Kaif, Harvinder strongly placed
Raman forced to withdraw
Rly FC, CFC in goalless tie
Bhratri unveil Iraqi duo
CAB elections
Race Review/ Cristopher recovered in time

Calcutta, July 30: 
Mohammed Kaif, India’s U-19 World Cup-winning captain, is set for a return to the Test squad. Strongly tipped, too, is quick Harvinder Singh.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, both “should” make the XV for the three-Test series in Sri Lanka, which begins August 14.

The squad will be picked on Thursday, in Mumbai. Apparently, the team management has requested for XVI players, but the Board isn’t in a mood to oblige —- as of now, that is.

Also in contention is veteran Venkatesh Prasad, who wasn’t even among the probables before the start of the season, which kicked off with the series in Zimbabwe.

Middleorder bat Kaif, whose only previous Test cap was during the Bangalore game against South Africa, in March last year, is favoured to make the cut as V.V.S.Laxman’s replacement. Laxman is to undergo surgery.

Harvinder, recently recalled (and, then, dumped once again) for the ODIs, hasn’t played Test cricket since March 1998. His last appearance was versus Australia, again in Bangalore. Harvinder is tipped to take Ashish Nehra’s place.

Nehra, it is learnt, has a groin problem and cannot continue beyond the tri-series which ends August 5.

In recent years, Prasad has been more out of the India squad than in, but fears over Zaheer Khan possibly not surviving the full tour have brought him in the frame.

[It’s purely by way of “precaution” that Zaheer has been advised, by physio Andrew Leipus, to undergo a scan on his right shin.]

Also, not everybody is convinced that Debashish Mohanty, who already is in Sri Lanka, will be the ideal (Test) bowler in conditions there.

Another factor favouring Prasad, at the moment, is that though Ajit Agarkar made it to the tri-series XV as a ODI-specialist, he hasn’t featured in a single match. Logically, then, he must return after the tri-series.

In fact, some of the selectors are openly sceptical about Agarkar’s fitness and even feel the team management, for inexplicable reasons, has been shielding him.

The good news, of course, is that Jawagal Srinath will be back after being rested for the tri-series. The new-ball bowlers should then be Srinath, Zaheer, Prasad and Harvinder.

The other three bowlers will, obviously, all be spinners: The two Singhs, Harbhahjan and Sarandeep, both of whom bowl off-spin, and probably leg-spinner Sairaj Bahutule.

One understands Bahutule is the team management’s choice, but the selectors may instead press for the left-arm Rahul Sanghvi.

On the batting front, openers Shiv Sundar Das and Sadagopan Ramesh will be back, while captain Sourav Ganguly, vice-captain Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Hemang Badani pick themselves.

The seventh slot is set to go Kaif’s way.

Quite sensibly, Sachin’s selection will be provisional —- after all, the proposed date for the next scan (August 10) is well after the selection meeting. Should Sachin’s recovery from a fracture not be good enough, Dinesh Mongia could be picked in a stand-in capacity.

Contacted in Mumbai this afternoon, Sachin, speaking exclusively, had this to say: “Actually, I can only make a definite comment once I’ve had another sitting with the doctors. Honestly, I can’t say anything else.”

Incidentally, Sachin is consulting a couple of other specialists besides Dr Anant Joshi, the all-season favourite of the cricketers.

To get back to the India squad, the XVth member will be wicketkeeper Samir Dighe.


(As of Monday evening)

Batsmen: Sourav Ganguly (captain), Rahul Dravid (vice-captain), Sachin Tendulkar/Dinesh Mongia, Shiv Sundar Das, Sadagopan Ramesh, Hemang Badani, Mohammed Kaif.

Bowlers: Jawagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Harvinder Singh, Venkatesh Prasad, Harbhajan Singh, Sarandeep Singh, Sairaj Bahutule.

Wicketkeeper: Samir Dighe.

Dark Horse: Debashish Mohanty.


Calcutta, July 30: 
A tragedy in the Raman family robbed the Servo national ranking table tennis championships (East) of a top gun today. Former national champion S. Raman, who was seeded third in men’s singles beginning tomorrow, was due to fly in today. Last night, however, news came through that his elder brother had been killed in a road accident in Michigan.

Raman’s wife B. Bhuvaneshwari, who arrived this morning, has rushed back to Chennai where the 35-year-old General Motors engineer’s body will be flown in. Raman’s absence pushes Shibaji Datta, Ranabir Das, Chetan Baboor, Sourav Chakraborty and Bhushan Thakur a spot up in the seedings list.

Baboor cautious

Baboor will open his campaign against Rajasthan’s Tarun Varma. Making an appearance in the city after seven years, Baboor sounded cautious about the modified ITTF rules which will be applied for the first time in this country at this meet.

“The 11-point games in the best-of-seven format could lead to some more upsets,” he said this evening. “Players will take some time to adjust.” As for the bigger balls (of 40 mm diameter) to be used, Baboor felt there would be more rallies which, also, “will take some adjusting.”

The biggest name in Indian table tennis for the past four-five years, Baboor is only No. 6 in the domestic hierarchy — simply because he hasn’t been playing too many tournaments at home. “Last year, I played just one of the zonal meets but this time I plan to compete in more of them to pick some ranking points,” Baboor revealed.

In the sub-junior girls’ event which got underway today, Siliguri girl Triparna Biswas scalped fourth seed U.V. Agni of Tamil Nadu 4-1 en route to the quarter finals.

RESULTS — Sub-junior girls’ (pre-quarters): Salankara Mahalanobis (Ben) bt Sanjama Sharma (Asm) 11-7, 11-7, 11-9, 11-6; Neha Agarwal (Dli) bt Arpita Banerjee (Ben) 11-7, 11-2, 5-11, 7-11, 11-7; Sweta Modak (Ben) bt Nabanita Bose (Ben) 6-11, 8-11, 8-11, 20-18, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9; Triparna Biswas (Ben) bt U.V. Agni (TN) 10-12, 11-6, 11-7, 11-6, 11-4; Suparna Bose (Ben) Soumi Mondal (Ben) 11-3, 11-8, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7; Susmita Pal (Ben) bt S. Nirupama (TN) 7-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6, 11-5; Sikha Sharma (Dli) bt Sabana Parvin (Ben) 11-7, 10-12, 11-2, 11-4, 11-6; Pallabi Kundu (Ben) bt Susmita Pal (Ben) 11-4, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5, 11-4.


Calcutta, July 30: 
Railway FC drew goalless with CFC in the day’s lone senior division group A match today. In group B, Milan Samity beat Bowbazar YMU 3-1. The match at East Bengal ground — between Behala Youth and Garalgacha SC — was a non-starter as the markings had been erased by rain.

Mirzapur Union, Measurers Club, YMCA (Coll.) and Beleghata Friends Union booked berths in next season’s fourth division league after winning their fifth division quarter final play-off ties.

Results: Mirzapur bt Hrishikesh Park 3-0; Measurers Club bt Prabasi Utkal 1-0; YMCA (Col.) bt Bagmari 2-0; Beleghata Friends Union bt Ballygunge Inst. 1-0.    

Calcutta, July 30: 
Bhratri Sangha today ‘unveiled’ their Iraqi duo Ahmed Hussain Dikash and Safaa Abdul Hakim Ahmed at a meet-the-press function this afternoon.

Both 22-year-old Dikash and 29-year-old Safaa featured in Iraq’s pre-Olympic team last year. While Dikash is a libero who has been playing for second-placed Iraqi side Talaba Club, Safaa is a medio donning No. 3 club Air Force.


Calcutta, July 30: 
The ruling group swept to power at the CAB elections this evening. Bablu Koley and Sudhir Chakraborty were elected as joint-secretaries, beating Samar Pal. While Koley and Chakraborty polled 95 and 66 votes, Pal had 49. This is the fourth consecutive year that Pal has lost out in the race for secretaryship.

The four successful candidates for vice-presidents’ posts were Debabrata Bhattacharya (90 votes), Dipal Chowdhury (92), Ambika Banerjee (84) and Amulya Ratan Saha (82). Opposition’s Barid Baran Sarkar got 49. Incumbents Jagmohan Dalmiya and Amitava Banerjee were elected unopposed as president and treasurer.


Jockey Cristopher Alford was the focus of attention right through the afternoon of July 25. It was a stewards’ inquiry — ordered into the running and riding of his failed hot-favourite Aiberni in the first race — which necessitated scanning of his activities for rest of the day. A repeat blunder on another course-favourite Arendal in the following event built up further tension as some turfites in the grandstand chose to give vent to their feelings during the paddock parades.

The champion jockey remained luckless, even though his third ride in the card, Scavenger’s Son, got all the assistance in the saddle only to find the opposition far too strong for him to do anything worthwhile. Lady luck, however, smiled on him in the latter half of the six-event card.

It was Ascoril’s victory in the Mountain Lily Handicap that may have instilled the lost confidence in his riding ability. The jockey, latter in the evening, is learnt to have admitted during the stewards’ inquiry that he rode an over-confident race on Aiberni and hence the loss. Kept a way back third, the half-money favourite from Bharath Singh’s yard was left to do plenty as a lesser-fancied Anokato produced a businesslike start-to-finish victory.

Cristopher had to fight every inch of the ground to win the last two events — the An Apple A Day Cup and the Pickwick Handicap. In the trophy event, it was the last outing runaway winner Russian Czar who threatened to take over from where he had left off in the lower class. But a sustained effort on Ashbury, an impressive second in previous outing, helped Cristopher get the measure of Rutherford Alford’s ride in the final 200m. The cousins were a treat to watch as none of the two erred in the pressure-situation.

Cristopher on Aherlow, a costly failure on Day One of the season, went to the start as a virtual joint favourite with Bird’s Empire. But threat to the 7-4 favourite came from As A Rule — a quietly backed last season’s Mumbai-import. In fact, the race may have produced a different result had jockey Som Singh not cut an erratic course, and also not sent Bird’s Empire out of contention squeezing the Daniel David-traine in between himself and Aherlow. Yet, a thrilling finish it was because only a neck separated the winner and As A Rule.

Arendal’s defeat in the afternoon’s feature did not look like a manoeuvred one. The announcement of the inquiry had, perhaps, shaken up the jockey’s confidence, therefore he deserves the benefit of doubt. Cristopher had Arendal settled in fifth, that being the normal style of trainer Vijay Singh’s five-year-old gelding. But it was at the home-turn where the seasoned jockey faltered. He took the turn 12-wide thus leaving the Placerville-So Smitten son much to do in close finish. His margin of defeat being less than a length, it was hard to digest Alyssum as a worthy winner of the race. Clarice Cliff, under the circumstances, was a fair second and may pick up a race in coming weeks.

Known to pick up winners at lucrative odds, jockey Robert Gowli found the opportunity coming his way in the 1,800m Camlin Handicap. Declared to assist Javed Khan’s Flying Scot, the crafty rider managed to outdo the better handicapped horses like Nearco Prince and Scavenger’s Son.


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