.

Even though Hirwani�s last India appearance was way back in late 1996, he was expected to make the cut once called for phase-II of the Chennai conditioning camp. So, no surprise there.

The �surprise� revolves around Mongia (last India appearance being in the summer of 2000, Asia Cup). Till the other day Vijay Dahiya, who kept wickets from the start of the season, in Nairobi, was favoured to keep his place. Today, there was a rethink.

�Frankly, not everybody is very convinced about Dahiya�s ability to �keep on turning tracks. Therefore, the consensus was to fall back on somebody with experience. In fact, Mongia was superb during the Australians� last visit to India (early 1998),� was how a selector put it, while speaking to The Telegraph.

More than anything else, the gentleman only confirmed how the wicket would unfold, not just here but possibly in Calcutta and Chennai, too, where the second and third Tests will be staged.

It is understood chief selector Chandu Borde (who, in any case, has a West-orientation) got the Mongia-ball rolling. When it came to captain Sourav Ganguly, he apparently remained �neutral.�

Not many days ago, of course, Sourav had praised Dahiya while choosing not to even speak about Mongia.

Back, too, is Harbhajan Singh, again no surprise, while �rookies� Rahul Sanghvi and Hemang Badani picked themselves. A big score in Nagpur, for India A, and Dinesh Mongia would have run Badani very close.

Both failed to open their account, but Badani�s proven record in ODIs, under pressure at that, put him right in front.


Calcutta, Feb. 20: 

East Bengal, flush from Saturday�s win over Mohun Bagan, today ended Vasco Sports Club�s unbeaten run in the National League. The 3-0 win may suggest comfort but victory for the League leaders came only after some uncertain moments.

Frustrated by a well-drilled defensive game of the Goan outfit and some brilliant work under its bar by Rogerio Ramos, East Bengal were kept waiting for 40 minutes for their first goal.

For the 10,000 spectators at the Salt Lake Stadium, it was well worth the wait as Dipankar Roy capped a terrific move with a goal to match.

Omolaja Olalekan, hero of the Mohun Bagan match, made it 2-0 25 minutes after the breather by showing some fine opportunism, before Suley Musah rounded off the tally as he nodded home an Awoyemi Isiaka corner in the 86th minute. All this in the midst of several scoring opportunities created and squandered by Vasco.

The match opened as per the script, with East Bengal throwing a great deal into attack and Vasco looking comfortable as they soaked up the pressure in a crowded midfield. The ball stayed in Goan territory almost throughout these early exchanges, but it was becoming increasing evident that the red-and-gold ranks were not making much headway.

While the game in the Goan half was drifting dangerously into a pattern, East Bengal saw their striker Dipendu Biswas limping out after aggravating an ankle injury, and their own goal coming in for some close shaves.

A 15th-minute free-kick from just outside the East Bengal box grazed the crosspiece and then, in the 36th minute, Peter Rodrigues came upon a golden opportunity when Vasco�s Uzbek play-maker Avazbek Koshimov found him with a chip from the left. As the ball came curling over Dipak Mondal, all Rodrigues had to do was chest it down and have goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee at his mercy. Instead, he messed it up with some poor receiving.

A couple of minutes later, East Bengal could have gone ahead but for some brilliant goalkeeping by Ramos. When East Bengal�s third corner came floating to the top of the Vasco box, Musah got a head to it. As Omoloja deflected it goalwards, it seemed all lost for Vasco � till Ramos, showing great reflexes, fended it off from the goalline even as he fell backwards into his goal.

But a brilliant move was to bring down his citadel another couple of minutes later.

The move began deep in the East Bengal half, on their very busy right flank. Receiving a ball from Tushar Rakshit, who had a good game, Sheik Sanjib set himself free with a one-two with Musah before finding Bijen Singh near the Vasco box with a diagonal pass. Bijen relayed the ball to Dipankar, who fired a stinging left-footer past Ramos.

The entire move was so fluent, precise and pacy that Vasco�s well-structured defending, which relied on pushing men into the area of action, collapsed momentarily. So much so that when Dipankar got the ball, inside the Vasco box, he was absolute unmarked.

Vasco came close to equalising twice in quick succession just before the breather, Ronaldo da Silva�s header off a Koshimov corner coming back from the post and then, almost on the whistle for half-time, the Uzbek failing to get a touch to an inviting cross from Ronaldo.

Vasco�s Brazilian goalkeeper prevented Sur Kumar from scoring from a Omolaja cross minutes into the second session, before Rodrigues let another opportunity to draw level go abegging.

Omoloja then got his goal when Ramos made the one rare mistake, managing only to block a low drive from Sur Kumar. Rushing in for the rebound, Omoloja scored his fourth goal in six matches for East Bengal.

Musah scored soon after and for good measure denied Vasco a goal from their best chance of the day. Rodrigues, tapping in a prompt from substitute Kishore Palkar, saw a retreating Musah head out from the goalline.


East Bengal: Sangram Mukherjee; Suley Musah, Jackson Egygpong, Dipak Mondal, Ratan Singh; Sheikh Sanjib (Ranjan Dey 70th), Awoyemi Isiaka, Tushar Rakshit (Sur Kumar Singh 62nd), Dipankar Roy; Dipendu Biswas (Bijen Singh 27th), Omolaja Olalekan.

Vasco Sports Club: Rogerio Ramos; Bhola Dey, Seby Dias, Denzil Coutinho, Caetano Pinho; Bibian Fernandes (Kishore Palkar 76th), Ronaldo da Silva, Ravi Babu (Khogen Singh 55th), Greogory Clark (Daniel Colaco 69th); Avazbek Koshimov, Peter Rodrigues.


Calcutta, Feb. 20: 
Anu Bindra shot into the lead with a fine round of 67 in the 20th Taj Ladies Golf Trophy at Tollygunge Club today. Chandra Das with a score of 68 was in second position, followed by Priyanka Dey on 69.

Vandana Agarwal finished the day with the best gross score of 72.

The first day winners are as follows: Best nett winner (silver division) � Anu Bindra; Best nett winner (bronze division) � Chandra Das; Best nett winner in 30-36 � K. Sabherwal; Nearest on the 2nd hole � S. Saran; Hidden holes winner � S. Ray.

Bangladesh Open

A Pro-Am tournament was held on the first day of the inaugural Dutch-Bangla Bank Bangladesh Open 2001 in which 66 amateurs were partnered by 22 professionals.

According to information reaching here, the team comprising Jung Sook, Rohtas Singh, Daniel Islam and Iqbal Chowdhury won the event with a score of 128.


Calcutta, Feb. 20: 
Barisha Sporting entered the semi-finals of the CAB senior knockout tournament when they beat Tollygunge Agragami by 47 runs today.

They will now face Mohun Bagan for a place in the final.

Kalighat Club also made it to the semi-finals with a seven-wicket win over Tapan Memorial.

Kalighat will meet the winners of East Bengal and Wari AC.


Barisha Sporting 227 in 42 ovs (Shome Kapoor 65, Saikat Sett 44). Tollygunge Agragami 180 (Soumen Karmakar 5/34). Barisha won by 47 runs.

Tapan Memorial 168 in 35.5 ovs (Joydeep Mukherjee 36, Ranabir Nath 33; Murtuza Lodhgar 4/35). Kalighat 170/3 in 34 ovs (Timir Chanda 53 n.o., Charanjit Singh 50 n.o., Humza Firozie 35; George Pal 3/40). Kalighat won by 7 wkts.

Shibpur Institute 117 in 36.2 ovs (Kaushik Bhattacharjee 45; Subir Dey 3/13, Shib Sagar Singh 3/18). East Bengal 119/2 in 25.1 ovs (Ajay Verma 54 n.o.). East Bengal won by 8 wkts.

Inter-college meet

The CAB inter-college cricket tournament will begin on March 18. The details of the meet are yet to be finalised.    

Calcutta, Feb. 20: 
A brace from Rumli Chakraborty helped Bally Gramanchal trounce Rampur MS 3-0 in the IFA women�s football league today. Deepa Bera completed the tally.

In another match, Itika Memorial drew with NPC Sports Academy. Anita Das scored for Itika which was neutralised by Shanti Mallick.

BHA League

W.B. Police SC triumphed over Jagrihi 3-0 in a BHA first division group B match. Sanjib Chatterjee, Gurupada Gope and Sanjay Gurung scored for the winners.    

Mumbai, Feb. 20: 
Crimson Rage and Eminent, the two youngsters sporting the Shapoor Mistry colours are expected to decide the outcome of the 1,000m M. D. Mehta Cup at the Mumbai races on Wednesday. The debut run of Crimson Rage, however, suggests that the Don�t Forget Me-Maumann son possesses more speed and holds the edge over his ownermate, a filly. C. Rajendra partners the S. Mody-trainee.


3.30 pm: Soviet Run 1. Foolish Pursuit 2. Chelsea 3.
4 pm: Crimson Rage 1. Eminent 2. Wild Love 3.
4.30 pm: Pink Floyed 1. Ancestry 2. Dance With Me 3.
5 pm: Phrwaxshi 1. Ally McBeal 2. Dreadnought 3.
5.30 pm: Remus 1. Court Lane 2. Mustakeem 3.
6 pm: Golden Sparrow 1. Armando 2. Smash For Cash 3.

Day�s Best: Soviet Run

Double: Crimson Rage & Phrwaxshi

Calcutta, Feb. 20: 
The carried-over jackpot pools on each of the two race fixtures � February 15 and February 17 � spelt doom for favourites in the last leg of the winter season. Accrete and Remember Me were the only two clear favourites to deliver on those two days, which saw a total of 13 race events.

The plight of the favourites worked to the delight of the trainer-jockey combination of Daniel David and Imran Khan. The duo notched up a quadruple of wins at such fancied odds that even a Rs 100 roll-up would be enough to send a top-bracket bookmaker into liquidation. One, however, cannot fathom the stable partners taking a plunge at the gambling for gains as they are known to eye stakes alone.

If Daniel�s Blessed Spirit, Stately Don and Mr Bombshell managed to convert their marginal handicap disadvantage in to narrow wins, it was Pneumatic Power�s victory in the 1,100m Necessity Handicap which landed the trainer in a spot.

The four-year-old colt had performed very poorly in all his last six starts in the upper class. Even though the event was meant for the non-winning category horses, his victory broke the norms of racing. An inquiry, opened by stewards into past performances of the horse, is bound to teach the young trainer a lesson ot two.

The other event which also lived up to the Saturday afternoon trend was the feature, the 2,800m Queen Elizabeth II Cup. A friendless six-year-old Colonial won the race, beating a good set of young rivals, despite his weight disadvantage. The Danzig Connection-St Honore son was outpaced in the first mile-and-a- quarter but Robert Gowli never gave up hope as he brought the Asfand-trainee back into contention in the final run-in. He was seen flying on the far side of the track when it mattered most.

A far-away third as a debutante in The Archer�s race, Accrete was a winner long way from home in the CROS Cup over 1,400m. Aslam Kader, who partnered the winner, was, however, far from his usual best on Alyssum in the Elusive Pimpernel Cup which he lost to Stately Don and Clarice Cliff in a close finish.

A handy third till 600m, Kader could have waited a little longer than shooting into the lead, wide at the turn, thus breaking the smooth gallopping action of the Steinbeck-Ghanayem five-year-old.

Things were slightly better on Thursday. Remember Me apart, two second-favourites, Master Bold and Anntari, had something to offer to those who looked beyond the course favourites. If Master Bold cashed in on his present form, things turned easy for Anntari as Cristopher Alford failed to inspire favourite Wandering Warrior to do anything but finish off the board.

Cristopher�s attempt to take the opposition by surprise in the feature event, the 1,400m Eastern Command Cup, also came to nought as his well-backed Auctioneer led a merry dance from the start only run out of gas passing the distance-post. Ridden in a check, Gold Buck displayed amazing acceleration to retire a comfortable winner with Daniel�s Best In Show and Lovely Prospect just managing to edge out a heavily fancied Earl Grey from the pay slots.


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