Gaekwad goes in for legal opinion
Manipur boy favourite for Guwahati crown
East emerge champions
Bijen among probables

Calcutta, July 2: 
Aunshuman Gaekwad, who had two stints as India�s cricket coach, is seeking �legal opinion� to proceed against a largely sensation-creating weekly which (in its latest issue) has quoted him as alleging that the national players regularly used steroids and cortisones to enhance performance.

Speaking from his Vadodara residence late this evening, an absolutely livid Gaekwad told The Telegraph: �I saw the issue early in the evening, when I was finishing a game of badminton, and straightaway met my lawyers. I will have another meeting tomorrow and intend serving a notice within 24 hours itself.�

Gaekwad, whose first term as coach ended in October 1999, had returned to the post after Kapil Dev�s resignation last September. That, of course, was only a stopgap arrangement till John Wright took charge.

According to Gaekwad, he spoke to the weekly only after laying his cards on the table � which was that �nothing should be twisted or, in any way, distorted.� Yet, Gaekwad insists that is precisely what has been done.

�All along I generally talked about energy-replacement drinks which, in any case, are taken on the field in full public view. At no point did I mention the use of performance-enhancing drugs. In fact, at one point in the so-called interview, they have rightly quoted me as saying the players �have become health conscious�. Then, how could I also have spoken about an unhealthy practice?�

Gaekwad added: �Actually, even when the reporter asked about the composition of the energy-replacement drinks, I clearly said this question should be addressed to the team�s physio (Andrew Leipus), as the drinks have been procured from overseas...�

The weekly has gone to the extent of linking Sachin Tendulkar to drugs! For, it has attributed the following to Gaekwad: �There has to be a level-playing field. Like Sachin is definitely talented, but that extra dose of steroid helps him hit the ball with greater punch. So, if you inject Sachin with muscle-strengthening drugs, then it�s not fair.�

This, to say the least, has left Gaekwad aghast. �The last thing I would want is for Sachin and the team, currently in Zimbabwe, to get upset with an interview where I�ve been misquoted wholesale... I�m very, very distressed. Surely, if something was amiss, wouldn�t I have informed the Board?�

Asked whether he would send a clarification to the team, Gaekwad responded by saying: �That may give the impression I�m guilty and am trying to make amends... First, let me sort the weekly out.�

Gaekwad obviously isn�t in the same bracket as some of the cricketers who, not too long ago, felt aggrieved with the same weekly but still did nothing about it.

It�s significant that Gaekwad has always been regarded as a thorough gentleman who, publicly, stood by his players.


Guwahati, July 2: 
Gurumayum Inao Sharma of Manipur, runner-up at the Guwahati leg of The Telegraph Schools� Chess Championship last year, is hot favourite to clinch the title this time.

The meet starts at the ABITA Indoor Stadium here tomorrow. The prize distribution ceremony is slated for Sunday.

Gurumayum�s main challenge will come from Guwahati�s N. Shashank Singh and Manipur�s Raju Loukrakram, who had finished fifth and sixth at the inaugural edition of the tournament here in 2000.

Other youngsters to watch out for in the nine-round Swiss League competition are state sub-junior champion Malabika Singh, Nandan Buragohain, Trailokya Nanda and Abhinav Barua.

National sub-junior champion Rajib Dey of Guwahati could not enter the tournament as he is playing in the National B championship at Nagpur. Rajib, however, is expected to be granted a wild card entry to the Calcutta finals.

According to All Assam Chess Association general secretary M. Pradeep Singh, the entries rose to 120 today following three more names from Guwahati and one from Tripura. More players are expected as entries close at the venue tomorrow noon only.

The number could have been much higher already had entries from several districts not backed out citing exams.

A suggestion to have all entries routed directly to the state association, rather than through the district affiliates, is likely to be implemented from next year.

The top five players from the Guwahati leg will qualify for the Calcutta finals to be held sometime this month-end. The top five from the Bhubaneswar and Jamshedpur legs have already booked berths for the finals.

Apart from the five top-finishers of the three different editions outside Calcutta, the finals will feature players from Bengal. Players will be eligible for Fide points.


Calcutta, July 2: 
East Zone Cricket Academy (EZCA) emerged champions in the inter-zonal meet for the Col Hemu Adhikari Trophy.

According to information received here, EZCA beat West Zone Academy by eight wickets in the final in Bangalore today.

Batting first, West were bundled out for 101 in 35 overs, Niranjan Behara (four for 15) being the chief wrecker.

In reply, East rode Ritesh Jaiswal�s unbeaten 60 to reach the target in 26 overs.

BRIEF SCORES: West Zone 101 in 35 ovs (Niranjan Behara 4/15, Tushar Saha 2/10). East Zone 102/2 in 26 ovs (Ritesh Jaiswal 60 n.o.). East won by 8 wkts.

5 from East chosen

Five players from EZCA � Mihir Diwakar (Bihar), Ritesh Jaiswal (Bengal), Vignesh Mohanty, Niranjan Behera and Rakesh Mohanty (all Orissa) � have been included in the Combined Zonal Academy side that will take on the National Cricket Academy XI in a match tomorrow.

Anirban, Nandita best

Anirban Nandy and Nandita Saha won the men�s and women�s titles, respectively in the Cossimbazar table tennis meet in Siliguri today, according to information received here.

RESULTS (all finals)

Nursery girls: Medha Moitra bt Shreya Ghosh 21-18, 21-11. Nursery boys: Soumyajit Ghosh bt Priyabrata das 31-29, 21-11. Cadet girls: Sharmila Thakur 21-8, 21-11. Cadet boys: Santasabuj Chakraborty bt Kuntal Basak 21-19, 21-18. Sub-jr girls: Sukanya Bose bt Salankara Mahalanabish 21-8, 21-14, 21-17. Sub-jr boys: Amarnath Das bt Avisekh Mukherjee 15-21, 21-14, 21-17. Girls: Anushree Saha bt Soumi Mondal 21-15, 16-21, 22-20, 21-19. Boys: Subhadip Das bt Snehasis Bhattacharjee 21-13, 21-17, 21-19. Women: Nandita Saha bt Manisha Chakraborty 21-12, 21-9, 21-17. Men: Anirban Nandy bt Amit Das 21-17, 21-11, 18-21, 21-18.


Calcutta, July 2: 
Bijen Singh has been included among the 25 probables for India�s tour of England. R.C. Prakash is a notable absentee. The preparatory camp will be held in Patiala from July 9-17.

THE PROBABLES � Virender Singh, Sangram Mukherjee, N. Balaji Rao, K. B. Dhanesh, Mahesh Gawli, Dipak Mondal, Roberto Fernandez, N. Suresh, Sur Kumar Singh, Daljit Singh, Jules Alberto, Hardip Singh Sangha, Basudeb Mondal, Khalid Jameel, Dipankar Roy, Renedy Singh, R.P. Singh, Abdul Hakeem, I.M. Vijayan, Joe Pal Ancheri, Alvito D�Counha, Hardip Gill, Md Nazir, Bijen Singh and Bhaichung Bhutia.

Bally Protiva win

Bally Protiva blanked Sporting Union 3-0 in the first division group B tie of the Calcutta Football League today. Pradip Mallick, Basudeb Santra and Bappa Mukherjee were the scorers.

Talatala DS beat Bowbazar YM Union 2-0 via Gautam Douri and T. Saha. Calcutta Police overcame Taltala Institute 2-1. Sanjoy Das and Biswajit Biswas struck for the policemen while Sanjoy Das of Taltala pulled one back. T. Saha�s own goal helped Behala Youth draw 1-1 against Aikya Sammilani. A. Sarbagya scored for Aikya.


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