England eye Lanka encore
Dalmiya talks constructive, says Wright
Md. Sporting cling on to elite division
Annual regatta begins tomorrow
Eastern Rly top group A
Good start for Dhampur
AIFF set to net a sponsor

Ahmedabad, Dec. 10: 
As a youngster, he dreamt of playing Test cricket for India. Over the years, the desires and visions have changed for Sourav Ganguly. From Lord’s 1996 to Motera 2001, the Indian captain has come a long way.

Less than 24 hours away from playing his 50th Test match Sourav describes it “just another milestone.” He seems more focussed on winning the second Test versus England and sealing the series here itself. India cruised to a 10-wicket win in the first Test.

The events of the last five-and-a-half years in Sourav’s life will put to shame the most imaginative of Bollywood scriptwriters. His ascent to the throne of power in Indian cricket, the successes and failures that have paved his career, responsibilities which have come with fatherhood — Sourav has been through it all.

“It’s exciting playing my 50th Test, but I would always hope to continue in the same vein and play 50 more,” Sourav told The Telegraph this morning. It was at this very ground that Sourav had scored the last of his seven hundreds — 125 versus New Zealand in October 1999 — and he would obviously look to make a fresh beginning from here.

“My form has been a bit of a concern. I haven’t been playing upto my standards. I have been getting the starts and not being able to convert them into big ones. It’s either been poor shots or maybe lack of concentration. I have been trying my level best,” Sourav explained.

It was to sort out some of the finer technical points that Sourav flew in Mohinder Amarnath from Mumbai to watch and advise him at the match-eve nets. There has been no dearth of an attempt to make things happen.

The wicket at the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium should assist batsmen in the initial stages but will play low and slow as the match progresses. “The wicket looks hard and has a bit of grass. It will turn later on,” was Sourav’s reading.

“It’s pretty dry and might crack as the Test progresses,” said Duncan Fletcher. The England coach may not agree, but the fact remains that England have crumbled because of a mental block more often than not.

Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble remain their mystery men and as Fletcher emphasised, “they are more potent than Muralidharan or Saqlain Mushtaq.”

The visitors are drawing some consolation from their experience in Sri Lanka when they won the series after losing the opening Test. “It was quite a mauling in the first Test in Lanka. We did make a comeback then, and, hopefully it goes that way here too,” Fletcher said.

The Englishmen are looking upto Ashley Giles as their trumpcard. The left-arm spinner had played a big role in their series victory over Pakistan, taking 17 wickets. The fact, however, remains that the Warwickshire bowler will be rusty as he hasn’t bowled for over five months since his Achilles tendon injury.

“There is a very good chance he will be playing,” said Fletcher today. He is likely to come in place of medium-pacer James Ormond.

The most important thing will be how their batsmen cope with Harbhajan and Kumble. Hours of watching their bowling videos will not help unless Nasser Hussain and Co. show “discipline” out their in the middle.

The Indians, though are not taking things for granted. “We cannot be complacent. We know England will come hard at us,” Sourav insisted.

The availability of Jawagal Srinath and Virender Sehwag will add depth to the Indian attack. The fast bowler will replace Sanjay Bangar in the playing XI while Sehwag comes in for Iqbal Siddiqui.

Srinath, along with Tinu Yohannan, should form an effective combination before the spinners take charge in these sultry conditions. Yohannan did impress during his debut in Mohali. The early morning dew in these parts, which may prompt a late start, will assist the pacers in the first session.

“Yohannan’s done well. The angle at which he bowls is such that he poses problems for the left-handers. But he still has a long way to go. The real pressure will start later when the expectations begin to rise,” was Sourav’s comment on Yohannan.

Sehwag, having served a one-Test ban, will have to fight away the trauma of the Port Elizabeth experience and concentrate on the job at hand.

“Sehwag has to take it in his stride, he looks all right,” the Indian captain observed.

The Delhi allrounder sought the blessings of a Jain sanyasi along with some of his other teammates after practice. The guru disappeared when England came for nets in the afternoon. The visitors, one feels, would need more of the divine help if they were to make a mark in the series!


INDIA (likely): Shiv Sundar Das, Deep Dasgupta, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, V.V.S. Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Jawagal Srianth, Tinu Yohannan.

ENGLAND (from): Mark Butcher, Marcus Trescothick, Nasser Hussain, Garham Thorpe, Mark Ramprakash, Andrew Flintoff, Craig White, Ashley Giles, James Foster, James Ormond, Richard Dawson, Matthew Hoggard.

Umpires: Ian Robinson and A.V. Jayaprakash.


Ahmedabad, Dec. 10: 
John Wright has endorsed Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Jagmohan Dalmiya’s call for accountability and felt it was good for the game.

Wright described his discussion with Dalmiya in New Delhi last Saturday as “constructive”. The BCCI chief had wanted to talk to Wright and physio Andrew Leipus regarding the team’s inconsistent showing abroad and the injuries to many of the key players.

“There were a lot of things to discuss. It was a good opportunity to speak to him and I found accountability was something that was close to the president’s heart,” the Indian coach said.

“We have to respect the game to be accountable to the cricket lovers in India. No one is bigger than the game,” Wright added.


Calcutta, Dec. 10: 
Md. Sporting 2

Mohammedan Sporting needed a goal each from their Nepalese and Nigerian recruits to finally retain their place in the Calcutta Football League’s Super Division.

Having kept their fans on the tenterhooks since the league got underway in July, the black-and-white brigade laboured to a 2-1 win over BNR in their fourth and final relegation leg match. The full points ensured Mohammedan Sporting the sixth place in the ten-team league — and a ticket to next year’s Super Division.

It meant that BNR will feature with George Telegraph, FCI and SAIL in the shootout to identify the two demoted teams.

There was a hint of foulplay today as BNR coach Tapanjyoti Mitra said after the game he wanted Mohammedan Sporting to win so that his team could avoid them in the next stage.

The BNR coach felt it was a tactical move to keep Mohammedan Sporting out of the ‘relegation race’. “What’s the point in keeping them even if they are inferior to a few other teams? They have the clout and we can’t be sure of the absence of any foulplay if they enter the knockout round. It’s to our interest that we didn’t play them in the crunch games to follow,” said Mitra.

In an otherwise lacklustre match, the home team took the lead through Hari Khadka five minutes after half-time. Subhashish Chakraborty equalised in the 74th. Nigerian striker Lawrence Enyilord made it 2-1 seven minutes from time and that was that. It was a must-win game for Mohammedan Sporting since FCI had a slim chance of overtaking them had they dropped a point today.

New coach soon

Mohammedan Sporting officials, meanwhile, said they will appoint a new coach later this month. The team is not scheduled to play any tournament until the Super Division starts next season. Still, the new club secretary Sultan Ahmed insisted, a coach will be appointed before the year-end.

He also said the club will reconsider having the UB Group as sponsors since “not a single penny” of the Rs 15 lakh promised has been received. He also said there was apprehension among club members about having a liquor company as sponsors.


MOHAMMEDAN SPORTING: Imran Khan; Ali Reza, Aslam Pervez (Debu Pradhan, 46), Insaan Ali, Amit Dutta; Aladuddin Rehman (Ayaz Bin Abdul Haq, 75), Gunabir Singh, Deb Narayan Chawdhry, Arunava Sarkar (Manoharan, 32); Hari Khadka, Lawrence Enyilord.

BNR: Subhash Ghosh; Amit Ghosh (Partha Saha, 57), Sandip Das, Manoj Das, Amal Ghosh; Partha Mitra, Mainul Haq, Jayanta Ghosh, Kamal Ghosh; Surajit Mundy, Subhashish Chakraborty.

Referee: Chitta Ranjan Das Majumdar.


Calcutta, Dec. 10: 
The Amateur Rowing Association of the East-organised 61st annual regatta will be held at the Calcutta Rowing Club courses in Rabindra Sarobar from Wednesday to Saturday.

There will be no foreign participation unlike in 1996, organisers said. Also, considering the complete dominance of Services rowers, a separate section has been constituted for them for the first time.

Otherwise, there will be seven teams in the ‘normal’ category. Four local teams — Calcutta Rowing Club, Lake Club, Bengal Rowing Club and University Rowing Club — will vie for honours along with Madras Boat Club, Trishna Rowing Club (Bangalore) and Association of Rowing and Sculling (Orissa).

State junior boxing

The state sub-junior and junior boxing championships will be held at Howrah Maidan from Wednesday to Friday. The weighing-in and medical tests will be held tomorrow. A Bengal Amateur Boxing Federation release said the national sub-junior meet will be held in Jamshedpur from December 17-23, while Noida will host the national junior meet from January 13-18.

Basketball teams

The Bengal teams for the senior national basketball meet to be held in Pune from December 22-29 was named today.

THE TEAMS: MEN — Surojit Dey, Amar Swarnakar, Debojyoti Ghosh, Raj Kumar Singh, Ram Kishore Kumar, Sadhan Mondal, Amitava Mukherjee, Biswajit Ojha, Manoj Mahato, Bikash Agarwal, Debashish saha, Tanmoy Das.

Coach: Sukumar Chatterjee.

WOMEN — M. Kutty, Santha Rao, Ajita Nair, Usri Majumdar, Rimi Barua, Sujata Haldar, Priyanka Kumari, Rinki Rakshit, Kasturi Ghosh, Rakhi Bose, Roma Jaiswal.

Coach: Sabita Majumdar.

BSNL soccer

Bengal will meet Karnataka in the semi-final of the All-India BSNL football meet tomorrow. The other semi-final pits Kerala against MTNL, Delhi. In today’s league ties at the SAI complex, Bengal beat Orissa 1-0 and Kerala beat Punjab 2-0. Bihar edged Gujarat 2-0 in another match.

University table tennis

Calcutta boys beat Delhi 3-1 in a group C match of the inter-university table tennis meet today. Among girls, Calcutta University defeated Pune University 3-2. Calcutta University boys’ team in group D lost 1-3 to Rohilkhand.

OTHER RESULTS: BOYS: Group A — Punjab bt Bhartiar Univ. 3-1, Aurangabad bt Manipur 3-2. Group B: Osmania bt Pune 3-1, Burdwan bt CSJ Kanpur 3-0. Group C: Bangalore bt Rajasthan 3-0. Group D: Ravishankar bt Barkatulla 3-1. GIRLS: Group A: Delhi bt Bangalore 3-0, DAVU, Indore, bt Patna 3-1. Group B: Madras bt Mumbai (wo), Burdwan bt Punjab (wo). Group C: North Bengal bt Guru Nanak 3-1, VTU, Belgaon, bt MSSU, Ajmer (wo). Group D: Kerala bt HNB Garwal (wo).


Calcutta, Dec. 10: 
Eastern Railway emerged champions in the CFL first division group A today with a 2-0 win over Ever-Ready in the play-off final.

Prasanta Chakraborty’s brace smashed Ever-Ready’s hopes of emerging champions on their group A debut. Both teams have qualified for next year’s Super Division competition.

Bengal under-19 team

A 21-member Bengal squad was announced today for the B.C. Roy Trophy national under-19 football meet in Jodhpur. The team, with Krishnendu Roy as coach, leaves tomorrow. The captain is yet to be named and a decision is expected to be taken after reaching the venue.

Bengal’s first match in the group phase is against Gujarat on Saturday. Orissa and Daman & Diu are the other teams in Bengal’s group.

THE SQUAD: Arup Nag, Goutam Das, Laxman Das, Ashot Karar, Dibakar Roy, Tarak Nath, Anupam sarkar, Dipankar Ghosh, Prakash Koley, Mohammed Shaqueel, Chandan Debnath, Suman Ghosh, Sariful Islam, Dulal Raha, Laltu Mondal, Amit Das, Indrajit Sil, Debashish Roy, Satyajit Bose, Hidayatullah, Laxman Singh. Coach: Krishnendu Roy.

Floodlit tennis

Ranjan Prasad and Karina Ahuja emerged champions in the under-12 boys and under-14 girls events, respectively, in the Floodlit tennis meet at Saturday Club today. Prasad beat Mohammed Ismail 6-1, 6-0 in the final, while Karina overcame Shivika Burman 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.


Calcutta, Dec. 10: 
The Winter Bridge Nationals got underway at Netaji Indoor Stadium today with 227 teams taking part in the main event — Ruia Cup —the Open team competition.

At the end of Round 6 in the 17-round Swiss League tournament divided in two segments, Dhampur Sugar were leading in section A. Haldibari had a comfortable lead in section B.

Ashok Goel, Ratanlal Kejriwal, Sudhir Ganguly, Prakash Kejriwal, Kamal Mukherjee and Alok Sadhu are representing Dhampur Sugar. Haldibari comprises Dipak Majumdar, Robi Nag, Satyabrata Lahiri, Manik Chakraborty, B. Saha and Asit Kundu.

A.R. Dass IV is in the second place in group A and Friends Club is following Haldibari in group B. Formidables, including five of the six players who represented India in the Bermuda Bowl last month, and Railways A are comfortably placed.


New Delhi, Dec. 10: 
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi today expressed hope of acquiring, in collaboration with the newly appointed marketing agents Strata Sports of London, a major title sponsor for the 6th National Football League commencing on December 12.

According to Das Munshi, the AIFF is interested in a long-term deal and the Tatas would be the most likely sponsors though the exact amount of sponsorship is unknown.

The managing director of Strata Sports, Faisal Kashmiri, is in Delhi for talks with AIFF officials regarding in-stadia advertising during the NFL.

Das Munshi also announced that V. Manilal Fernando, Fifa Goal Project Development officer and vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation had visited sites in Delhi and Bangalore and approved of the AIFF’s plans for the utilisation of funds from this project.

Till now 50 of Fifa’s 204 member associations have benefitted from the Goal Project. India missed out initially but will now get aid, worth $400,000 along with Pakistan and Bangladesh.


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