Aussies spit fire
Talk more of the team effort, not of my innings: V.V.S. Laxman
A product of the Bedi-Venkat class
Selectors, Sourav in tussle over Mongia inclusion
Yuvraj out, Dinesh in
Mahindra mauled
Tolly, AI in battle for survival
Mumbai Races/ Wild Eagle strikes
Calcutta Races/ 7 races in Wednesday�s card
Jockeys lent their bit to make the difference

Chennai, March 18: 
Australia 326/3

One innings from Adam Gilchrist took the match away from India in Mumbai. During the second Test, Vangipurappu Laxman proved equal to the task. At the Chepauk, Matthew Hayden seems determined not to let the opportunity go by.

The Australians are so firm in their resolve to win a Test series in India and end their 31-year drought that they seemed all charged up in their endeavour on the opening day of the deciding Test. None exemplified the zeal better than Hayden with a career-best unbeaten 147, thereby ensuring the hosts could not extend their advantage gained by winning in Calcutta.

The packed Sunday turnout had anticipated some Indian fireworks once Steve Waugh opted to take first strike. The dismissal of Michael Slater in the very first over had raised their hopes. Instead, they were treated to some breathtaking strokeplay from Hayden and Mark Waugh.

Nothing, not even the energy-sapping heat and humidity, could stop the visitors today. They had decided not to get bogged down by the three-pronged Indian spin attack. They were not averse to using their feet against them and clear the infield at every given opportunity.

By not playing from within the crease, they sent out clear signals to the hosts. The spinners were never allowed to settle to a line, part of the Aussies� well thought-out gameplan. It was scintillating stuff, as Hayden launched on the offensive once Harbhajan Singh was brought into the attack in the fifth over of the day.

Sourav was forced to set a more defensive field as the opener threw caution to the winds. There was never a moment of indecisiveness as he came down the track with unfailing regularity.

His second century in the series and third in his career confirmed his growing stature in the Australian side, what with the presistent failure of his more experienced opening partner Michael Slater. He may not be the most gracious and elegant of lefthanders, but the power he instills in his strokes sets him apart. The five sixes � three off Nilesh Kulkarni and two off Harbhajan � in his 249-ball innings were all neatly struck.

Hayden�s innings was built on the twin pillars of concetration and application. He swept with relative ease, once the spinners erred in line, with six of his 12 fours coming off it. Only once during his 366-minute unbeaten stay did he falter � setting off for a cheeky single, he came back in time to dive full length and beat Shiv Sundar Das� throw from square leg.

Hayden�s precise footwork and correct stroke-selection meant that he did not repeat the mistakes from the Calcutta Test when he missed on a well-deserved century in the first innings. The 150-run third-wicket partnership he put on with Mark Waugh (70 off 136 balls, 7x4, 1x6) on a friendly wicket was built around some solid attacking display.

For the visitors, Mark�s return to form was a welcome relief. He has struggled to come to terms with the pace and bounce of the wickets in this series and has finally achieved success at the most appropriate time. The lazy elegance that has been the hallmark of his batting was in full evidence. The start was tentative when he survived a stumping chance off Kulkarni but he never looked back thereafter.

The Indian bowling was also to be blamed. The spinners seemed to forget the virtues of line and length once Hayden sent them all over the park. Harbhajan had begun well, flighting the ball and getting it to turn the odd one from across the face of the bat. But he, too, went on the defensive once the onslaught started.

Zaheer Khan looked more impressive in his four spells. He used the bounce of the wicket to good effect often troubling the batsmen with his subtle change of pace.

Kulkarni, playing his maiden home Test after being dumped following a two-Test stint in Sri Lanka in 1997, lacked variation. Bahutule also did not trouble the batsmen much but showed great anticipation in pitching one short of Mark Waugh when he saw the batsman charge at him. The intended on drive ended at mid-off where substitute Hemang Badani took a good running catch for the leg spinner�s maiden Test wicket.

Sourav Ganguly was thus forced to fall back on Sachin Tendulkar after tea. The flow of runs was somewhat checked but the breakthrough remained elusive. Steve Waugh�s firm approach meant the Indians were made to sweat it out.


Chennai, March 18: 
Had V.V.S. Laxman�s parents (both of whom are doctors) had their way, this wristy-accumulator would probably have been busy with surgeries Wednesday.

Instead, prompted by an uncle (Baba Krishna Mohan), Laxman, now 26, took to cricket and gave the sport one of the finest innings ever: 281 at the Eden.

From being just another member of the Indian team, then, the generally reticent (though never in an offensive way) Laxman has quickly become very hot property. Despite the demands, Laxman spoke to The Telegraph for around 20 minutes last evening.

Following are excerpts

On the world of cricket continuing to talk about his epic 281

While every sportsman welcomes appreciation, I feel it�s the team which should be talked about more, not my innings. Very frankly, even now, that I helped India pull off one of the greatest wins is what means more. The satisfaction wouldn�t have been the same had we just drawn or...

On how long it took him to recover, physically and in the mind, from the 633-minute marathon

It helped that Friday was a complete off-day and I didn�t exert myself on the next day either...That all of India feels proud has helped me recover quicker...Actually, it�s a great feeling that everyone sees my 281 as his/her own achievement.

On whether life has already begun to change

Don�t think so .... But even if some things do, I�m sure it won�t be drastic. In any case, the person in me won�t ever change. Today, for instance, I�m focussed on the final Test. I�m not thinking of anything else.

On whether he could himself better his 281

That only time will tell..... Hopefully, though, I can.

On whether he is indebted to or specially remembers anybody

So many .... Teammates in the Indian team, the team management, parents, uncle, every single coach who has worked with me and, yes, my Hyderabad teammates as well. It�s at times such as now that you just can�t forget those who stood by you when the going wasn�t good.

On looking skywards on reaching every milestone

I would thank God.... That, too, for three things: Giving the opportunity to play the second Test; to bat at No. 3 and, then, for helping get all the runs. Am I superstitious? No.

On what that 281 has taught him

That hanging in there, not allowing the concentration to waver, will get results.

On the period after tea on the fourth day when it appeared both he and Rahul Dravid were beginning to mentally concede ground

It was tough but Rahul and I backed each other, egged each other on and, most important, constantly reminded ourselves that it�s the team we were playing for, that so much still depended on us. I mean, for all the good work, one lapse then and India may have lost the Test .... Being mates in the zonal side, too, we understand each other well but Rahul that day was simply superb.

On how he (mentally) prepares for the big games

(Smiles) Wouldn�t like to disclose it ... Point I would make is that the series hasn�t been won.

On the contemporary batsmen he admires

Sachin Tendulkar, obviously... He�s a legend and I don�t have to say anything except that one learns so much by merely watching him on and off the field...Mark Waugh, too. I�m a fan of his elegance.

On whether he still has a soft corner for Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf � the two non-cricketers (as also Michael Jordan) he admires � or whether the Kafelnikovs and Hingis have displaced them

Not yet... (Grins) Let�s see, I may have a new favourite after this year�s Big W.

On being a friend of fellow Hyderabadi Pullela Gopichand, the newest All-England badminton champion

You know, no one nicer deserved to win... Gopi has gone through so much, three knee surgeries... All the years of struggle...I�m so happy for him. In fact, at the schools� level, we even played together though, strictly, he was in the seniors category and I a notch below. As a person, Gopi is humble and very, very determined. The kind I admire.

Finally, on whether there�s any connection with the other-in-the-news Laxman, Bangaru

(Laughs again) Absolutely not.


Chennai, March 18: 
A couple of years ago, when the Australian Cricket Board was shortlisting a clutch of spinners and a couple of batsmen, for sessions with Bishen Singh Bedi and Srinivas Venkatraghavan, Matthew Hayden �begged� that he be on the Chennai-bound party.

The dividends of that week-long (spinners� clinic) trip have been in evidence in the on-going Test series. With scores of 119 and 28 not out in Mumbai, 97 and 67 in Calcutta and the unbeaten (blemishless), career-best 147 today, Hayden has logged a phenomenal 458 runs and looks good for many more.

Seven years after his debut (versus South Africa, in Johannesburg), the burly 29-year-old Queenslander � quite similar in build to Carl Rackemann, now the Zimbabwe coach � can be said to have cemented his place.

Steve Waugh repeatedly spoke of �strong characters� for an India tour and, well, Hayden has been as strong as they come. Very committed, too. For instance, his way of preparing was to spend hours and hours on slow and low wickets in Brisbane. Such determination rarely goes unrewarded.

This evening, Hayden himself acknowledged the role that week-long visit has played in his 16-Test career. �I haven�t forgotten the lessons learnt then,� he remarked. One was to sweep with conviction. The other to target the No.1 spinner (in the present context, Harbhajan Singh).

Obviously, Hayden has been paying much attention to the sweep. �It�s (former coach) Bobby Simpson who really impressed upon me the benefits of confidently executing it,� he recalled, smiling. Simpson�s horses-for-courses approach has rubbed off well.

Though Hayden didn�t talk of his idol, while interacting with the Media, The Telegraph understands he is an Allan Border-worshipper. And Border (currently a selector), for his part, ensured Hayden was retained even though he scored only two fifties in the recent five-Test series at home against the West Indies.

Border and his colleagues (including one-time opener David Boon) should be all smiles now. Border, in fact, was at the Chepauk this afternoon when Hayden posted his third Test century. The first (125) was versus the West Indies in Adelaide, four years ago.

Actually, few expected Hayden to have such a big impact on this three-Test series, but it just shows how the most underrated cricketers can upstage the top guns. Indeed, there are similarities betwen Hayden and V.V.S. Laxman: Both have been prolific in domestic cricket; both have only now had their finest moment in the sport�s premier division.

Just a shade emotionally, Hayden pointed out that remaining unbeaten with a century on the opening day of a Test was something �he had only imagined as a boy.� All the more reason, then, that today�s effort will remain special.

Fellow-opener Michael Slater was expected to come out guns blazing, but it�s Hayden who has almost been doing a Navjyot Singh Sidhu. On Australia�s last India trip (early 1998), after all, Sidhu would lay the perfect foundation for Sachin Tendulkar to feast on the bowling.

According to Hayden, his being positive is part of the larger gameplan and his natty footwork more the result of �confidence� and �playing with conviction.� The priority now, as Hayden put it, was to �drive home the advantage (326 for three).�

Hayden, at least, has quickly forgotten the �hiccup� in Calcutta.


Chennai, March 18: 
Nayan Mongia was dropped from the team on the morning of the match after a series of consultations between the selectors, skipper Sourav Ganguly and physio Andrew Leipus in full public view.

It is learnt that Mongia had insisted on playing, declaring himself fit. The team�s thinktank also wanted to have Mongia included but the selectors ruled in favour of Samir Dighe.

Arguments and counter arguments followed but the selectors stuck to their guns. They felt Mongia was still unfit and it was only logical to have Dighe.

Leipus had declared Mongia medically fit, and the wicketkeeper said he had practised for three hours yesterday without any problem. The selectors, however, found the argument not good enough.

�There�s still some swelling on the fractured nose,� said Chandu Borde, chairman of the selection committee, after the opening day�s play.

Mongia, who was struck on the nose while keeping wickets on the final day of the Calcutta Test, still has a strapping around the injury. He left for Baroda today and will play in the Ranji Trophy quarter final against Tamil Nadu this week.


Chennai, March 18: 
Yuvraj Singh has been omitted from the first three one-dayers against Australia. The 14-member squad picked by the national selectors today includes Jawagal Srinath, Vangipurappu Laxman and Harbhajan Singh. Dinesh Mongia is the new face in the side.

The first one-dayer is in Bangalore on March 25. Other notable names excluded from the side that played Zimbabwe at home, are Reetinder Singh Sodhi and S. Sriram.

Srinath, who was ruled out of the second and third Tests on grounds of overall fitness, had decided to skip one-dayers of late. He had missed the Asia Cup in Dhaka, the ICC KnockOut Trophy in Nairobi and the last series against Zimbabwe. But having expressed his willingness to play the shorter version of the game he submitted a doctor�s certificate today.

�The doctor�s certificate says that he will be fit in a couple of days. If he is found to be unfit in Bangalore, no player will be taken in his place,� informed Chandu Borde after the two hour meeting.

Yuvraj was excluded on current form, according to the chairman of the selection committee. According to sources, it was a choice between Yuvraj and Mongia and the latter got the nod because of his brilliant run in the domestic circuit.

Borde also said that they were toying with the idea of using Rahul Dravid as a wicketkeeper in the one-dayers to lend �more balance to the side�. �The issue was discussed and we may try it out sometime,� he said.

Virender Sehwag and Robin Singh also make a comeback to the side after being overlooked against Zimbabwe. Among the other names discussed were Debashish Mohanty, Venkatesh Prasad, Rahul Sanghvi, Murali Karthik and Rakesh Patel.

THE SQUAD � Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Hemang Badani, Dinesh Mongia, Vijay Dahiya, Jawagal Srinath, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan, Sunil Joshi, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, Robin Singh.


Calcutta, March 18: 
Bagan 6
Mahindra 0

Mohun Bagan decided to sink the pain of their defeat against lowly SBT with a party. And whenever there is a Mohun Bagan binge, one Jose Ramirez Barreto doesn�t usually keep quiet.

Barreto scored thrice, after R.C. Prakash had opened the floodgates seconds after the start. To confirm it was just not Mahindra United�s day, Naushad Musa and Bernard Oparanozie conceded self-goals which completed a 6-0 rout.

The margin of victory was the biggest in this National Football League, bettering Air India�s 6-1 win over SBT.

There was still little joy in the Mohun Bagan camp as they stayed six points behind leaders East Bengal, who have 31 from 14 matches. Mahindra, a team ravaged by injuries, have 14 from as many games.

The Mumbai champions were prepared to play the waiting game and frustrate their opponents rather than putting them under pressure. The early goal upset all their plans and there was no way they could recover.

Lolendra Singh sent in a low cross from the left which was deflected by Barreto towards Prakash and the latter spun away from his markers to produce a right-footed jab for his 11th goal of the League.

Mahindra tried to turn things around and did reply with some incisive moves but Barreto buried them with a delightful goal in the 25th minute. Basudeb Mondal released Prakash down the middle but the latter cleverly back-heeled the ball for an advancing Barreto who fired a low left-footer home from the top of the box.

It was all Mohun Bagan after that, with Mondal and Rennedy Singh essaying defence-splitting passes. Things would have got worse for the visitors had James Singh not been off-colour. The Mahindra defence simply caved in and the next two goals were clear signs of a team crumbling under sustained pressure.

First, Musa�s nervous attempt to intercept Barreto�s pass for Prakash saw the ball roll in past the hapless �keeper in the 34th minute. Then, Bernard�s attempt to head away Dulal Biswas� cross sailed into the net in the 54th. Both were relatively harmless balls but the defenders panicked, and while trying to do things quicker than necessary, committed errors.

Barreto decided it was time his team scored some of its own goals and the soccer that followed is what which makes the Brazilian a treat to watch. In the 59th, he took a first-time right-footer off Lolendra�s cross which was parried well by Virender Singh but Barreto showed amazing reflexes and cracked a left-footer off the rebound to give the �keeper no chance.

The best of his three, as described by the player himself, came in the 86th when he picked up a loose ball outside the box after a post-corner melee and imperiously floated in a right-footed in-swinger that curled in to the far corner.

Barreto, with five goals in the last two matches, is now second in the scorers� list with nine. Prakash leads the table with 11.


MOHUN BAGAN: Rajat Ghosh Dastidar; Dulal Biswas, Hussain Mustafi, M. Suresh (Naushad Pari, 87th), Lolendra Singh; James Singh (Goutam Ghosh, 83rd), Basudeb Mondal (Flavio Lopez, 75th), Debjit Ghosh, Rennedy Singh; R.C. Prakash, Jose Ramirez Barreto.

MAHINDRA UNITED: Virender Singh; Ramesh Rajak, Christopher Kem, Naushad Musa, Sanjay Dayal; Bernard Oparanozie, Dawood Hussaini (Anthony Pereira, 62nd), Aqueel Ansari, Khalid Siddique; Harish Sharma (Abhay Kumar, 44th), Manjit Singh (Shamsi Reza, 50th).

Referee: B.K. Singh


Calcutta, March 18: 
With the championship battle being restricted to two-three teams, there is quite a competition going on to avoid relegation.

In one such game, Tollygunge Agragami, who have squandered excellent opportunities of upsetting some of the top teams at home, meet Air India at Rabindra Sarobar Stadium tomorrow.

With 14 points from 13 matches and just three home games remaining (including tomorrow�s clash), they are looking to collect full points. Air India have 13 from as many games.

Tollygunge will be at full strength after quite some time, and club officials singled out this match as the one they intend to collect full points from. Scoring has been their main problem and this department will once again be tested tomorrow.

�The teams are more or less equal but we will look for a win,� said a senior club official.

Air India coach Bimal Ghosh thinks his team has been faring poorly in attack. There are no serious injuries in his team. He said Tollygunge start favourites for their decent record at home.

His team has also been inconsistent though there is a good midfield, where a fair sprinkling of youth make it fast and mobile.

Churchill beat JCT 1-0

In Ludhiana, JCT Mills� torrid run in the National League continued today when they lost yet another home match to Churchill Brothers by a solitary goal, reports PTI. The all important goal was scored in the 76th minute by Francis Silveira.


Mumbai, March 18: 
The Arti Doctor-trained Wild Eagle claimed the Breeders Juvenile Colts Championship in Mumbai on Sunday.


(With inter-state dividends)
1. Noble Princess Plate 1,800m: (7-5-4) Tout De Suite (Aadesh) 1; Seychelles 2; Ocean Breeze 3. Won by: 1; 5-1/2; (1-52.8). Tote: Win Rs 128; Place: 26; 11; 29; Quinella: 153; Tanala: 3,035.
2. P. R. Metha Trophy 2,400m: (5-4-1) Cozumel (McCullagh) 1; Count Dracula 2; Altazano 3. Won by: 1/2; 5-1/2; (2-34.9). Tote: Win Rs 74; Place: 30; 35; Quinella: 204; Tanala: 1,020.
3. Dramatic Irony Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (13-9-11) Champion Reef (Shelar) 1; Timeless Elegance 2; Golden Star 3. Won by: SH; 3/4; (1-15.8). Tote: Win Rs 468; Place: 110; 20; 22; Quinella: 2,783; Tanala: 19,062.
4. Dramatic Irony Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (6-2-5) Stay With Me (Suraj) 1; Mick�s Mystique 2; Tulsa Time 3. Won by: Nk; Hd; (1-15.6). Tote: Win Rs 50; Place: 18; 53; 16; Quinella: 704; Tanala: 5,222.
5. Elusive Pimpernel Trophy 2,000m: (6-3-1) Altimara (Kader) 1; Desert Pride 2; Signal Tap 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 9-1/2; (2-5.2). Tote: Win R 20; Place: 12; 11; 23; Quinella: 20; Tanala: 110.
6. Shapoorji Pallonji Breeders� Juvenile Colts Championship 1,600m: (1-7-5) Wild Eagle (Shroff) 1; Starsky 2; Radical Force 3. Not run: Dazzling Gold (3). Won by: 2-3/4; 7-1/2; (1-38,1). Tote: Win Rs 15; Place: 10; 13; 29; Quinella: 16; Tanala: 139.
7. D. F Karaka Trophy 1,600m: (8-13-10) Power Surge (McCullagh) 1; Alustar 2; Full Reason 3. Won by: 6-1/2; 2-1/2; (1-38.6). Tote: Win Rs 30; Place: 14; 50; 38; Quinella: 206; Tanala: 3,579.
8. Manjri Stud Breeders� Juvenile Fillies� Championship 1,600m: (1-2-4) Memories Of You (Rajendra) 1; Queenscliff 2; Astor Place 3. Won by: 1-3/4; SH; (1-38.3). Tote: Win Rs 34; Place: 16; 19; 14; Quinella: 78; Tanala: 232.
9. Royal Deeds Plate 1,600m: (7-2-1) Winning Melody (M. Narredu) 1; Chari-smatic 2; Colonel�s Dream 3. Won by: 4; 1-3/4; (1-40.7). Tote: Win Rs 161; Place: 36; 15; 53; Quinella: 365; Tanala: 20,650.
10. Ray of Light Plate 1,100m: (15-4-1) Snow Star (Kamlesh) 1; Millenium Star 2; Cotopaxi 3. Not run: Zillion Figlia (9). Won by: 9; SH; (1-7). Tote: Win Rs 26; Place: 14; 26; 21; Quinella: 130; Tanala: 636. Fav: Snow Star (15).
Jackpot: (i) Rs 14,205; (C) Rs 2,204; (ii) Rs 15,906; (C) Rs 2,328.
Treble: (i) Rs 7,545; (ii) Rs 77; (iii) Rs 2,699.

Calcutta, March 18: 
There are five horses in the running for the 1,600m Dashmesh And Hargobind Stud Grand Annual Handicap, the chief event in Wednesday�s seven-event race-card. First race starts at 1. 10 pm.


1. Dalkeith Handicap 1,600m (Cl V, Rt. 00-28) 1.10 pm: Consul�s Secret 60.5; Supreme Desire 60.5; Nearco Prince 57.5; Armila 56.5; Ghunghat 50.
2. Dashmesh And Hargobind Stud Grand Annual Handicap 1,600m (3-y-o only) 1.40 pm: Accrete 60; Aherlow 58; Regency Times 55; Alamito 52; Arterial 50.
3. Cradle Of The Deep Handicap 1,100m (Cl IV; 5-y-o & over Rt. 22-50) 2.20 pm: Kargil Soldier 60.5; Constantine 60; Storm Centre 56; Aflicker 54; Gentle Priest 53.5; Rheinheart 52; Pure Passion 51.5; All Jade 50.5; Glass Slipper 50.5; Friendly Knight 49.5; Stella Blue 48.
4. Deep Water Blues Handicap, Div-I 1,400m: (Cl III; Rt. 44-72) 2.55 pm: Classic Pursuit 60; Solo Act 59; Azurica 58; Santillana 57.5; Mr. Bombshell 56; Alkido 55.5; Red Trident 54; Beau Bruno 53.5; Ballet Master 51.5; Spanish Drum�s 51.
5. Idle Rocks Handicap 1,200m (Cl V, Rt. 18 & below) 3.30 pm: Neelanjana 60; Adeline 59; Piece Of Cake 58; Pistol Star 56; Private Lives 55.5; Fencai 52; Three Good 52; Magic Ring 51.5; Arizona Star 49.5; Fibonacci 47.
6. Bookmakers� Association Cup 1,400m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) 4.05 pm: As A Rule 60; Black Mane 60; Citadel 59.5; Bold Apparel 58.5; Diplomatic Gesture 58.5; Alterezza 58; Madame X 56; Aileron 55.5; Pneumatic Power 54.5; Tequila Shot 53.5; Ballard Lady 52; Blessed Spirit 52; Special Sovereign 52; Eau Savage 51.5; Software 48.
7. Deep Water Blues Handicap, Div-II 1,400m (Cl III; Rt. 44-72) 4.40 pm: Ace Of Spades 60; Charlene 59.5; Double Bull 59; High Life 57; Cool Quest 56.5; Crucible 56; Queen�s Logic 55.5; Alborada 53; Peace Envoy 52.
Jackpot: 3; 4; 5; 6 & 7.
Treble: (i) 2; 3 & 4; (ii) 5; 6 & 7.

Calcutta, March 18: 
In races run fair, upsets are generally attributed to improved performances by horses and the skill of jockeys often go unapplauded. Yet, jockeys are the ones who make the difference between victory and defeat.

On March 14, the performances of two horses � Stately Don and Surfside � were a result of both their improvement as well as the crafty handling by the riders. It helped them turn the tables on rivals thought to be much better placed by the terms of races.

Victory for the �Don� in the 1,600m Governor�s Cup was ruled out against Alyssum, who not only enjoyed a significant weight advantage but also had the services of champion jockey Aslam Kader. In horseracing, the age of seven is an unlikely time for improvement, but jockey Imran Khan had other ideas about the Daniel David-charge. Known for his short but very effective burst at the finish, the Don�s trait was exploited to the hilt by the jockey for a fruitful result.

The results of the 2,800m Queen�s Cup had hardly made a case for Surfside�s victory in the last classic of the season, the Calcutta St Leger, over an identical trip. The Green Forest-Nafazaka filly was also handicapped by the remote-controlled training of her Bangalore-based schooler Darius Byramji. Yet she triumphed, and with authority. Full marks to the visiting jockey Chowksey Ruzaan for his handling of the filly. Ridden by Mark Reuben in the Queen�s Cup on similar terms, Surfside had finished over two lengths behind Andreyev, who found favour of the backers in the Leger.

Equally disappointing was the performance of Alvarada over the staying trip. The fast pace set by Andestine and an erratic Harry The Horse could not have unsettled the Razeen-Enfin Seule daughter, though she looked a shadow of her past during the paddock parade. She was expected to have got over the Derby-eve slashing injury on her hock.

Failed-favourites in their previous starts were presented with opportunities to make amends on the day. It was good to see three of them doing so. Tsaynen Blue in the opener, the Play On Handicap, made short-work of her eight rivals as the Javed Khan-trainee stepped into the lead from the start to retire a comfortable winner. She has more races in store, albeit over longer trips than 1,200m.

A big let down in his previous outing, Scavenger�s Son attracted very little support in the 2,000m Long Tom Handicap, thanks to smart thinking of trainer Daniel David, reposing faith in a weak jockey like S. Tamang. The Argyle Lake-Steamy Affair five-year-old also won from the start.

Soviet Port, who�s winning streak was stopped by Mr Bombshell, made no mistake in the hands of Ruzaan as the Bold Russian-Raging Lady colt was hardly under pressure to win the Madras Race Club Cup over a 1,200m sprint which may not be his play ground.


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