India, Pakistan to battle for Open top spot
Bhratri unveil 2001 plans
BNR team pips Paikpara CC
India open vs Malaysia U-23
Ootacamund Racing/ Mighty Squaw triumphs

Calcutta, May 23: 
The 11th Asia & Middle East bridge championship, the biennial championships of Zone IV of the World Bridge Federation, is to be held from tomorrow to June 2 at the Gulf Hotel in Bahrain. The championship starts with the one-day Friendship Pairs tomorrow, which, as the name suggests, is more of a warm-up event.

The main battles start the day after with the Open Teams for the Zakaria Adamjee Trophy and the Women�s Teams for the Vinodini Goenka Trophy. Both are qualifying events for the world championships in Bali later this year with the top two in the Open to play in the Bermuda Bowl and the winner of the Women�s qualifying for the Venice Cup.

There will also be a three-day pairs events, the BBC Trans-national Pairs, to be played alongside the knockouts in the two main events.

Since the Senior�s Team event has been added to the world championship this year, a seniors� qualifying event was scheduled in Bahrain. However, this could be a non-starter due to a paucity of entries.

Eight nations � Bahrain, Bangladesh, India, Jordan, Qatar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Syria � are to take part in the Open Teams with Palestine likely to join in.

The teams would play a double round-robin qualifying, three 20-board matches a day over five or six days from Friday. The top four will play knock-out semi-finals on May 31 (or 30th and 31st depending on the number of days of qualifying) and the final on June 1 and 2.

The Indian team comprises Mrs Kiran Nadar, K.R. Venkataraman, B. Satyanarain, Rajesh Dalal, Subhash Gupta and this correspondent, with N. Nagappan as the non-playing captain.

All six players have experience at the international level and the last three were members of the team that won the title in 1997 in Cape Town when Africa was part of the Zone.

Pakistan also have an experienced line-up, spear-headed by old war-horse Masud Salim, the best player of Pakistan after Zia Mahmood who now plays for the US. Salim�s teammates are Shahin Iqbal, Javaid Khalid, Mirza Shauq Hussain, Tahir Abbas Mirza and Mohsin Mushtaque Chandna with Masood Mazhar as the non-playing captain.

Sri Lanka can prove to be a thorn for either of these teams as it has done in the past, but the battle for the top spot is likely to be between India and Pakistan.

The scenario is likely to be same in the Women�s Team, in which confirmed entries have been received only from five nations � Bahrain, India, Jordan, Pakistan and Lanka. Palestine may provide a sixth entry. The teams will play a triple round-robin of 20-board matches, with two making the final.

Both India and Pakistan have squads with lot of international exposure which should see them through to the final after which it would be anybody�s match.

Doing duty for India are Bimal Sicka, Yvette Singapurin, Marianne Karmarkar, Geeta Lakhani, Ameeta Raythatha and Feroza Chotia, led by non-playing captain Mahendar Kumar Choudhury.

Pakistan are being represented by Qudsia Dossa, Najam Abid, Roshan Ara Bokhari, Rubina Agha, Zeenat Azwer and Shahnaz Pirzada, with Tariq Rasheed as the non-playing captain.

Over the years, India have outscored Pakistan more often in the Women�s event and this year could turn out to be no exception.


Calcutta, May 23: 
A combination of contradiction and hope will mark Bhratri Sangha�s maiden entry to the Super Division of the Calcutta League.

Contradiction because club officials are talking about introducing professionalism, while their own team has players who work elsewhere. But what overshadows that is the will to establish the team as a force in the local league and all moves to that direction have so far been successful.

Bhratri Sangha, with Amal Dutta as coach, emerged group A champions last year and have hired another high-profile coach in Shabbir Ali this season. The team roster does not look as strong, but there are a few with experience in bigger clubs and also a few members from the state junior team. There are some outstation recruitments as well.

Officials said they are trying to make the club 100 per cent professional by floating shares and having full-time professional players. These things, however, are still on the planning stage.

They added they are thinking of appointing a �status committee� which will decide the payment structure and all players will be covered by insurance. As of now, mainly the outstation players are hired on monthly-salary contracts.

Shabbir, who has agreed to take charge of such a low-profile club after stints with National League champions Salgaocar and title-aspirants Mahindra United, said he would give off his best.

He had to face a volley of questions on what prompted him to leave Mahindras at a media conference this evening. He made clear there were problems aplenty in the Mumbai team and he did not enjoy the best of relations with the management.

�Internal� obstacles and injuries to key players led to Mahindra�s dismal run in the recent National League, he observed. �All would take credit after a victory and blame the coach after a defeat,� he said.

Mridul under-21 Bengal coach

The IFA today appointed Mridul Banerjee as coach of the Bengal under-21 team for the nationals to be held in Assam next month. Banerjee has earlier coached Mohammedan Sporting.

Big Two �disciplined�

Meanwhile, the IFA today stopped East Bengal and Mohun Bagan from signing up some players as the players and club officials failed to turn up in time.    

Calcutta, May 23: 
BNR School of Cricket pipped Paikpara CC by four runs in the Pepsi Ambar Roy memorial sub-junior tournament at Eden Gardens today.

The BNR team made 123 for six and restricted Paikpara to 119 for three. Bhadrakali Kotrang YS, Barasat Subhas Institute and Barasat Association also posted victories.


BNR School of Cricket 123/6 in 25 ovs (Nilabha Debnath 46, Debapriya Sur 25). Paikpara CC 119/3 in 25 ovs (Sourav Biswas 40 n.o., Rahul Singh 49 n.o.). BNR School of Cricket won by 4 runs.

Bimalendu Smriti CC 106 in 22.3 ovs. Bhadrakali Kotrang Sangha 107/7 in 23.1 ovs. Bhadrakali Kotrang Sangha won by 3 wkts.

Barasat Subhas Institute 136/6 in 25 ovs (Sudip Chatterjee 61). Liluah CCC 115/6 in 25 ovs (S. Goswami 33). Barasat Subhas Institute won by 22 runs.

Pankaj Gupta CC 154/6 in 25 ovs (Sourav Sen Gupta 63). Barasat Association 159/5 in 24.5 ovs (M. Ghosh 71, Subhrajit Banerjee 42). Barasat Association won by 5 wkts.

State junior basketball

Rakhee Sangha will meet Birbhum in the girls� final of the state junior basketball meet at Chetla Park tomorrow. In today�s semis, Rakhee Sangha beat Burdwan 40-32 while Birbhum ousted BBYS 41-35.

In the boys� section, Burdwan clinched a 52-51 thriller against Barisha AC and clinched berth in the final.


New Delhi, May 23: 
Playing in the Merdeka Cup for the first time since 1986, India begin their campaign on June 22 versus the Malaysian under-23 team.

In this eight-nation meet, slated from June 21-30, India are placed in the relatively easier group B. Others in their group are recent pre-World Cup opponents UAE and Thailand. The Malaysia under-23 team is coached by Englishman Alan Harris.

There are two European teams in group A � Slovakia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, runners-up in the Sahara Cup held in India earlier this year. Other teams in this group are Malaysia and Bahrain. Two teams from each group qualify for the semi-finals.

India have never won the Merdeka meet but finished runners-up twice, in 1959 and 1964.


June 21: Slovakia vs Bosnia-Herzegovina and Malaysia vs Bahrain.

June 22: Thailand vs UAE and Malaysia U-23 vs India.

June 23: Bosnia Herzegovina vs Bahrain and Malaysia vs Slovakia.

June 24: Malaysia U-23 vs UAE and India vs Thailand.

June 25: Bahrain vs Slovakia and Malaysia vs Bosnia-Herzegovina.

June 26: UAE vs India and Malaysia U-23 vs Thailand.

June 28: Semi-finals: winners of Gr. A vs runners-up of Gr. B; winners of Gr. B vs runners-up of Gr. A.

June 30: Final.


Ootacamund, May 23: 
Ridden by S. Amjad Khan, the Robert Foley-trained five-year-old Mighty Squaw lifted the 2,000m Udhagamandalam Cup at the Ootacamund (Udhagamandalam) races held on Wednesday.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Cherambadi Plate 1,600m: (3-1-4) Fairy Winter (A. Imran) 1; Legendary Lover 2; Bengal Lancer 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 6; (1-42.4). Tote: Win Rs 12; Place: 11; 28; 73; Quinella: 81; Tanala: 1,135. Fav: Fairy Winter (3).

2. Coorg Plate 1,200m: (8-5-1) Autumn Hues (Hesnain) 1; Cherokee Rose 2; Break The Silence 3. Won by: 1; Dist; (1-16). Tote: Win Rs 27; Place: 17; 17; 34; Quinella: 63; Tanala: 820. Fav: Cherokee Rose (5).

3. Maruthamalai Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (9-11-5) Sergeant Slipper (Ross) 1; Swing Till Dawn 2; Brave Vision 3. Won by 5; 1-1/2; (1-15.1). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 13; 47; 19; Quinella: 167; Tanala: 620. Fav: Sergeant Slipper (9).

4. S. J. K. Irani Memorial Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (4-3-9) Octogonal (Milan) 1; Height Of Elegance 2; Orange Pippins 3. Won by: 2-3/4; 3-1/2; (1-16.7). Tote: Win Rs 16; Place: 13; 47; 20; Quinella: 329; Tanala: 2,208. Fav: Octogonal (4).

5. Udhagamandalam Cup 2,000m: (2-5-6) Mighty Squaw (S. Amjad) 1; Classic Society 2; Master Weaver 3. Won by: 2-1/2; 1-1/4; (2-16.2). Tote: Win Rs 15; Place: 12; 38; Quinella: 79; Tanala: 265. Fav: Mighty Squaw (2).

6. S. J. K. Irani Memorial Plate, Div-II 1,200: (3-11-6) Snow Empress (Prem) 1; Grand Kristalion 2; Jeanpoteau 3. Won by: 3-1/4; 2-1/4; (1-16.3). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 13; 13; 33; Quinella: 38; Tanala: 181. Fav: Jeanpoteau (6).

7. Maruthamalai Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (9-7-4) Armiger (Ross) 1; Bourbon Boy 2; Balma 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 3; (1-16.8). Tote: Win Rs 13; Place: 11; 40; 30; Quinella: 124; Tanala: 1,053. Fav: Armiger (9).

8. Sathyamangalam Plate 1,600m: (7-10-12) Fashion Delight (S. Amjad) 1; Money Matters 2; Star Comand 3. Not run: Dyanamic Girl (3). Won by: 1-3/4; 5-1/2; (1-45). Tote: Win Rs 131; Place: 55; 22; 77; Quinella: 458; Tanala: 16,000 (Carried over). Fav: Arctic Charmer (9).

Jackpot: Rs 3,674; (C) Rs 83.

Treble: (i) Rs 1,556; (ii) Rs 953.

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