209 runs more to Sourav�s pride of place
Madugalle enjoying the TV break
Prasad: I gained in confidence
Saikat, Sanjib take Bengal to 273/8
Milan Bithee shock Customs
Shabana champion
Yusuf moves to 3rd position
Calcutta Racing/ RCTC�s Triple Crowns
Pune Racing/ Master Honey gets first call
Mysore �Million�/ Star Pegasus wins

Kandy, Aug. 24: 
INDIA 232, 55/1
SRI LANKA 274, 221

The ultimate test of self-belief. Faith. Confidence...

Call it what you may, but the moment of truth has arrived for Sourav Ganguly�s depleted team. At hand is the chance to redeem so much of what has been lost in recent weeks and months. It�s also an opportunity to shut up those with an agenda of their own.

Specifically, 209 runs are required. To redeem so much; to put in place those with a vested interest and, of course, to draw level with Sri Lanka in this three-Test series. It won�t be an easy night for many � on both sides of the Palk Strait.

The mood among the Indians has that touch of cautious optimism. As for the Lankans, they haven�t given up. On the cards is a tight finish to the second Test, at the Asgiriya, but the winning captain should be Sourav.

With all of two days remaining, the ask is comfortable. However, even though the wicket isn�t playing games, it has become lethargic and, so, the quicker the target (264) is reached the better.

�I�m confident, yes, but I won�t say anything beyond that,� remarked Sourav, during a chat with The Telegraph at the team hotel. He added: �Whatever the target, winning doesn�t come easy. Therefore, we�ll have to play good cricket.�

Speaking exclusively, Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya felt things were in the balance. �Right now, it�s an open Test... However, we need early wickets if we are to stay in business. Even otherwise, our allround game can�t fall below potential.�

That the Indians could stage an out-of-the-ordinary recovery was talked about in these columns today and, as it turned out, quicks Zaheer Khan (four for 76) and Venkatesh Prasad (five for 72) took the honours. Muttiah Muralidharan, though, did reduce some of the sheen by smashing a career-best 67 (94 minutes, 65 balls, 5x4, 3x6).

Still, by (once again delayed) stumps on Day III, India had knocked off 55 of the runs and at the wicket were Sadagopan Ramesh and vice-captain Rahul Dravid. The openers � who, surprisingly, showed poor understanding betweem themselves � were unseparated till 42 when Shiv Sundar Das, who survived a torrid spell from Chaminda Vaas, fell to the straighter one from Murali.

�The best way to approach the target is to relax... Stay calm and have the runs ticked off,� is how the cooler-than-cucumber Dravid summed up his thoughts. On him rests a huge responsibility, one he is capable of discharging. It would be an understatement to say the Lankans value Dravid�s wicket the most.

The order of the day, tomorrow, will be to keep the nerves in check. And, as Sourav pointed out, �to play the natural game�. Indeed, even before the umpires had come off, the Mohammed Kaifs and Hemang Badanis were on the field for a quick knockabout. The chance to be a hero, after all, is at hand. Such opportunities don�t come often.

It was in Zaheer and Prasad�s hands to bring India into the frame and, really, both were outstanding. They stuck to the basics, consistently pitching up instead of short. The Lankans enjoy the cut and pull, but aren�t very comfortable driving. Today, the Indians bowled to the Lankans� weakness.

Resuming at the overnight 52 for one, Lanka suffered two quick blows: Kumar Sangakkara didn�t move his feet well enough and, on the very third Zaheer delivery, was taken by Samir Dighe. Then, in the tenth over (Prasad), the wicketkeeper was again in the thick of action as he effected a low and brilliant one-handed dismissal of Maravan Atapattu.

Such catches win matches besides, in the short term, lifting a team�s morale.

Predictably, Sourav attacked more with Zaheer, who kept bending his back and getting rewarded. Prasad, on the other hand, largely had the restrictive role. It was reflected in the field set for the veteran.

Mahela Jayewardene, the first innings� centurion, was the next to go. Again, it�s Zaheer who struck, inducing the right-hander to drive and beating him in the air. Lanka also lost Russel Arnold before lunch (72 for five), when the otherwise solid bat first went forward, then back, and paid the price.

Dighe rubbed salt into Arnold�s wounds by �showing� him the dressing room. Arnold wasn�t amused but, then, during the recent tri-series, Dighe wasn�t impressed by some of the Lankan�s comments either.

Except for that one Prasad wicket, the other three were claimed by Zaheer (one in the first spell, two in the second). In fact, Zaheer�s second spell (5-1-16-2) was lethal, as he let fly. More important, he didn�t compromise with line or length and was well served by the cloud-cover.

During that second spell, Zaheer was once in discomfort and one feared his right ankle had played up. Thankfully, he just had problems with his boots. �They had begun to hurt, that�s all,� he explained.

After lunch, it�s Prasad who stole the show till Murali upstaged him. Bowling unchanged from the far end, Prasad got four wickets in 16 balls (conceding 16 runs), to post his seventh haul of five or more wickets in an innings. The last such performance was way back in January 1999, at the Chepauk against Pakistan.

An emotional Prasad acknowledged he had been �low on both confidence and motivation� before the on-going series and that he was largely only looking to be consistent. �Had I not come good today, I can�t say where I would have stood after this series... � he added.

Obviously, he is hurt that his India appearances have, in recent times, become limited.

To return to the day�s action, Suresh Perera became the first post-lunch victim. Actually, he should have fallen to Sourav, immediately on resumption, but Badani cut a sorry figure at second slip. This time, Badani didn�t make a mistake. It�s debatable who was more relieved � Badani himself or his teammates.

Hashan Tillekeratne, who should be dropped, was next to go, followed by Vaas and Dilhara Fernando. The latter�s dismissal reduced Lanka to 157 for nine. Only, what followed was a nightmare for Sourav and the event of the year for Kandyans.

That Murali meant business was evident from the beginning. He swung Prasad for six and, then, swatted him for another overboundary. All this while the Kandy-born Murali kept smiling, but the Indians weren�t one bit amused. Later, he also took a six off Harbhajan Singh.

The rain came just as Murali was stepping into top gear and the break (tea was taken early, at 172 for nine, with 28 minutes lost) reinforced his desire to make the Indian bowlers, for a change, dance to his tune. Passion, commitment... All the qualities which, ironically, Indian coach John Wright values most, were on display.

At the other end, Ruchira Perera was often an amused spectator, while the nearly 10,000 fans couldn�t have asked for more. As for the Indians, they turned into a confused lot and even the instinctively aggressive Sourav became ultra-defensive.

Multiple permutations were attempted, but the last-wicket pair continued to sting. Eventually, Harbhajan got Murali but, by then, he had brought Lanka back into the game. Vaas on the first day, Harbhajan yesterday and, today, Murali... Both teams have come up against unexpected lower-order defiance.

Significantly, Murali and Ruchira added a record-erasing 64, easily the highest stand of the innings. �How did I play the way I did? Well, it�s something I hadn�t even dreamt of,� Murali insisted, smiling as usual.

He remains Lanka�s best bet to stop the 209 runs coming India�s way.


Kandy, Aug. 24: 
It is unusual for a serving Match Referee to be doing TV commentary, but Ranjan Madugalle is on a sabbatical. And, yes, this former Sri Lankan captain has the International Cricket Council�s (ICC�s) permission.

�Actually, I had a string of assignments from last July till April and, so, decided to take a break before the next set (October onwards) is finalised,� Madugalle told The Telegraph, this afternoon. He added: �I�ll be refreshed and, thanks to the break, probably more focussed when I�m back as Match Referee.�

Madugalle, among the most respected of Match Referees, has been on the panel from 1994. His first assignment, in fact, was that year itself: Zimbabwe�s tour of Pakistan. While Madugalle has himself lost count of the assignments, he won�t forget officiating in the 1999 World Cup final at Lord�s.

He was also Match Referee in both editions of the ICC KnockOut finals, Dhaka (1998) and Nairobi (2000). Clearly, Madugalle is a top contender for the ICC�s elite panel of five full-time Match Referees.

�I can�t say whether or not I�ll be there... All I do know is that the elite panel will be operational from April next year. Also, that the ICC will be seeking applications by this year-end,� Madugalle remarked.

Madugalle, 42, believes the elite panel will help bring about greater consistency in decisions. Of course, there will also be a panel of (part-time) nominated Match Referees.

As he put it: �I accept there must be a level of consistency and, well, the ICC is moving towards that. I personally feel the elite panel will ensure that, because there will be a smaller number of (full-time) Match Referees as opposed to many appointed on an ad-hoc basis, depending on availability. There will, surely, be a greater flow of information and ideas (among the full-time appointees) and should lead to consistency.�

Madugalle, incidentally, declined to comment on Cammie Smith�s legendary inconsistency.

Smiling, he said: �Look, when I got the ICC�s permission for TV commentary, it was made clear I shouldn�t get involved in a controversy. Also, that I must not compromise my position as a Match Referee. So, really, I don�t wish to say anything.�

Talking about the Match Referees� expanding role, Madugalle observed: �Initially, the focus was on gaining acceptance. Now, players� conduct, for instance, is only one part of a Match Referee�s duties. Today, he must also report (to the ICC) on facilities, security, playing conditions... It�s a lengthy list... It�s more a managerial role as opposed to that of simply disciplining.�

As Madugalle had to return to the �box� for another stint, he just had time to sign off with: �I�ve enjoyed this exposure, have learnt quite a few things. Indeed, this (Media) was the only aspect of the game with which I hadn�t been involved. Now, even that has been experienced...�

However, with Madugalle expected to be on the elite panel, this exposure could eventually be a one-off affair only.


Kandy, Aug. 24: 
Had Jawagal Srinath been around, it�s possible Venkatesh Prasad may not have played here. Yet, today, Prasad returned a five-wicket haul, his first in 31 months. The seasoned pro is pleased but, as he pointed out, he will be �more happy� once India win the on-going Test.

�I hope we make it. I�ll then dedicate my performance to the team and my wife,� Prasad told The Telegraph.

Later, talking to touring mediapersons, Prasad said: �It�s being disciplined with line and length that made the difference... I stuck to the basics, largely maintaining a line around off and inviting the Sri Lankans to drive.�

And, despite getting a richer haul (five for 72), Prasad didn�t forget to laud Zaheer Khan. �It�s he who got the breakthroughs and, really, bowled splendidly...�

Having been more out than in of the Indian team, in recent times, Prasad remarked he was looking for �confidence� from the powers-that-be. �I was low both on confidence and motivation (before being picked for this series), besides being short on match practice. So, I came with the intention of first being consistent,� he confessed.

While Prasad didn�t exactly say so in as many words, he believes he has now �extended� his Test innings. Well, he certainly will remain in the picture.


Calcutta, Aug. 24: 
Bengal made 273 for eight in 95 overs against Jolly Rovers in the semi-final of the Buchi Babu memorial cricket tournament in Chennai today.

According to information received here, Bengal openers Saikat Mukherjee and Sanjib Sanyal put up a solid 104-run partnership after Bengal decided to bat on winning the toss. Saikat top-scored with 66 and Sanjib made 59. Sanjib�s innings contained three fours and a couple of sixes.

Veteran Utpal Chatterjee (57) and Sourashish Lahiri (21) were at the crease when stumps were drawn after Bengal had witnessed a middle-order collapse.

For Jolly Rovers, R. Ramkumar took three for 82 and I. Balaji two for 54.

Rlys seize initiative

Sanjay Satpathy claimed six for 66 to help Railways bundle out New Zealand A for a paltry 129 in their first innings in another semi-final. At close, the Ranji Trophy runners-up were 114 for four, reports PTI.


BENGAL: 273/8 in 95 ovs (Saikat Mukherjee 66, Sanjib Sanyal 59, Utpal Chatterjee 57 batting, Sourashish Lahiri 21 batting; R. Ramkumar 3/82) vs Jolly Rovers.

NEW ZEALAND A 129 (Mark Richardson 59 n.o.; Sanjay Satpathy 6/66, Murali Kartik 3/34). Railways 114/4 (Y. Goud 34 batting, M. Kartik 54).


Calcutta, Aug. 24: 
Milan Bithee shocked Calcutta Customs 3-1 at Barrackpore (Sap-2) while WB Police surprised Railway FC 2-0 at Bata Stadium at the CFL first division group A matches today.

Sunil Pal scored a brace and Debashish Roy netted another for Milan Bithee and Sanjay Roy pulled one back. Susanta Banerjee and Naru Gopal Ghosh scored one in each half for the policemen.

In other group A matches, Sonali Shibir, Ever-Ready and Salkia Friends scraped past Howrah Union, Kalighat Club and Bata SC by identical 1-0 margins.

Sanjay Santra, Shyam Babu Raut and Anwar Ali Beg scored the matchwinner for their respective teams. The match between Eastern Coalfield and CFC ended goalless.

Bhratri to protest

Bhratri Sangha, already in the Super Five of the Super Division, will register their protest of the IFA�s new schedule, under which they are to take on Tollygunge Agragami at Mohun Bagan ground on Monday. The match was originally due to take place on September 10, but the change in schedule was effected due to Tollygunge Agragami�s early exit from the Federation Cup.

�We are yet to be intimated officially about the change in the schedule. But if that be the case, we�ll definitely protest because most of our players are on leave and we need at least a week�s time to get things organised,� S. Bhowmick, a club official said.

According to the changed schedule, the Mohammedan Sporting � SAIL match, which was originally scheduled to be held in in the second week of September, was played yesterday.

CSJC soccer

Teams from IFA, Calcutta Referees Association, CSJC and Press Club will participate in the CSL-Bhratri Cup, to be held at the East Bengal ground on Sunday.

Help for junior �lifter

Sanghasree and Nabarun will meet in the five-a-side invitation football final, to be held at Baisnabghata Patuli Township on Sunday. Sanghasree beat Jadavpur Ex-Footballers� Association 1-0 and Nabarun defeated Srirampur Kalyan Samity 2-0 in the semi-finals today.

DKKSP, organisers of the meet, will financially help Probir Karmakar participate in the world junior powerlifting championships in Bulgaria next month.


Calcutta, Aug. 24: 
Shabana Parveen won the cadet girls singles title, beating Madhurima Das 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 11-4 in the final of the stage 1 state ranking table tennis meet at Railpukur United Club, south Dum Dum today.

Amarnath Das and Soumyajit Sarkar meet in the sub-junior boys� final while Santa Sabuj Chakraborty and Shiladitya Nag clash for the cadet boys� honour.

RESULTS: Cadet girls final � Shabana Parveen bt Madhurima Das 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 11-4. Cadet boys� semi-finals � Santa Sabuj Chakraborty bt Sougata Sarkar 8-11, 9-11, 11-6, 12-10, 15-13; Shiladitya Nag bt Kuntal Basak 13-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-2. Sub-jr boys� semi-finals � Amarnath Das bt Tuhin Sinha 11-7, 11-6, 11-5, 11-8; Soumyajit Sarkar bt Jayanta Sarkar 17-15, 10-12, 11-4, 11-8, 6-11, 11-9. Girls� singles semis � Anushree Saha bt Saptadipa Ghosh 11-0, 11-5, 11-1, 11-4.

Bronze for Karishma

Bengal�s Karishma Mallick bagged a bronze medal in the inaugural Asian junior taekwondo meet, held in Chang Hua of Chinese Taipei, earlier this month.

India�s Surender Bhandari won silver in feather weight and Krupali Borse a bronze in fly weight.


Calcutta, Aug. 24: 
Yusuf Ali of Calcutta made a welcome return to form with his day�s score of six-under 66 � also the day�s best card � to grab the third place at five-under 211. Vivek Bhandari maintained lead with a tally of nine-under 207, Jyoti Randhawa, lurking a couple of strokes behind, made the situation poised for an exciting final day of the Hero Honda Golf being played at KGA course in Bangalore.

According to information received here, SSP Chowrasia, another Calcutta lad, made his presence felt at fourth spot at 212, while opening-round leaders, Chandigarh�s Ranjit Singh and Lucknow�s Vijay Kumar were placed tied-fifth at 213. Firoz Ali of Calcutta was seventh at 214.

Yusuf returned an error-free card with a birdie start and finish to his round interspersed by four other birdies on the 10th, 13th, 14th and 16th.


Calcutta, Aug. 24: 
With special emphasis on the improvement of city racing the Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) stewards have decided to introduce four �championship series� targetting different winter season classics and �Graded� races. In their view, the new concept will not only encourage new ownership, it will also attract outstation runners thus increasing the much required thoroughbred population in Hastings stables. In stewards� opinion the new concept will also identify the the best horse in the city racing.

The champion Series is a group of certain prestigious races which offer high incentives for horses who run and win all the relevant races in that series. Four sets of such races have been placed together in separate series, with incentives to either sweep them or top the respective table on the basis of the league point system.

The four championship series are divided as follows:

1. The Calcutta Triple Crown: Constituting the Calcutta 2,000 Guineas, the Derby and the Indian Champion Cup.

2. Fillies Triple Crown: The 1,000 Guineas, the Oaks and the Derby.

3. Eveready Champions Crown: The Calcutta Gold Cup, the Indian Champion Cup and the Queen Elizabeth II Cup.

(Prize: for the above races are: Rs 4 lakh if a horse wins all the three race and Rs one lakh if the has the highest number of points in the series.)

4. Triple Tiara: The Alokananda Stakes, Acorn Stakes (new race for fillies) and the Fillies Trial Stakes in the subsequent Calcutta monsoon season. � Prize: Rs 2 lakh if a filly wins all the three race and Rs one lakh if she has the highest number of points in the series.

Points: Winner of the champion series race: 16 points; second: 8 points; third 4 points; fourth 2 points and fifth one point.


Pune, Aug. 24: 
A close fifth in his last start, the Hanut Singh-trained four-year-old Master Honey is fancied to win the 1,200m Dr. S. R. Captain Trophy in Pune on Saturday. C. Ruzaan partners the Cruachan-Back From Heaven son.


1.45 pm: Nothing Better 1. Fire Girl 2. Royal Standard 3.
2.15 pm: Salt Lake 1. Final Verdict Divine Quest 3.
2.45 pm: Spring Time 1. Flasher 2. Sizzling Symphony 3.
3.15 pm: Winning Melody 1. Malada 2. Park Royal 3.
3.45 pm: Most Attractive 1. The Flying Star 2. Zuhaak 3.
4.15 pm: Beau Wonder 1. Bonjour Tristesse 2. Secret Obsession 3.
4.45 pm: Master Honey 1. Blue Blood 2. Silver Blue 3.
5.15 pm: Lawyer�s Love 1. Abbeydoran 2. Dreadnought 3.
5.45 pm: Open Season 1. Sakshi 2. Infuriate 3.

Day�s Best: Salt Lake

Double: Most Attractive & Master Honey

Mysore, Aug. 24: 
Handled brilliantly by jockey B. Prakash, Star Pegasus walked away with the 1,400m Nanoli Stud Million, the main event at the Mysore races held on Friday. Ganapathy trained the M. A. M. Ramaswamy-owned three-year-old colt by Placerville out of Amazing Bay on an after ruled by fancied horses. However, trainer B. Puttanna and Zari Darashah and jockeys K. P. Appu and A. Imran Khan also shared the lime light with a brace of winners apiece.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Cauvery Plate 1,600m: (3-9-4) Selena (Suresh) 1; Sweeping Statement 2; Nice And Noble 3. Not run: Franco Leone (7). Won by: SH; Nk; (1-44.9). Tote: Win Rs 160; Place: 32; 22; 28; Quinella: 712; Tanala: 11,045. Fav: Sheer Blossoms (6).

2. August Plate 1,200m: (8-5-6) Nairn (Appu) 1; Gullane 2; Maltese Falcon 3. Won by: 8-1/4; 1/2; (1-12.8). Tote: Win Rs 18; Place: 12; 34; 31; Quinella: 185; Tanala: 1,826. Fav: Nairn (8).

3. Nandi Plate 1,200m: (2-1-8) Peace Desire (Mani) 1; Empress of India 2; Narvar 3. Won by: 3/4; 1-1/4; (1-16.1). Tote: Win Rs 25; Place: 18; 46; 24; Quinella: 306; Tanala: 2,030. Fav: Peace Desire (2).

4. Udhagamandalam Cup 1,600m: (4-2-9) Whatmore (Appu) 1; Aerobatic 2; Pride Valley 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 6-1/2; (1-40.4). Tote: Win Rs 37; Place: 14; 14; 219; Quinella: 41; Tanala: 3,749. Fav: Aerobatic (2).

5. Nanoli Stud Million 1,400m: (6-1-2-8) Star Pegasus (Prakash) 1; Antequera (Kader) 2; Vivid Dreams (Rakesh) 3; Arcaro (Rajesh) 4. Won by: 1-3/4; 3-1/4; 6; (1-26.2). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 10; 11; 16; Quinella: 18; Tanala: 97. Fav: Antequera (1).

6. Ranganathittu Plate 1,600m; (2-8-4) Royal Debut (A. Imran) 1; Starry Halo 2; Caesarr 3. Won by: 3/4; 2-1/4; (1-42.4). Tote: Win Rs 26; Place: 13; 15; 16; Quinella: 33; Tanala: 163. Fav: Royal Debut (2).

7. Shimoga Plate 1,200m: (8-4-2) Time of War (A. Imran) 1; Golden Collection 2; Compliance 3. Won by: 2-1/2; 3/4; (1-13.7). Tote: Win Rs 346; Place: 47; 15; 26; Quinella: 325; Tanala: 5,432. Fav: Soviet Park (10).

Jackpot: Rs 16,707; (C) Rs 173.

Treble: (i) Rs 158; (ii) Rs 1,621.

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