Lack of match practice was Gopichand�s undoing
Pratik grabs sole lead
Md. AC eke out 1-0 victory
TTFI, BTTA bury hatchet
Mousumi, Subham champions
Bengal to �import� Ranji coach

By any yardstick this was our shuttlers� best performance in a world championship. Though no one reached the semi-finals in the individual events, Indian players impressed experts in Seville where the 2001 edition of the Sudirman Cup and the world individual championships got over recently.

Why Pullela Gopichand stumbled in the quarter finals is a question which needs to be answered before I go on to analyse the performances of the rest. After the 25-day camp in Bangalore Gopichand said he was satisfied with what he had done and he was mentally and physically prepared for Seville.

He added he had no choice but to head for Seville without playing a single tournament after the All-England Championship in March as the World Grand Prix � which he was expecting to play in Brunei � was deferred.

I feel Gopichand would have been better prepared had he played the Japan Open and the Asia Cup in April and May since all the big names he faced in Seville played in these tournaments. Chen Hong, for example, played in both and lost to Polsanna Boonsak of Thailand in the China-Thailand Asia Cup tie. He did play the Sudirman Cup but hardly got the kind of opposition he faced in the world championship.

Had Gopichand played these tournaments, he would have been in better shape. Also, his world ranking could have improved and so also his seeding. Who knows, he may not have run into Hong in the quarters.

Secondly, after the long match against Kevin Han of the US in the second round, Gopichand developed a blister under his left foot. In the third round he defeated Fung Permadi but felt a slight pain. The same night he said the foot was troubling him, but was confident of recovering by morning. However, it grew overnight and was looking serious. Gopichand was very uncomfortable in that match against Hong.

One reason which caused the blister was the heat inside the stadium, almost 38-39 degrees. The long match against Han compounded the problem. Gopichand was the last one to complain but those who saw the medical staff bandaging the affected area before the match could guess the pain he was in.

This proved decisive in the quarter final but there is no denying the fact that Hong played exceedingly well. Still, it would have been a different test had Gopichand been in match practice apart from the physical discomfort.

However, Gopichand has two major events coming up in July � Malaysian Open and Indonesian Open � where he will get another chance to prove that All-England was no flash in the pan.

Memorable outing

The other players did well enough in the Open events to make the Seville outing memorable. Abhin Shyam Gupta lost to the top-seeded R5oslin Hashim 16-17, 5-15 after taking a 9-2 lead against the Malaysian � winner of the Swiss and Japanese Open. Gupta is a feared shuttler on the circuit and he lived up to that billing in the first-round match.

Chetan Anand lost in the last qualifying round, but in three games to Boonsak, who as mentioned earlier, defeated Hong and Taufique Hidayat in the Asia Cup. Chetan, a classy stroke player, had Boonsak on the run at 12-6 in the first game but lost 13-15 and won the second game. A bit of luck here and there and Chetan would have gifted a win to India.

Siddhartha Jain disappointed against Shimugami of Japan in the last round of qualifiers.

In women�s singles, Shruti Kurien and Jwala Gutta failed to go beyond the second round of qualifiers while B.R. Meenakshi ran into a tough Canadian in the final round.

The sole qualifier here was Manjusha Kanwar who unfortunately ran into fourth seed Marina Andrievskaya of Sweden in the first round. True, Abhin Shyam and Manjusha were unlucky to come across top players in the first round but in a world championship, these are problems one should be prepared for.

Hopeful signs in doubles

In doubles V. Diju and Sanave Thomas, juniors till two years back, were playing their first major seniors� event and did well to reach the second round.

The mixed doubles pairs were also impressive. Diju and P.V.V. Lakshmi fought up to 10-11 in the decider against the 11th-ranked pair of Graham Hurrell and Sarah Hardekar.

In fact the main mixed pair of Chetan and Manjusha did very well in the Sudirman Cup to win all matches barring the one against Hong Kong. Their victory over the Canadian Olympic pair of Mike Beres and Kara Solmundson was the highlight of our Sudirman Cup campaign. Ladies doubles was the only event where we didn�t do well.

In Sudirman Cup, our women�s and mixed doubles teams warmed many hearts. The young pair of Jwala and Shruti defeated the 18th-ranked duo of Jo Muggerridge and Felicity Gallup � a creditable feat considering our teenagers were playing their first senior event.

Strange practice

In Sudirman Cup we lost only to Hong Kong because former Indonesian and Chinese players were representing them. Agus Haryanto, Wang Chen (singles), Chen, Wan Tin Ling (women�s doubles) and Njodo (mixed doubles) were their overseas recruits and India would have won had these �badminton mercenaries� not been around.

The IBF has taken note of this and asked its members in the AGM in Seville to consider the Olympic regulation which states a player has to spend three years in his adopted country, obtain citizenship and passport before being able to play for that country.

The Olympic rule will perhaps be implemented and these players will not be allowed to ply their trade in this manner in near future.

An eye on the future

The Indian performance in Seville was heartening but it�s time to see how to improve. First, we have to pay more attention to the paired events. In Bangalore, a beginning of sorts was made but it was not enough. We need regular camps for doubles, something which the BAI is now preparing to do.

Second, there should be more camps so that the players can train together more often. Third, there should be more exposure trips for the new members of the team, especially our doubles players, who should play at least 8-10 events every year.

Players like Abhin Shyam, Chetan, Siddhartha, Manjusha can�t improve their rankings just because they play so few tournaments. This stops them from getting directly into the main draw. They are surely main-event players and must play more circuit events to ensure higher rankings.

Fourthly, the BAI should secure at least two video cameras, to be carried by the chief coach and a member of the team, even on junior trips, so that we can analyse on the spot what we are doing or chalk out plans against our opponents.

Lastly, as Gopichand said in Seville, there should be continuity in selecting coaches for senior events.

Not that the BAI is not trying but it has to be prompt. Seville was just a beginning. India should now seriously aim to win medals in internationals events because we have the players and coaches. All we need now is better planning.


Jamshedpur, June 25: 
Former senior Bihar champion and top seed Pratik Sengupta beat Gyanendra Singh in the ninth round to maintain an all-win record and a full-point lead in The Telegraph School�s Chess Championship here today.

Pratik is followed by Rohan Vijay Shandilya and Abhishek Das with 8 points and Varun Anant (7.5).

Against Gyanendra, who upset fourth seed Satish Kumar in the previous round, Pratik employed French defence and enjoyed positional advantages right from the beginning. The top seed manoeuvred his pieces brilliantly to win the match in 53 moves.

Earlier in the morning, Pratik was involved in a much-hyped battle with second seed Rohan Vijay Shandilya but the latter lost it rather meekly.

Partik with white adopted the advance variation in reply to Rohan�s French defence, refused draw offer on eighth and 20th moves and in the middle game, created a four to two majority on the queen-side and finally, threatened to promote a pawn. Rohan resigned as there was no defence for him after 42 moves.

Rohan, however, was lucky to win against Akash Kusum in the ninth round.

Priya Ratnam, only girl in the fray, defeated Mayank Jaiswal in the four knight�s game. In another match, Abhishek Das bounced back on joint second place by defeating Arin Biswas.


ROUND IX: Pratik Sengupta (9) bt Gyanendra Singh (7), Rohan Vijay Shandilya (8) bt Akash Kusum (7), Abhishek Das (8) bt Arin Biswas (6.5), Varun Anant (7.5) bt C. Vijay Gopal (6.5), Abhishek Biswas (7) drew with Sudipto Dasgupta (7), Satish Kumar (6.5) drew with Himanshu Shekhar Sharma ((7), Anirban Pati (6) lost to Nitesh Kejriwal (7), Saurabh Anand (7) bt Ramesh Kumar (6), Priya Ratnam (7) bt Mayank Jaiswal (6), Kousik Das (6.5) drew with Raja Mukherjee (6.5).

Round VIII: Pratik Sengupta bt Rohan Vijay Shandilya, Mayank Jaiswal lost to Abhishek Das, Gyanendra Singh bt Satish Kumar, Sudipto Dasgupta drew with Varun Anant, Akash Kusum bt Kousik Das, Raja Mukherjee drew with Anirban Pati, Arin Biswas bt Sheekha Unnikrishnan (5.5), Ramesh Kumar drew with Priya Ratnam, Himanshu Shekhar Sharma bt Vikash Kumar Tiwari (5.5), Ankit Kumar Singh lost to C. Vijay Gopal.


Calcutta, June 25: 
Mohammedan AC got past Sporting Union by a Ram Mallick goal in first division group B action today. The match was, however, marred by two red cards with both goalkeepers (Kalyan Lodh and Barun Chatterjee) being sent off.

Barisha SC beat United Student 3-0, Gautam Das (2) and Prashanta Kar being the scorers. Aikya Sammilani and Taltala DS ended 1-1. V. Pariyar struck for Aikya while Chandan Das equalised for Taltala DS.

The Taltala Institute-Calcutta Police match fell through after the Mohammedan Sporting ground was ruled unfit because of long grass.

Easy for South Point

South Point won all their matches in the senior boys and girls sections in the Servo Indian Oil national inter-school regatta at Rabindra Sarobar today. South Point boys beat Calcutta Boys while the girls got past G. D. Birla and Modern High.


Senior boys: Lake View bt La Martiniere; National HS bt Birla High School; St James� bt Islamia High School; Chetla Boys bt St Thomas�; Kalidhan Institution bt Don Bosco, Park Circus.

Junior boys: Cathedral Mission bt Kendriya Vidyalaya, Ballygunge; Cathedral Mission bt Don Bosco, Park Circus; St Thomas bt Calcutta Boys; Lake View bt Julien Day; St Xavier�s bt South Point; Khalsa bt La Martiniere.

Senior girls: Calcutta Girls bt Mahadevi Birla.

Junior girls: Deshbandhu Balika Vidyalaya bt Calcutta Girls; Modern High bt Mahadevi Birla.


Calcutta, June 25: 
The Table Tennis Federation of India�s (TTFI) press conference at SAI today was supposed to be a stage to unveil its plans for its proposed academy in the city. In the end, though, it turned out to be a show of truce between the two bodies which had been at loggerheads till the other day � TTFI and Bengal Table Tennis Association (BTTA).

In presenting BTTA president Somnath Chatterjee to address the media, the TTFI also seemed to clear its path of the obstacles that could hinder its dream project.

The veteran Parliamentarian will personally speak to the state sports minister and the chief minister in procuring land from the government. Chatterjee will also seek the Union sports ministry�s clearance in getting a Yugoslav coach for the academy.

The BTTA has been formally asked to be involved in the project and will hold a meeting on July 5.

TTFI vice president Probir Mitra informed that if everything went according to plan the academy will start functioning from �the middle of next year�. The residential academy is being planned on an area of approximately 15,000 square feet for at least 16 tables to be laid.

Sixty boys and girls in the age-group of nine to 16 years will be divided into three categories � cadet, sub-junior and junior.


Calcutta, June 25: 
Mousumi Pal and Subham Chowdhury emerged women�s and men�s champions at the CCD table tennis meet at Khudiram Anushilan Kendra today.

In the final, Mousumi beat Sayantika Kundu 21-14, 21-13, 22-24, 21-12 while Subham sailed past Amit Das 21-14, 21-15, 21-10.


Cadet boys: Kuntal Basak bt Santasabuj Chakraborty 22-20, 21-12; Cadet girls: Shabana Parvin bt Arjama Ghosh 22-20, 15-21, 21-15; Sub-jr boys: Soumyajit Sarkar bt Abhisek Mukherjee 21-15, 21-16, 21-14; Sub-jr girls: Sweta Modak bt Pallavi Kundu 19-21, 21-16, 22-20, 21-8; Boys: Niloy Basak bt Chiranjib Chowdhury 21-19, 21-13, 21-19; Girls: Anusree Saha bt Runa Roy 21-14, 20-22, 21-18, 21-8.    

Calcutta, June 25: 
The Bengal cricket team will have an outstation coach for the forthcoming Ranji Trophy season. According to CAB president Jagmohan Dalmiya the decision has been initiated to bring more accountability and professionalism into the approach of the cricketers. M.P. Parmar stays CAB�s director of coaching.

Though none has yet been finalised, names of Karsan Ghavri and Madanlal are doing the rounds. Dr Vece Paes will also look after the physical conditioning of the senior side. At the working committee meeting it was also decided to shortlist 25 players and begin coaching from next month.

SAI coaches course

A hundred and twenty-three coaches from 22 states and Union Territories were presented with certificates on completion of their six-week coaching course in six disciplines � boxing, football, kho kho, table tennis, yoga and wushu � at the SAI Eastern Centre today.    

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