Captain�s notes strike right chord in Zimbabwe
Chiranjit Saha is sole leader
Clearance likely on Monday
Calcutta Cup begins today
Kotrang swamp Don Bosco
Bangalore Racing/ Soviet Song fancied

Calcutta, July 6: 
In a precedent-setting move aimed at going beyond the customary pep talks, Sourav Ganguly presented hand-written notes to every team member on arrival in Zimbabwe.

Each, of course, had the captain�s signature.

That was in the last week of May, ahead even of the two first-class fixtures which preceded the two-Test series and the tri-series which concludes tomorrow.

Not surprisingly, two notes � the one for himself and the one to Sachin Tendulkar � were kept brief.

Well, what did the notes contain?

�I kept both simple. To Sachin, I said he�s got to fire if we have to win... Basically, I just reinforced that he�s the main strength of our team... In the other note, I told myself to keep cool even if the ball wasn�t rolling our way,� Sourav told The Telegraph this morning.

Speaking from the team hotel (Crowne Plaza) in Harare, before leaving for the 11 am workout, Sourav laughed and added: �Actually, I also told myself to get some runs!�

The captain failed in the Tests, but regained form in the tri-series, while Sachin got fifties in each of the two Tests and takes to the tri-series final with a stupendous average of 282.00.

In the one-day context the notes, then, definitely worked. But, as Sourav pointed out, the good work thus far will �only� be remembered once the final too is won.

�We made two finals, at the start of last season, and lost both. The Nairobi defeat (in the ICC KnockOut, to New Zealand) was a shame and disappointing was that loss in Sharjah (to Sri Lanka). Now, we have the chance to make amends somewhat...�

Sourav acknowledged his team was rather low on morale after the Harare Test defeat (inside four days), but added it wasn�t exactly difficult to keep the boys motivated.

�Yes, we drew a (Test) series which we should have won. At the same time, this tri-series came as an opportunity to regain confidence and take to the heavy engagements, in the months to follow, in a nice frame of mind.�

Did he have to handle Debashish Mohanty (overlooked for much of the tour), for example, more �sensitively�?

�Frankly, I told Debu early on the tour itself, that he would get his chance in the tri-series. In fact, he himself realised that and was mentally prepared for the ODIs... And, when he did play (in the third match), I just asked him to bowl to his strength � landing the ball on the right spot. I cautioned against trying anything different. It worked.�

[Mohanty�s first outing in almost a year-and-half, versus the West Indies in Bulawayo last week, saw him register superb figures of 10-1-18-3. More important, that straightaway confirmed a finals� slot for him.]

Sachin�s dominating run, useful contributions from Dravid (MoM in the only game when the award didn�t go to Sachin) and himself and �incisive� bowling, in Sourav�s opinion, are factors which have helped India to a handsome all-win record in the league stage.

Surely, there must nevertheless be some apprehension about the law of averages?

Sourav�s response was quick: �But why should we even think about it? Bottomline is playing good cricket and, when that�s achieved, everything falls into place. If I may add, today, we are in the most positive mould.�

Incidentally, India�s last success in a tournament featuring at least three teams was back in November 1998, during a tri-series in Sharjah. Since then, the Indians have gone without a title-win in 11 tournaments (where at least three teams competed).

It�s been quite a drought, though coach John Wright (like the captain) is confident it should end tomorrow evening.

�Without getting emotional about the whole thing, I can say we�ve been playing good cricket and such cricket always gets rewarded,� remarked Wright, again speaking exclusively from the team hotel.

More than the batting, Wright made special mention of the team�s �excellent bowling and fielding.� However, he did talk about Sachin.

�Sachin has been doing most of the work for us but, hopefully, somebody else too will come good in a big way in the final... Remember, it�s now a one-off match.�

Wright added: �One of our strengths has been that we�ve stuck to plans and the execution hasn�t faltered. Also, Sourav has been hungry for the kill...�

The Indians, though, haven�t set a target in any of the four league games and, should they have to bat first tomorrow, the juice in the Harare Sports Club wicket may initially have a real bitter tang.

To neutralise that, the coach�s advice is simple: �Play out the first ten overs.�

Postscript: Sourav�s return to form, in the tri-series, has coincided with an unusual problem: As the teams have been staying in the same hotel --- be it in Bulawayo or Harare � he has ended up receiving many calls intended for the West Indies� Darren Ganga. But, then, some calls for �Mr Ganguly� have, instead, been going to the equally flummoxed Ganga � one, in fact, was from this correspondent...


Guwahati, July 6: 
Agartala�s Umakanta Academy�s Chiranjit Saha staved off the challenge of Imphal�s Kairang Primary School�s Khumukcham Sanjoy Singh to emerge sole leader after the seventh round of The Telegraph Schools� Chess Championship at the ABITA indoor stadium here today.

Chiranjit has six-and-a-half points. Half-a-point behind Chiranjit are four players � Khumukcham, Sashank Singh of Nichol�s High School, Guwahati, Trailokya Nanda of Edith Douglas High School, Jorhat and Aheibam Taibanganba of Exellency English School, Imphal.

Three players � Gurumayum Inao Sharma of MKSMT High School, Imphal, Nandan Buragohain of Nazira Higher Secondary School, Sibsagar and Nameirakpam Scientist of Thambaljao High School, Imphal � are tied at third spot with five-and-a-half points.

Playing white, Khumukcham tried to set up his favourite Stonewall pattern against Chiranjit who deviated from the move orders in the opening for an early king pawn thrust in the centre. Black stunned white with a tactical bishop sacrifice for a pawn on the 13th move. Chiranjit not only made up his piece loss but also gained two more pawns in the ensuing skirmishes.

Once the queens were traded off, the Manipur boy did not know what to do in a cramped position with only rooks and pawns left and simply played into the hands of his experienced opponent.

Trailokya outplayed Raju Loukrakpam of Thambaljao High School, Imphal in 42 moves of the advance variation of the French defence, whereas Taibanganba defeated Sibananda Singha of Banskandi High School, Silchar in 32 moves of the popular Ruy Lopez opening.


Khumukcham Sanjoy Singh (6 pts) lost to Chiranjit Saha (6.5); Twinkle Daulaguphu (5) lost to Sashank Singh (6); Raju Loukrakpam (5) lost to Trailokya Nanda (6); Aheibam Taibanganba (6) beat Sibananda Singha (5); Gurumayum Inao Sharma (5.5) beat Swaraj Buragohain (5); Malabika Singh (4.5) lost to Nandan Buragohain (5.5); Meghnath Rabha (5) drew with Abhinave Baruah (5); Ranjan Talukdar (5) drew with Manash Pratim Hazarika (5); Nameirakpam Scientist (5.5) beat Rustom Raktim Dutta (4); Nirmaljyoti Sarmah (5) beat Jaising Engleng (4); Omeshore Lairngam(5) beat Tibraraj Baruah (4); Shakespeare Lairengjam (4) lost to Manoj Patar (5) and Punit Rajmohan (5) beat Ashok Tanti (4)..    

Calcutta, July 6: 
The impasse over the galleries in the three enclosed grounds on the Maidan is likely to be resolved for the time being. The CPWD clearance is likely to be given Monday. This follows a round of inspection today by the police, CPWD and IFA officials.

According to a senior IFA functionary, East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Aryan membership galleries have been given clearance for 75 percent occupancy. For Mohammedan Sporting, this figure has been fixed at 2,200.

Seven thousand fans can watch from the stands earmarked for the general public at the Mohun Bagan ground while for East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting grounds it is 8,000 and 6,500, respectively.

Mohun Bagan register 22

Twenty two players registered their names in favour of Mohun Bagan at the IFA office today. R. C. Prakash, Rajat Ghosh Dastidar, Kajal Bhattacharjee, Amar Ganguly, Gautam Ghosh, Jayanta Sen, Sumit Sengupta, Jose Ramirez Barreto, Debjit Ghosh, James Singh, Dulal Biswas, Bivash Ghosh, Hussain Mustafi and Basudeb Mondal withdrew in favour of Bagan.

The players who joined Bagan include Bhabani Mohanty and Prashanta Dora from Tollygunge Agragami, Palash Ghosh and Amjad Ansari from Mohammedan Sporting, Ajay Singh and Uday Konar from Churchill Brothers, Rishi Kapoor from ITI and Dipankar Chatterjee from George Telegraph.

East Bengal also withdrew Dipak Mondal and signed in Shankarlal Chakraborty from Tollygunge Agragami.

Goalless ties

It was a day of goalless ties in first division group A action on the Maidan today. Three matches ended barren ---- Kalighat-City AC, Kidderpore-Rajasthan and Aryan-Calcutta Customs. WB Police beat Ever Ready by a solitary goal today.    

Calcutta, July 6: 
The Calcutta Cup, the city rugby season�s big ticket fixture, starts at the CC&FC tomorrow. The meet will also ring the curtain down on the season. Calcutta teams then travel to Mumbai for another meet.

Six teams � CC&FC, LMOB, Calcutta Police, Seargeants� Institute, Young Rugby Club and Future Hope � are taking part in this round-robin league. The top two teams face off in the final.

LMOB are the regining champions, but they do not make the same team this time, what with most of their top players having moved over to CC&FC. That makes the host team the favourites. Matches � two a day � will be played each Saturday.

The finals will come off on September 1.

Kalra wins qualifier

Sheeraz Kalra put together eight rounds of consistent golf to emerge triumphant by a convincing five stroke margin at the qualifying school event of the Indian PGA Tour played over the par-71 Poona Club course in Pune. According to information received here Kalra, tallied a four-under 280.

India�s top-ranked amateur, Calcutta-based Rahil Gangjee, had to content himself with a second place finish despite a final round effort of two-under 69.

Gangjee, one-over 285, was followed by Bangalore�s C Muniyappa, who was seven strokes behind at eight-over 292. At tied fourth place were Delhi�s Gast Ram and Kanpur�s DK Verma at nine-over 293.


Calcutta, July 6: 
Don Bosco, Park Circus lost 0-3 to defending champions Kotrang Bhupendra Smriti School in the Patterson Memorial inter-school table tennis meet today.


Chiranjib Chowdhury bt Bibhur Das Mundhra 21-9, 21-6; Avishek Karmakar bt Arindam Saha 21-13, 21-15; Chiranjib Chowdhury & Avishek Karmakar bt Rohit Jalal & Kushal Chaukhani 21-8, 21-6.

Schools� bowling

Eight schools � La Martiniere for Boys, Ashok Hall, Don Bosco, Birla High School, Assembly of God Church, Laxmipat Singhania School, St Thomas and Saifee Hall � will participate in the first invitational inter-school bowling meet at the Flight 10 bowling alley from Monday. The finals are on July 22.

Competition will be held in four categories � senior and junior boys and senior and junior girls.

Till the semi-finals, all matches will be played on a league basis.


Bangalore, July 6: 
Soviet Song, who badly needed her last run, is strongly fancied to win the 1,200m H. B. Gundappa Gowda Memorial Cup, tomorrow�s main event. Choksey Ruzaan partners the Darius Byramji-trained four-year-old filly by Bold Russian out of Palace Music.


2 pm: Forest Emperor 1. Treat 2. Splendid Ally 3.
2.30 pm: Tapatio 1. Trillenniium 2. Diamond Rock 3.
3 pm: Zidane 1. Aide de Memoire 2. My Treasure 3.
3.30 pm: Annodomini 1. Three Coins 2. Kisunugntly 3.
4 pm: Soviet Song 1. Bountiful Gesture 2. Sensational News 3.
4.30 pm: Appleby 1. Argyle Gold 2. Star Splendour 3.
5 pm: Blue Gardenia 1. Lucifer 2. Campanero 3.
5.30 pm: Ambermatic 1. Danzor 2. Tina�s Tune 3.

Day�s Best: Soviet Song

Double: Zidane & Blue Gardenia.

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