East Bengal drop point vs E. Railway
Bagan win despite Sourav�s 72
Assam players in three finals
Seamers will have key role, feels Sourav
Shukla let off with �warning�
Ex-natl hockey player dead
Ootacamund Racing/ �Flame� fancied

Calcutta, May 4: 
East Bengal dropped a crucial point this afternoon, leaving the BHA first division group A championship tussle intriguingly poised.

The 2-2 draw with Eastern Railway Sports Association (ERSA) in their penultimate fixture gives East Bengal 21 points from 12 matches. The tally of Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC), the other title-contenders, stands at 20 from 11 games.

CESC go into their penultimate tie against ERSA tomorrow with a one-point advantage for sure, but then they come up against East Bengal Monday in what will be the decisive duel.

East Bengal today hardly looked a side within striking distance of the hockey crown. The railwaymen called the shots in the first half, and it was only in the final 15 minutes that East Bengal showed the urge to push more men to the other end of the field.

ERSA, without any hope of a top-three finish, went a goal up five minutes into the match through the nippy Rajesh Lakra.

East Bengal levelled scores in the 19th minute following their first decent move. Pramod Kumar, the hard-working half-back, played the ball forward to Sylvester Minz who, in turn, relayed it to Brajesh Singh. Singh�s pass created some confusion in the ERSA ranks and before goalkeeper Deb Kumar Das could react, Gregory Minz tapped the ball in.

It was on the half-hour mark that ERSA regained the lead. A stick-charge on Lakra, just when he was about to shoot at goal from six yards away, resulted in a penalty stroke. Petrus Ekka scooped it high and wide of custodian C.K. Debnath.

As ERSA players showed signs of tiring, East Bengal stepped on the gas. Ten minutes after change of ends, Brajesh Singh�s well-improvised scoop-drive was just palmed out of harm�s way by Debnath.

The goal that helped East Bengal restore parity a second time was delightfully set up by Gregory Minz. Going wide on the right, the balding veteran shielded Parvez Alam and chipped the ball into the path of Pramod Kumar from the goalline. All Pramod had to do was get a stick to the ball.

Realising the importance of one more goal, East Bengal pushed themselves hard. A Pramod cross found Gregory Minz in the striking zone. Failing to trap the ball properly, Minz went for a desperate reverse-flick which went wide.

A couple of half-chances went abegging for East Bengal and, in the end, they were lucky not to concede a 69th-minute goal. An angular hit by Ekka, off a an indirect penalty corner attempt, was pushed out from the goalline by S.C. Toppo.

Lakra hattrick

At the East Bengal ground, Ranjan Lakra helped FCI sign off on a winning note.

Lakra scored all three goals for his team, sounding the boards once in the first half and two in the second.

BSF N. Bengal top grp B

Earlier this afternoon, BSF (North Bengal) produced a stirring display to clinch the group B title.

Going into their final match needing a win to pip Khalsa Blues to the championship, the securitymen thumped Punjab SC 5-1. S. Horo struck a brace, W. Baxla, C.R. Nag and M. Kandulna one apiece.

BSF (North Bengal) finished with 22 points from 12 matches, while Khalsa Blues had already completed their engagements with 21. Ironically, the only points BSF lost were courtesy a defeat to Khalsa Blues.

But no one can deny the securitymen their place in the sun. Last season, they topped the second division table and now they have gone one better to book a berth in next year�s elite division.


Calcutta, May 4: 
What was supposed to be just another local match turned out to be special with Sourav Ganguly turning up for CAB President�s XI against Mohun Bagan in today�s P. Sen Trophy match at Eden Gardens.

The India skipper didn�t disappoint, hitting a polished 72, but that was not enough as Mohun Bagan beat his team to a berth in the semi-finals with a well-compiled seven-wicket win.

Coming in at No. 3 after the early loss of Manavendra Yadav, Sourav found an able partner in cousin and fellow left-hander Subhradeep Ganguly (28) to add 70 for the second wicket.

He added 70 more with Mainak Sengupta (31) for the third before both fell in quick succession. Sourav�s 80-ball knock included seven fours and two sixes. He was caught by Utpal Chatterjee at widish long-on off Vishal Yadav.

The CAB team failed to accelerate after that and stopped at 225 for eight in 46 overs.

Overs were reduced as play started an hour late following the early-morning rain. Mohun Bagan were penalised two overs for slow bowling and had to get the runs in 44 overs. They did that in 37.5 overs.

Nikhil Haldipur played an uncharacteristic and responsible innings of 86 and Sanjiv Goel played the role of aggressor for his 78. Their unbroken fourth-wicket stand produced 132 in 21.4 overs. Haldipur�s 96-ball innings included six fours, while Goel struck three fours and four sixes off 77 balls.

Sourav�s team was severely handicapped in bowling and barring Sanjib Sanyal, none managed to create any impact on the batsmen. The skipper chanced his arm too, but that was not as effective as his batting as he went wicketless in six overs.

BRIEF SCORES: CAB President�s XI 225/8 in 46 ovs (Sourav Ganguly 72, Sanjib Sanyal 30 n.o., Laxmi Ratan Shukla 3/40, Vishal Yadav 2/37). Mohun Bagan 226/3 in 37.5 ovs (Nikhil Haldipur 86 n.o., Sanjiv Goel 78 n.o., Laxmi Ratan Shukla 28). Bagan won by 7 wkts.

Schools� cricket

New Alipore Multipurpose, Scottish Church Collegiate School and Jodhpur Boys posted wins in the CAB inter-school under-19 cricket tournament today. The first two and Naktala HS booked the remaining three slots in the knockout second round.

Bhowanipore Gujarati Education Society 113 in 19.5 ovs (Ritesh Lal Jha 40, Goutam Dey 3/16, Abhirup Ganguly 3/21). Scottish Church 117/4 in 22.3 ovs (Soumyadeep Sarkar 51). Scottish Church won by 6 wkts.

Khalsa HS 149/9 in 25 ovs (Sanjay Pathak 39, Supratik Sinha 4/18, Arijit Basu Mallik 3/33). Jodhpur Boys 152/6 in 24 ovs (Saibal Gupta 62). Jodhpur Boys won by 4 wkts.

Calcutta Anglo Gujarati School 123/6 in 30 ovs (Kaushik Thakkar 48). New Alipore Multipurpose 124/0 in 15.4 ovs (Santadip Paul 52 n.o., Anindya Das 55 n.o.). New Alipore Multipurpose won by 10 wkts.


Calcutta, May 4: 
Three of the four finals in tomorrow�s Bharat Petroleum Bengal state mini and sub-junior tennis meet will be between Assam players.

The only final pitting two Bengal players is the one for the boys� under-16 where top seed Sabyasachi Bose meets No. 2 Samrat Ghosh. In the only upset of the day, fourth seed Varsha Dutta of Assam beat statemate Kasturi Verma 6-1, 6-0 to reach the girls� under-16 final. She meets unseeded Sanjukta Barooah who ovcercame Bengal�s Devanshi Rajgharia 6-4, 6-1.


Boys� U-16: Sabyasachi Bose (Ben) bt Sanjib Mohan (Asm) 6-1, 6-0; Samrat Ghosh (Ben) bt Nirvick Mohinta (Ben) 7-5, 6-3. Boys� U-14: Abhinab Bora (Asm) bt Farid Alam (Ben) 6-2, 6-3; Abhinab Sharma (Asm) bt Kaushik das (Asm) 6-1, 6-1. Girls� U-16: Sanjukta Barooah (Asm) bt Devanshi Rajgharia (Ben) 6-4, 6-1; Varsha Datta (Asm) bt Kasturi Verma (Asm) 6-1, 6-0. Girls� U-14: Varsha Datta (Asm) bt Karina Ahuja (Ben) 6-4, 6-3; Kasturi Verma (Asm) bt Parna Das (Asm) 6-4, 6-0.    

Calcutta, May 4: 
Having beaten Australia in a pulsating home series, India skipper Sourav Ganguly is now eyeing an away win. He gets a chance to accomplish that during the tour of Zimbabwe at the end of this month.

To that end, he feels bowling is the area which needs improvement. Seam bowling, to be specific. �Our fast bowlers will have an important role to play as they are expected to get some assistance from the conditions. This is the area we have to work on.�

Wicketkeeping, the skipper mentioned, is another position which needs attention. �We have been looking for someone who can bat as well,� he said today. About Bengal stumper Deep Dasgupta, named among the probables along with Mumbai gloveman Samir Dighe and Haryana�s Ajay Ratra, Sourav could not comment much, saying he had seen him in just one match.

The department he seemed supremely confident of was batting. The remarkable recovery against Australia obviously giving him the trust. �The best in the world,� was how he described it.


Calcutta, May 4: 
The CAB today let Laxmi Ratan Shukla go with a �final warning� for misbehaving with teammate Utpal Chatterjee in the Knockout fiinal last week.

The CAB decided not to punish the player, considering his �age and potential� but took an undertaking from the youngster where he wrote he would accept any punishment if the act was repeated.

Shukla had earlier been banned for two months for behaving improperly with stand-in captain Srikant Kalyani during the Ranji Trophy tie against Bihar. In last week�s match, Shukla hurled his bat down to the ground after being run out following a misunderstanding with Utpal.

Utpal didn�t include him in the XI in the next match. He said he woudn�t lead but play as an ordinary player if Shukla had to be included. Vishal Yadav has been leading the team, with Shukla in the XI, in the ongoing P. Sen meet.


Calcutta, May 4: 
BSF North Bengal player-cum-coach Naman Murmu, a former India hockey international, passed away in Siliguri last month following an accident.

The 37-year-old Murmu, a sub-inspector with BSF North Bengal, was part of the Indian squad which toured The Netherlands, Russia and Sri Lanka between 1991 and �93.


The Mandanna-trained Rebounding Flame is expected to lift the 1,600m Arni Plate, the main event at the Ootacamund (Udhagamandalam) races on Saturday. Kariappa partners the four-year-old colt by Rebounding Thrill out of Northern Love.


11.30 am: Rebounding Flame 1. Montjeu Star 2. Musical Light 3.
12 noon: Ocean Pearl 1. Calypso Run 2. San Marino 3.
12.35 pm: Snow Top 1. Unaproachable 2. Valuable Boy 3.
1.05 pm: Cool Prospect 1. Stato King 2. Noble Lord 3.
1.35 pm: Like A Princess 1. Common Spirit 2. Swing Till Dawn 3.
2.05 pm: Bold Enough 1. Racing Wings 2. Creator 3.
2.35 pm: Morning Sun 1. Bold Gold 2. Crown Haunt 3.

Day�s Best: Snow Top

Double: Rebounding Flame & Cool Prospect

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