�Hidden hand� behind axe
Cricket unites guns and roses
James does it for Bagan
First half was the key: Subrata
Xu Jun leads, Thipsay joint third
Yusu fends title drought
Indians arrive in Galle
Pune Races/ Communicator may come good
Pune Races/ Kraft posts upset win
Calcutta Races/ Alegria, Alcalde impress

Colombo, Aug. 11: 
An injury is keeping top gun Sachin Tendulkar out of the three-Test series beginning Tuesday, but in senior pro Aravinda De Silva�s case, a �hidden hand� seems to be responsible.

A veteran of 89 Tests (5,952 runs at an average of 41-plus with 19 centuries), Aravinda was named in the pre-season probables� pool but ignored during the recent tri-series and, now, doesn�t figure in the 16-man squad for the first Test, in Galle.

The Sri Lankan selectors (chairman T.B.Kehalgamuwa, Brendon Kuruppu, Amal Silva, K.M. Nelson and Kapila Wijegunawardene) have, of course, recalled left-handed Hashan Tillekaratne after a long lay-off but obviously thought little of Aravinda�s experience (and performances against India).

According to The Telegraph�s sources, the �hidden hand� is probably that of captain Sanath Jayasuriya. No one is talking about it openly, but it�s inconceivable that Jayasuriya alone can be held responsible for Aravinda�s exclusion. Apparently, coach Dav Whatmore�s views are different from the captain�s.

Aravinda, however, has taken his omission stoically.

Speaking exclusively this afternoon, he said: �On the one hand, it is disappointing. At the same time, I�m not shocked because I had this feeling I may not be there. As I�ve been off cricket for some time, I was hoping to first get a call for the Board XI match... When I didn�t hear from the people who matter, I told myself I may not be picked.�

Asked about his future, the 36-year-old Aravinda answered, laughing: �Look, right now, I can�t say anything for sure... In time to come, though, I will review my position... Let�s see how things go.� Incidentally, he is no longer on contract with the Board.

Aravinda wasn�t picked for the ODIs after the games in New Zealand, but did play Sri Lanka�s last Test series � versus England, at home, earlier this year. He scored a century in the first Test (Galle), helping Sri Lanka beat England by an innings. Aravinda had modest contributions in the remaining two Tests � both won by England � and ended with a decent average of 39.40.

Jayasuriya, by the way, averaged 18.20.

Tillekaratne, one learns, has been rewarded for being �consistent� in domestic cricket. That he has the reputation of being solid, also helped. The selectors have rewarded left-handed opener Michael van Dort, for a strokeful 116 against India the other day. However, it is to be seen whether he will be capped in Galle.

Sri Lanka A captain Tilan Samaraweera is the only other uncapped player. He has been preferred over Kumara Dharmasena.

Not surprisingly, the selectors have packed the squad with five quicks: Chaminda Vaas, the very impressive Dilhara Fernando, Suresh Perera, Ruchira Perera and veteran Dulip Liyanage. Vaas and Fernando are certainties, while the third slot is up for grabs.

What is a bit surprising, though, is that two wicketkeepers have been shortlisted: Romesh Kaluwitharana and Kumar Sangakkara. The Sri Lankans leave for Galle tomorrow morning; the Indians left today itself.


Sanath Jayasuriya, Maravan Atapattu, Avishka Gunawardane, Michael van Dort, Mahela Jayawardene, Russell Arnold, Hashan Tillekaratne, Kumar Sangakkara, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Muttiah Muralidharan, Tilan Samaraweera, Chaminda Vaas, Dilhara Fernando, Suresh Perera, Ruchira Perera and Dulip Liyanage.


Colombo, Aug. 11: 
Artistically engraved above the brass plaque announcing the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL) office, at the verdant Maitland Place, is this inscription: �Behind every successful team is a Nation.�

Well, many here would add: �It�s a successful team which gives the Nation an identity.�

Clearly, cricket isn�t only a sport in these parts and the islanders look to cricket to help them overcome the trauma of being a nation which has seen continuous bloodshed for two decades.

This, to a large extent, explains the frenzied celebrations at the Premadasa Stadium (and elsewhere) when Sri Lanka thrashed India in last Sunday�s tri-series final.

For just about everyone, it wasn�t an ordinary match: The Sanath Jayasuriya-led team�s success gave the island the first positive headlines after last month�s suicide squad-triggered mayhem at the Bandaranaike international airport and the adjoining Katunayake air base.

Similar sentiments, though obviously in a much more pronounced manner, had taken centrestage after Sri Lanka�s fantastic World Cup win in 1996. Two months before the island�s biggest moment had come that murderous blast in the heart of this capital city which reduced the central bank complex, in particular, to rubble.

So, while rugby has quite a following and quality sprinters keep surfacing, it�s cricket which continues to bring the biggest joy. Equally, the �devastation� caused by defeats is unimaginable. Conversations The Telegraph had with a cross-section of the people, both last evening and this morning, confirmed that.

Expectedly, the July 24 attack at the airport and air base, which is around 30 kms from the city centre, has raised the security-level many notches. In fact, increased security is what catches your attention as soon as you deplane: With machine-gun ready is a bullet-proof jacket-wearing soldier positioned in a pit just metres from the parking bay.

Depending on how you look at it, the machine-gun-welcome can either be comforting or disconcerting. And, once inside the neat but small terminal building, a clutch of AK-56s are on view, all in the hands of soldiers probably just out of their teens.

Security in the vicinity of the airport is also now more intimidating. An addition being an extra checkpoint and the construction of pillboxes, manned by soldiers, every 100 yards or so just off the railway line (parallel to the road) which skirts the air-port.

Actually, pillboxes have emerged all over the city and the police are making more random checks. Colombo is somewhat under siege and far from normal. Badly hit, of course, has been the tourism industry � a traditional moneyspinner for Sri Lanka � and there have been cancellations across the island. Some airlines have even put regular flights on hold.

All this despite a signed appeal, assuring security and hospitality, to all prospective visitors from the chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourist Board. Despite the numerous �postcard� clips regularly telecast during the recent tri-series, too.

The Sri Lankans, however, are hopeful. Of better times, of less AK-56s, of fewer pillboxes. And, yes, also hopeful of a smashing victory over India in the three-Test series beginning Tuesday in Galle.


Calcutta, Aug. 11: 
Mohun Bagan 1
East Bengal 0

An afternoon of dull soccer, and an opportunistic second half strike by substitute James Singh. That sort of settled the Calcutta Football League�s Super Division leaders at the Salt Lake Stadium today.

Mohun Bagan are the undisputed leaders now, three points clear of nearest rivals Bhratri Sangha (18 points) and seven wholesome points ahead of East Bengal.

The �Derby� match, as it was billed, turned out insipid. The stands were choc-a-bloc, after a long time, full of arrivals from way across the horizons and East Bengal had everything to play for.

That should have been incentive enough, and it was not as if East Bengal did not try. But there was this lack of understanding in the attack line, and then when the woodwork was there to whip in, there were misses. Talking of misses, Dipendu Biswas has made an interesting habit of it, as interesting as can comprise a �house of horrors�. Today he added more to his collection.

And I.M. Vijayan, English sojourn and all that incorporated, made for a rather pathetic passenger. At least East Bengal�s new Tanzanian recruit, Ally Amayay Tembele, did promise some decent soccer in the days to come. There could have been no argument for ground condition, which was not too good, because of a strong, smart shower just before the match.

The Dipendu misses

East Bengal dominated the first half, and should have gone ahead easily had Dipendu not shot over from close in the 12th minute. He had been fed from the left by Vijayan on one of the latter�s few positive moves.

In the 30th minute Ally slid up quickly and set Dipankar Roy up who squared across the goalmouth. Dipendu was required to get a touch for the goal. He failed.

That�s when Jo Paul Ancheri was pulled out for Anit Ghosh. Ancheri is a laggard now, his injury has failed to heal, it seems, and he is a liability on the team.

East Bengal missed another chance, too, when Vijayan outstepped a free-kick out, from inside the box. This crazy free-kick was availed of when Mohun Bagan�s Rennedy Singh backpassed to Bivash Ghosh in the box and the goalkeeper collected.

Mohun Bagn looked a refreshed side after the change of ends. There, obviously was some hard talking in the deressing room. Their first half was sad, and one was not forgetting the third minute Jackson Egygopong shot from the top of the Bagan defensive third that had rolled in unattended through the line of defenders till Bivash Ghosh collected.

In the 55th minute there was this ugly scene in the Mohun Bagan defence zone, with Hussain Mustafi, Barreto, Dipendu, Bivash and more involved in a rough-up and semi-fisticuffs. It was a crude way of expressing oneself, and as referee Arup Chakraborty picked up his yellow card that had gone flying in the chaos, one expected a few more bookings. He did none.

Play was cooling off rapidly, dwindling towards a draw, when, in the 61st minute, Basudeb Mondal was up the left in a sudden counterattack. Mondal forwarded to Rennedy, who chipped to the goalmouth. James quickly chested it down and shot home. Ratan Singh was ahead, but failed to intercept.

East Bengal came back with all the pressure tactics, but it was late by then. The issue had been decided.


MOHUN BAGAN: Bivash Ghosh, Dulal iswas, Amouri Da�Silva, Hussain Mustafi, Rishi Kapoor, Basudeb Mondal (Ajoy Singh, 84), Debjit Ghos, Renedy Singh, Jose Ramirez Barreto, R.C. Prakash (Hjames Singh, 46), Abdulateef Seriki.

EAST BENGAL: Sangram Mukherjee, Falguni Dutta, Dipak Mondal, Jackson Egygopong, Ratan Singh, Awoemi Isiaka (Dipak Das, 66), Ally Mayay Tembele, Jo Paul Ancheri (Anit Ghosh, 34), Dipankar Roy (Amit Das, 68), Dipendu Biswas, I.M. Vijayan.

Referee: Arup Chakraborty


Calcutta, Aug. 11: 
Mohun Bagan coach Subrata Bhattacharya came off the many congratulations that landed in his lap for his wards today beating East Bengal 1-0 in their CFL Super Division tie at the Salt Lake Stadium. He said he was confident of �not losing� once his wards were able to see off the first half.

�They (East Bengal) surely played better in the first half,� said Subrata, �but we caught up after change of ends and it was a good goal to score anyway.� He said the backpass incident was a �mistake�. �It was not an intentional backpass,� he said, �hence the penalty should not have been what it was.�

He also refused to say that the title was in his pocket. �There is no way I can say that, because there are a good many matches left. Anything can happen. I don�t believe in any comment before I�m 100 per cent.�

�One of those days�

East Bengal coach Manoranjan Bhattacharya said Ratan Singh�s missing the flight of the ball from James Singh was a rare incident. �Such happens once in a hundred chances, and it did today.�

He, of course, said James Singh�s effort was commendable. Manoranjan�s did not seem too perturbed by this defeat. He said he was looking forward to the federation Cup and �no shadow of this defeat will be on that meet for East Bengal.�

While conceding that the seven-point difference was rather on the long side to be caught up with, Manorajan said that his team was getting into shape and he expects better understanding soon. He, made it clear that he was not satisfied with I.M. Vijayan. �He is not in form,� said the coach, cancelling all the English tour experience gathered by the player.

Match officials absent

Two first division group A matches fell through today because the match supervisors failed to turn up. The matches were the Eastern Coalfield-W.B. Police tie at the East Bengal ground and the Howrah Union- Sonali Shibir tie at the Mohun Bagan gorund.

In group B Barisha beat Bowbazar YMU 2-1.


Calcutta, Aug. 11: 
Top seed, GM Xu Jun of China, continued his winning run to emerge sole leader with four points after Round 4 the third Asian men�s chess championship at Gorky Sadan today.

He is followed closely by young Iranian IM Eshan Ghaem Maghami on 3.5. Maghami beat Reefat Bin Sattar of Bangladesh in 29 moves in the fourth round.

Ten players � including India�s Praveen Thipsay � are in the third spot with three points each.

GM Niaz Murshed of Bangladesh conceded his match against compatriot Taibur Rahman as he had to be hospitalised after complaining of chest pain.

In the fourth round, Safin Sukrat of Uzbekistan virtually handed the game to Jun on a platter when he blundered a rook on the 27th move which prompted his immediate resignation. Maghami outwitted Sattar in a Reti Opening. Maghami won a piece on d7 in the middlegame after which Reefat resigned.

GM Dibyendu Barua obtained an advantage against his one-time coach Evgeny Vladimirov of Kazakhstan in the Pelikan variation of the Siclian Defence but with opposite coloured bishops on board, the win remained elusive.

IM Mark Paragua of The Philippines went down to GM Mohamad Al-Modiakhi after a long struggle in a minor piece ending.

Thipsay drew quickly against Alexie Barsov of Uzbekistan to stay near the top.

Earlier in the day, in third round action, Jun played his usual brand of aggressive chess, and overcame the challenge of compatriot and IM Li Wenliang in a Nimzo Indian Defence. Jun won Wenliang�s queen for a rook and knight after which he had little difficulty in winning.

On the second board, Thipsay was content to stay near the top with a quick draw against Maghami in 19 moves in the Najdorf variation of the Sicilian Defence.

Paragua, who has had an excellent meet so far, was once again impressive and held Vladimirov in a King�s Indian Defence. Paragua played the rook ending from the book and forced Vladimirov to sign the peace treaty.

Luck smiled on Barua in the third round and he was fortunate to win with black pieces against E. Moradiabadi of Iran in a Queen�s Gambit Declined. �I was simply lucky to win as I had played the opening very badly and was clearly in an inferior position. My opponent blundered on the 27th move which gave me a piece and the game,� said Barua.

IM D.V. Prasad�s defence crumbled against Leonid Yurtaev of Kyrgystan in just 25 moves in a Sicilian Defence. Prasad�s opening left a lot to be desired and he lost two pawns early. Yurtaev exchanged the pieces to transpose into a knight ending, forcing Prasad�s resignation.

GM Krishnan Sasikiran prevailed over IM Anwar Nazarov of Tajikistan in a Reti Opening. Nazarov weakened his kingside by playing g4 which was slowly exploited in methodical fashion by Sasikiran.

IM Sandipan Chanda lost once again when he went down fighting to GM Murtas Kazhzaleyev of Kazakhstan in a knight versus bishop ending which arose from a Sicilian Defence.


TOP BOARDS: Shukhrat Safin (2.5) lost to Xu Jun (4); Tahir Vakhidov (3) drew Leonid Yurtaev (3); Ehsan Ghaem Maghami (3.5) bt Reefat Bin Sattar (2.5); Alexei Barsov (3) drew P. Thipsay (3); Mark Paragua (2.5) lost to Mohamad Al Modiahki (3.5); Morteza Mahjoob (3) drew We Wenjin (2.5); Peng Xiaomin (2.5) rew Liang Jingrong (2.5); D. Barua (2.5) drew E. Vladimirov (2.5); Pavel Kastur (2) lost to Marat Dzhumaev (3); Abdulla Al-Rakib (3) bt Liang Chong (2).

OTHER INDIANS: A. Kunte (2) lost to Zhang Pengxiang (3); Wang Yue (2.5) drew P. Harikrishna (2.5); K. Sasikiran (2.5) bt Sriram Jha (2); D.V. Prasad (2) drew Vladimir Magai (2); S.S. Ganguly (2) bt Elshan Moradiabadi (1); S. Chanda (1) drew A. Wohl (1); N.K. Mishra (1) drew Anvar Nazarov (1); P. Konguvel (0.5) drew Arash Roghani (0.5).


Calcutta, Aug. 11: 
The city-based Yusuf Ali ended his career-long title drought at the Hindu Open in Chennai today.

According to information received here, Yusuf carded one-under 71 in the final round for a tally of eight-under 280.

Pappan of Delhi, overnight leader, finished second with six-under 282. He had a bad final round of two-over 74. Jaipur�s Vishal Singh and Ali Sher of Delhi finished joint-third at five-under 283. Two-time defending champion, Lucknow�s Vijay Kumar, was tied for the fifth spot with Shiv Prakash and Rohtas Singh.


Colombo, Aug. 11: 
The Indian cricketers reached Galle this afternoon, after a nearly three-hour drive, and went straight to the International Stadium where they were greeted with a �green top.� Actually, not too much of a surprise that.

It remains to be seen, though, whether some of the grass will be removed ahead of the first Test, which begins Tuesday. Perhaps, it may not just be a coincidence that the curator wasn�t around when the Indians had their workout. To avoid answering some obvious questions, he probably did the disappearing act!

Meanwhile, according to The Telegraph�s sources, veteran Venkatesh Prasad appears to have the edge over Harvinder Singh in the �tussle� for the third seamer�s slot. So, Harvinder�s Test comeback will probably have to wait, but Mohammed Kaif will be making his return (at No.3) after 17 months.


Pune, Aug. 11: 
A good third in his last start, the Altaf Hussain-trained ward Communicator is strongly fancied to win the 1,600m Chief of Kagal Trophy at the Pune races on Sunday. Aadesh Kumar partners the Portroe-Neoclassic four-year-old.


1.15 pm: Bold Decision 1. Multimillionaire 2. Rhythm Divine 3.
1.45 pm: Reaching Out 1. Jayashree 2. The Gladiator 3.
2.15 pm: Communicator 1. Crowning Moment 2. Machrihanish 3.
2.45 pm: Timbavati 1. Alice Charms 2. Infamous 3.
3.15 pm: Conflagration 1. Northern Supreme 2. Loretta 3.
3.45 pm: Aphaia 1. Saphire Princess 2. Dahana 3.
4.15 pm: Winnington 1. Reflecting 2. Altazano 3.
4.45 pm: Timeless Elegance 1. Vengeance 2. High Voltage 3.
Day�s Best: Timbavati
Double: Communicator & Aphaia

Pune, Aug. 11: 
On an afternoon ruled by lesser fancied horses, the S. S. Shah-trained three-year-old colt Kraft scored an upset victory in the 1,800m Mayor�s Trophy at the Pune races held on Saturday. C. Rajendra partnered the Procida-Anusha son to victory.


(With inter-state dividends)
1. Danielle Plate, Div-II 1,400m: (9-7-5) Speedster (Merchant) 1; Instant Alliance 2; Dark Side of The Moon 3. Won by: 3/4; 2-1/4; (1-29.3). Tote: Win Rs 71; Place: 20; 19; 16; Quinella: 186; Tanala: 1,934. Fav: Dark Side of The Moon (5).
2. War Cry Plate 1,400m: (4-7-2) Dhanasri (Chinoy) 1; Track Emotions 2; Battle Star 3. Won by: 1-3/4; Dist; (1-28.4). Tote: Win Rs 195; Place: 19; 13; 10; Quinella: 229; Tanala: 3,054. Fav: Battle Star (2).
3. Danielle Plate, Div-I 1,400m: (8-7-3) Top�m All (Shelar) 1; Park Royal 2; Suddenly 3. Won by: 1/2; 3-1/4; (1-30). Tote: Win Rs 63; Place: 18; 39; 51; Quinella: 511; Tanala: 74,088. Fav: Act of Trust (5).
4. Imperial Heritage Plate 1,400m: (1-6-3) Mille Fiori (Shroff) 1; Elegant Jade 2; Thunderlite 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 1-1/2; (1-27.5). Tote: Win Rs 71; Place: 23; 16; 13; Quinella: 133; Tanala: 563. Fav: Elegant Jade (6).
5. Double Wish Plate 1,100m: (10-13-6) Teaser (Merchant) Phrawah 2; Arabian Fighter 3. Won by: 1/2; SH; (1-7.9). Tote: Win Rs 86; Place: 28; 274; 53; Quinella: 5,089; Tanala: 89,430 (C.o). Fav: Catch Me If You Can (1).
6. Mayor�s Trophy 1,800m: (2-1-6) Kraft (Rajendra) 1; Anxious Moments 2; Resist 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 1-3/4; (1-54.5). Tote: Win Rs 91; Place: 19; 12; 13; Quinella: 73; Tanala: 370. Fav: Anxious Moments (1).
7. Backgammon Plate 1,400m: (7-3-5) Cryptonite (Belose) 1; Sea Minstrael 2; Lion of Judah 3. Not run: Fabulous Fortune (12). Won by: Nk; 4; (1-27.5). Tote: Win Rs 91; Place: 25; 17; 81; Quinella: 227; Tanala: 17,047. Fav: Raring To Go (6).
8. Martial Air Plate 1,800m: (2-3-1) Boldwin (Kadam) 1; Wagga Wagga 2; Anjolie 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 3; (1-57.2). Tote: Win Rs 607; Place: 116; 37; 45; Quinella: 3,838; Tanala: 63,092. Fav: Speak Easy (6).
Jackpot: Rs 1,32,657 (Carried over to Sunday); (C) Rs 34,112.
Treble: (i) Rs 31,156; (ii) Rs 17,190.

Calcutta, Aug. 11: 
Alegria and Alcalde were impressive from among the following horses worked today:

Outer sand track

800m: On The Bit (F. Khan) in 59s; (400m) 28s.
400m: Silver Toy (Som S.) 30s.

Monsoon track

1,400m: Alegria (C. Alford) in 1-33s; (400m) 26s. Moved well. Alsheim (Rb) and Annella (C. Alford) in 1-40s; (400m) 26s. They were level.Annalee (C. Alford) in 1-36s; (400m) 27s. Fit. Freedom Warrior (C. Alford) and Magnifico (Surender) in 1-43s; (400m) 27s. They were level. Aiberni (C. Alford) in 1-55s; (400m) 30s.
1,000m: Break Fast At Tiffany (Islam) and Victoria Rose (Rb) in 1-12s; (400m) 27s. They were level. Track no 235 (Rabani) and Soviet Port (Islam) in 1-8; (400m) 26s. Former was a length better. Both worked well.
800m: Tequila Shot (Shanker) in 56s; (400m) 26. Easy. Floral Path (G. Singh) and Jeypore (Shanker) in 56s; (400m) 27s. They were level. Flying Scot (Upadhya) and No Regrets (R. Gowli) in 51s; (400m) 25s. They were level. Reactor (G. Singh) and Eau Savage (Shanker) in 52s; (400m) 26s. Former was a length better. Maltayar (B. Gurang) in 1-2s; (400m) 28s. Global Harmony (Bird) and Rare Gold (C. Alford) 53s; (400m) 24s. They were level. Arctic Fancy (P. Kumar) in 53s; (400m) 25s. Fit. Gold Buck (Shanker) in 54s; (400m) 27s. Easy. Alcalde (C. Alford) and Lockers Park (Rabani) in 51s; (400m) 23s. Former was 6 ls better. Note former. Double Bull (Connorton) in 56s; (400m) 27s. Alamito (C. Alford) and Charlene (Rabani) in 51s; (400m) 26s. Former was a length better. Harry The Horse (F. Khan) in 53s; (400m) 25s. Moved easy. Regency Times (Connrton) and Almond Rock (B. Gurang) in 53s; (400m) 26s. Former was far superior. Alumina (Amil) in 58s; (400m) 28s. Mr. Bombshell (Connorton) in 57s; (400m) 26s. Alkido (C. Alford) in 51s; (400m) 25s. Fit.
600m: Countach (M. Bhagwat) in 47s. (400m) 30s. Clarice Cliff (Rabani) in 43s; (400m) 27s. Iron Warrior (Rb) 42s; (400m) 27s.

Sand track

800m: Rheinheart (Shanker) in 1-0s; (400m) 27s. Grecian Prince (P. Kumar) and Rich Dominion (Yasin) in 55s; (400m) 24s. Former 4 ls better.
600m: Sky Command (P. Kumar) in 47s; (400m) 28s.

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