2nd Test poised for close finish
No change in Indian squad for third Test
Not consulting Sourav on team was ridiculous: Mike Brearley
Bangla scrap tri-series
Referee Debak Guha passes away
Indian Rlys B in semi-finals
Mukesh joins Firoz in lead
88 entries so far
Calcutta Racing/ Alford cousins in limelight
Bangalore Racing/ Magic Stride for Rohini Cup

Ahmedabad, Dec. 14: 
England 407 & 257
India 291 & 17/0

Nasser Hussain was seen locked in an engrossing discussion with Mike Brearley a little after tea today. The smart tactician that Brearley was, it would be unwise for the current England captain not to take a leaf out of his experience book in deciding the course of this Test.

It can now go either way, but if the Indian batsmen stick to their plan of passing the opening session peacefully tomorrow, the visitors will have to struggle. The pitch has not deteriorated to the extent of being unplayable. It will be a matter of application and concentration on the part of the batsmen in picking the 357 runs still required to seal the series.

Mark Butcher, however, sounded a note of caution for the hosts. �The wicket is breaking up and there is dust around. It will be a tough battle out there.�

Another good day for England, having extended their overnight lead to 373. As the Indian bowlers � sans Harbhajan Singh, who had the sixth five-wicket haul of his career � failed to check the flow of runs and the fielders dropped catches at will the Englishmen prospered.

Having recovered from the psychological barrier that had offset their plans in Mohali and knowing fully well that there was no demon in the pitch, they waited patiently for the loose deliveries. The morning session proved most fruitful. Butcher and Hussain added 112 runs for the second wicket. They were helped in their mission by some unprofessional approach on the field by the Indians.

The slip fielders were lethargic in their approach to convert the half chances. Deep Dasgupta�s keeping was poor and at par with his performance in the first innings. Those on the outfield fared no better, both batsmen surviving once off Harbhajan. If Craig White�s miraculous survival propelled England to 407, Hussain and Butcher�s dropped catches may cost the Test.

Sourav Ganguly, too, erred in using his bowlers. He persisted with Jawagal Srinath and Anil Kumble � occasionally bringing on Tinu Yohannan � while Harbhajan was made to bowl only the last four overs before lunch.

The off-spinner, though, proved to be the most impressive as he came on after the break. The bounce proved disturbing for the batsmen and so was the variation as he made use of the footmarks. Luckily, Harbhajan never allowed the frustration at dropped chances to affect his bowling.

The battle of mindgames was also being fought out in the middle. The Englishmen seemed unnerved. Umpire A.V. Jayaprakash had to step in once when Sourav seemed to object to his counterpart calling the 12th man for a drinks break. Both captains were reportedly called for a hearing with Match Referee Dennis Lindsay later. There was no official communication and the outcome was unknown.

BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah confirmed Sourav was called but said it was more of a �fatherly chat�.

Harbhajan finally got the breakthrough as Hussain ( 50 off 116 balls, 3x4, 1x6) fell to a bat-pad catch at forward short leg. It opened the floodgates, Mark Ramprakash�s flamboyant show lasting only 27 balls.

Flintoff�s arrival � Sourav�s former Lancashire colleague and a constant punching partner in this series � prompted the Indian skipper to stand at backward short leg. But no drama ensued as he left in the next over.

Meanwhile, the Indians could not hide their displeasure and disappointment when a bat-pad appeal off White was turned down by umpire Ian Robinson. The bowler to suffer was Kumble.

Butcher (92 off 202 balls, 9x4), in the interim, fought acute stress arising out of a stomach bug but managed to cling on. The Surrey batsman, who topped the averages at this summer�s Ashes series and led them to a fourth Test win in Headingley, showed immense guts and determination in sticking around for 253 minutes.

Forced to take anti-bacterial pills every half-an-hour to fight giddiness, he worked the ball to the gaps constantly. He left in the final over before tea, held at slip off a Harbhajan delivery that bounced and left him.

�I had to work very hard for my runs. It�s very disappointing to miss out on a century,� said a tired-looking Butcher after the day�s play.

The Indians also resorted to some time-wasting tactics once checking the run flow became difficult. Several long team �meetings�, aimed at upsetting the opponent�s gameplan, followed.

Kumble�s three wickets today, ten in a match for the fourth time, took his tally to 299 and it will be a good opportunity for him to reach the magical mark on his homeground.


Ahemdabad, Dec. 14: 
The national selectors today retained the same squad for the third and final Test versus England beginning in Bangalore from December 19.

According to sources, Deep Dasgupta�s performance here in the second Test was discussed at length at the selectors� conclave, but it was generally decided that the Bengal wicketkeeper be persisted with for the series.

If the selectors decided not to replace Deep, it was mainly because of his solid batting. �Having him in the squad always gives the option of an extra opener,� was the opinion at the meeting, it was learnt.

One good reason for shying away from effecting any change in the squad was the fact that the selectors did not wish to play around with the morale of the players ahead of the crucial fifth day of the second Test here. They also did not want to disturb the combination of the side in the series. Deep has had a rather bad time behind the wickets here, missing several catches and a stumping chance.

THE SQUAD: Sourav Ganguly, Shiv Sundar Das, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Deep Dasgupta, Connor Williams, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Jawagal Srinath, Tinu Yohannan, Iqbal Siddiqui and Sarandeep Singh.

No instruction from skipper: Butcher

Mark Butcher today said that the English batsmen had no instructions from the team management to score quick runs. �We had no instruction to go after the bowling. We were only told to hang in there and see how it goes,� he said.

The opener was obviously disappointed to miss out on his century but was satisfied to have contributed a healthy score to the total. �I�m very happy I contributed to my team�s cause and I hope we pull off a victory and square the series here,� said Butcher.


Ahmedabad, Dec. 14: 
The suave, gentle and soft spoken Mike Brearley greets you with a gentle nod when you run into him at the Motera press box. He hasn�t changed much over the years, except for the greying hair.

Much like his personality, he seems forthright about his views. There is no shying away from controversial topics, no attempt to hide his feelings on the aspects of the modern game.

On a BBC commentary assignment here, he strongly believes that �luck and Ian Botham� made him one of the most successful of England captains. �I was very dedicated to the game tactically, very willing to experiment and set targets,� he told The Telegraph this afternoon.

Brearley says Nasser Hussain and Steve Waugh have been impressive of late. �I like Nasser Hussain, he�s a good captain. I have seen more of him than anyone else. He and Steve Waugh seem good captains to me. �Nasser is willing to try new things. He treats people differently according to their character. He�s obviously gained the respect of the team.

�Steve has a very good team, of course. You have to be close to the team, see them day in and day out,� he said.

On a scale of ten, how much would he award each? �I don�t know if I would give them ten but they are certainly in the 7/8/9 bracket.�

Brearley hasn�t seen much of Sourav Ganguly and so did not wish to comment. �I haven�t seen him day in and day out. It�s very difficult to say.� He also did not wish to comment on the Mike Denness episode in South Africa as he �did not see� what had exactly happened. �But I can tell you what I�ve seen from just one-and-a-half hour of this match. I saw the time when Craig White was caught and the Indians appealed unsuccessfully. The Indians went on for too long.

�If you�re disappointed and think it�s a bad decision, get on with the game. The body language of the players was too prolonged, too obvious. It stirs the crowd and everyone. It�s designed to make the umpires feel bad. They need to be a little more self-controlled.

�I understand it�s human � when there�s a mistake you get angry, frustrated. But the umpires are their best, the Match Referee too. They may have been hard but with good reasons too,� he felt.

What makes a good captain? �There are different things but the most important is how he gets the best out of the players. You need to know what makes them tick. In other words, think about tactics, both short term and long term. It�s not just experimenting but at the same time being orthodox. You just can�t sum it up in one word. But getting the best out of the players is most important. It involves developing some sort of rapport with the players. You may not like each very much but there should be some sort of engagement person to person,� he explained.

He feels education does not necessarily make a good captain. �It helps to be mature and shrewd,k and it helps to play your part in the overall as well as your own game.

�But there were captains who were educated and good captains who weren�t educated. I suppose Keith Fletcher was a good captain but he left school at 15. He got very little chance and shouldn�t have been kicked out as captain.�

Should captains have a vote in selection of teams? �I think he should have a big role as he is the man who has to back the bowler. He also shouldn�t have the sole authority as he will need other people�s advice. I gather Sourav Ganguly wasn�t even consulted before the team was picked for Mohali. That�s ridiculous. How can you expect him to perform? He doesn�t even know the bowler.

He is not always for captains having to be a batsmen. �I think fast bowlers don�t make good captains. They need lot of adrenaline and be physically involved with a lot of aggression. I don�t think it�s easy to combine both. But all-rounders seems to be good captains.�

He doesn�t think the game has lost characters. �Sachin Tendulkar is one, so is Harbhajan. It is good to have characters but it is also important to have reliable players, someone like Dravid. �You needn�t say he is a good character but you have to say he is a tremendous player in terms of skill, stamina and concentration.�


Calcutta, Dec. 14: 
With India choosing to skip the January 3-13 triangular in Bangladesh, the tournament has been scrapped.

�Pakistan is willing to play even if we get a �replacement� but, frankly, staging a tournament without India isn�t feasible,� informed a candid Ashraful Haq, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) director and chairman of its cricket committee.

Contacted by The Telegraph in Dhaka, this afternoon, Haq added: �That the triangular (Bangladesh would have been the third team) is off, has come as a huge disappointment to fans, but there�s nothing we can do...�

Fans will now have to be content watching the forthcoming Bangladesh versus Pakistan series: Two Tests and three ODIs. Of course, Wasim Akram and Saeed Anwar have a huge following, but Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly remain the biggest draw in Dhaka and elsewhere.

Incidentally, though the BCB was negotiating with sponsors, a tie-up was put on hold till the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) confirmed participation. For much the same reason, TV rights had also not been sold.

The BCCI, it may be recalled, conveyed its regrets largely after realising some of the top players would make themselves unavailable. After all, they do need a break � some, in fact, have had just four weeks off (that, too, not at a stretch) from end-May till now.

According to Haq, BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya has �promised� in writing India will visit Bangladesh after the February-March 2003 World Cup. It�s possible, therefore, that India will feature in a triangular, with South Africa and Bangladesh being the other teams.

South Africa�s United Cricket Board has already confirmed a visit to Bangladesh, right after the World Cup, for two Tests and three ODIs.

Predictably, meanwhile, yet another politician � this time ruling party MP Mohammed Ali Asghar � is heading the BCB. Asghar�s (full-time) predecessor was the dynamic Saber Hossain Choudhury, a minister in the then Sheikh Hasina government.


Calcutta, Dec. 14: 
Soccer referee Debak Guha passed away this morning at a city hospital. He was 38. Guha, a bachelor, succumbed to severe burn injuries received on the night of December 4. A stove burst while he was cooking at a get-together near his home at Baranagar.

A national panel referee for the last four years, Guha officiated in the under-19 nationals. He also did duty in two Mohun Bagan versus East Bengal matches. Out of action the whole of this year following an operation on his right heel, Guha was gearing up to return with the whistle.

No interest for NFL Derby

Mohun Bagan are due to lock horns with sworn enemies East Bengal in less than 48 hours� time, but there is hardly any interest among soccer fans. About 62,000 tickets have been printed for sale of which not even 5,000 have been picked up so far. Of course, the 15,000-odd complimentaries will ensure the Salt Lake Stadium terraces don�t remain empty on Sunday.

Bengal begin well

Bengal dismissed Tripura for 96 and then scored 51 for three on the opening day of their Vijay Merchant (under-16) Trophy match in Agartala. According to information received here, Debabrata Pal (five for 31) and Manoj Tewari (three for 12) were Bengal�s principal wreckers.

Sewa knocks out Panja

Manoj Sewa recovered well to beat Sourav Panja 1-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) in the semi-finals of the Saturday Club floodlit meet this evening. The second semi-final saw Siddharth Verma blank Samrat Ghosh 6-0, 6-0.

Other results: Mixed doubles handicap final: K. De & O. Mazumdar bt N. Ali & S. Ali 6-2, 6-3;

Veterans� doubles final: N. Ali & Dilip Kumar bt A. Lal & N. Bhatia 6-3 conceded;

Men�s handicap doubles: G. Mukherjee & J. Gandhi bt A. Karnani & S. Chakrabarty 6-0, 6-8, 6-1.

National volleyball

Bengal men will open their campaign in the 50th senior national volleyball championships, to be held in Raipur, against Punjab next Friday. The women�s team kicks off their engagements with a match against Pondicherry a day later.

Bengal men�s other opponents in group A are champions Kerala, Railways, UP and Himachal.

The women will have to cross swords with holders Andhra, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and UP.

University soccer

Punjab walloped JNV Jodhpur 8-1 in their all-India inter-University soccer meet today. Hosts Calcutta drew with MG Kottayam.

The inaugural state darts championship will be held at the International Club from Wednesday. The four-day meet will feature nine events � men�s singles and doubles, ladies� singles and doubles, mixed doubles, boys� singles and doubles, girls� singles and doubles.

A total of Rs 40,000 will be on offer as prize-money.


Calcutta, Dec. 14: 
Compensating for their seniors� early exit, Indian Railways B, represented by N. P. Kabiraj, S. Bhattacharjee, A. N. Banerjee, H. Hasan, B. De and T. Adhya reached the semi-finals today, of the Ruia Trophy in the 43rd winter national bridge championship here.

Monotona, their opponents in the quarter finals, conceded after the Railway team had established a huge lead of over 80 IMPs.

In the other quarter final in the top half, C.V. Rao-AP also conceded their match to India Blues when the latter established a massive 86 IMPs lead.

In the bottom half quarter finals, one match proved to be a cliff-hanger. While C.V. Rao-A had a slender lead of 15 IMPs at the halfway stage, their opponents recovered in the third segment and took a lead by a small margin of 5 IMPs. Thereafter, C.V. Rao went ahead and sealed the match with 10 IMP-lead to qualify for semi-finals.

Formidables, the team which represented India in the world championships recently, had a comfortable win over leaders of the tournament, Haldibari and moved into the last four stage.

The line-up for semi-finals in the Ruia Trophy tomorrow pits Indian Blues against C.V. Rao �A while Formidables facing Indian Railways B on the other half.

Meanwhile, over 300 pairs have played their first elimination round in the Pairs event for the Holkar Trophy. There will be three elimination rounds for this event and the finals will be played on the last day of the tournament on December 19. The Ruia Trophy semi-finals will be tomorrow and the finals on Sunday.


Calcutta, Dec. 14: 
Zai Kipgen sizzled the course with a superb five-under 67 but failed to displace Firoz Ali from the lead after the second round of the Rs 8.5 lakh Servo Masters golf meet today. Firoz, the overnight leader, was, however, joined by Mukesh Kumar atop the leaderboard, the twosome tallying six-under 138.

Zai�s effort earned him a tied-third spot with Chandigarh�s Harmeet Kahlon, at three-under 141. Calcutta�s Basad Ali, the other golfer to return a 67 today, was tied-fifth with Rafiq Ali, S.S.P. Chowrasia (both Calcutta), Amit Dube (Noida) and Delhi�s Rohtas Singh at two-under 142.


Calcutta, Dec. 14: 
The Goodricke East India amateur golf meet will be held at the RCGC course from Wednesday through Christmas Day.

Announcing this today, Lakshman Singh informed that the meet has attracted 88 entries so far � 18 more than last year.

Like last year, entries have been restricted to golfers with a handicap of under nine. The top 10 amateurs � including Simarjeet Singh, Ashok Kumar, Jasjeet Singh, Gagan Verma and Saurav Bahuguna � will be vying for top honours.


Calcutta, Dec. 14: 
Alford cousins, Cristopher and Rutherford found, the going easy in today�s race-card as they notched up, between them, five of the seven events on offer. It was, however, Cristopher who held the advantage with victory in three trophy events while Rutherford rode well-judged winners in the upper division of the T. N. Banerjea Cup, through On The Bit, and Fly By Alibi in the Winged Tiger Handicap. Cristopher, on his part, delighted the race-crowd when he booted home the hot-favourite Anatolia in a tight-finish to lift the Breeders� Cup. With the easy victory of Ancheta and Abashed, the jockey also helped trainer Vijay Singh notch up a treble. The feature event, the Bangalore Turf Club Cup was, however, an easy picking for Nic Connorton who partnered the Daniel David-trainee Beneficent to four-length-plus victory.


1. Winged Tiger Handicap 1, 100m: (1-5-10-3) Fly By Alibi (Rutherford) 1; Lovely Duchess (P. Alford) 2; Piece of Cake (Dalpat S.) 3; Heaven�s Blessing (Shanker) 4. Not run: Albright (2). Won by: 2-1/4; Nk; 1-1/4; (1-8.8). Tote: Win Rs 17; Place: 12; 60; 13; Quinella: 259; Tanala: 1,176. Fav: Fly By Alibi (1). Winner trained by R. Alford.

2. Breeders� Cup 1,100m: (6-7-1-3) Anatolia (C. Alford) 1; Romantic Notes (Shanker) 2; Announcer (Amil) 3; Musician (Rabani) 4. Won by: SH; 5-3/4; 3/4; (1-8). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 10; 60; 26; Quinella: 119; Tanala: 508. Fav: Anatolia (6). Winner trained by Vijay S.

3. Mauritius Belle Cup 1,200m: (9-3-12-6) Ancheta (C. Alford) 1; Gold Buck (Shanker) 2; Raring To Go (Yasin) 3; Arctic Fancy (Connorton) 4. Won by: 6-1/4; 1-3/4; 2-3/4; (1-12.3). Tote: Win Rs 13; Place: 10; 17; 86; Quinella: 39; Tanala: 759. Fav: Ancheta (9). Winner trained by Vijay S.

4. INS Hooghly Cup 1,200m: (1-7-2-5) Abashed (C. Alford) 1; Lively Project (A. P. Singh) 2; Flying Scot (Gowli) 3; Rheinheart (Shanker) 4. Won by: 1-1/4; 3; 1-1/4; (1-14.6). Tote: Win Rs 28; Place: 12; 12; 22; Quinella: 25; Tanala: 207. Fav: Lively Project (7). Winner trained by Vijay S.

5. Bangalore Turf Club Cup 1,200m: (4-5-1-6) Beneficent (Connorton) 1; Clarice Cliff (Islam) 2; Annalee (C. Alford) 3; Reine Beau (Kujur) 4. Won by: 4-1/4; 1/2; 1-3/4; (1-12.6). Tote: Win Rs 21; Place: 10; 12; 10; Quinella: 34; Tanala: 77. Fav: Beneficent (4). Winner trained by Daniel D.

6. T. N. Banerjea Cup, Div-I 1,100m: (7-10-12-2) On The Bit (Rutherford) 1; Lawyer�s Love (Tamang) 2; Alegria (Domingo) 3; Aracruz (Rabani) 4. Not run: Best In Show (8). Won by: 2-1/4; Nk; 2-3/4; (1-7.8). Tote: Win Rs 45; Place: 15; 28; 13; Quinella: 797; Tanala: 1,919. Fav: Alegria (12). Winner trained by J. Stephens.

7. T. N. Banerjea Cup, Div-II 1,100m: (3-5-1-7) Endless Surprise (Maseyk) 1; Silver Toy (Gowli) 2; Anokato (A. P. Singh) 3; Tajik (Rutherford) 4. Won by: Nk; 1-1/4; 1/2; (1-6.7). Tote: Win Rs 159; Place: 28; 32; 25; Quinella: 868; Tanala: 14,362. Fav: Andrada (8). Winner trained by Bharath S.

Jackpot: Rs 3,391; (C) Rs 69.

Treble: (i) Rs 32; (ii) Rs 1,351.


Bangalore, Dec. 14: 
The Ganapathy-ward Magic Stride may win the 1,200m Rohini Cup, tomorrow.


2 pm: Noble Nancy 1. Ithica 2.

2.30 pm: Cool Camp 1. Juarra 2. Beverly Babe 3.

3 pm: Three To Count 1. Renzino 2. Saturn Star 3.

3.30 pm: Shining Knight 1. Astrid 2. Caressing 3.

4 pm: Magic Stride 1. Go Honey Go 2. Extreme Contact 3.

4.30 pm: Crown Dancer 1. National Tiger 2. Rush 3.

5 pm: Winning Charm 1. Step In Time 2. Good Win 3.

Day�s Best: Crown Dancer

Double: Shining Knight & Magic Stride

Friday�s Bangalore results

1.Dharwar Plate: Bernstein (Norton) 1; Steinlen 2; Gem 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 7-1/4; (1-9.3). Tote: Win Rs 16; Place: 12; 12; 19; Forecast: 26; Quinella: 15; Tanala: 53 & 40. Fav: Bernstein.

2. Anekal Plate: Dark Felt (Md Shafiq) 1; Agnivarsh 2; Vertigo 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 1-3/4; (1-43.1). Tote: Win Rs 43; Place: 19; 16; 45; Forecast:117; Quinella: 63; Tanala: 666 & 375. Fav: Dark Felt.

3. Belgaum Plate, Div-I: Queenstown (I. Chisty) 1; Ma Baker 2; Flash First 3. Won by: 2; 1/2; (1-26.9). Tote: Win Rs 492; Place: 61; 14; 12; Forecast: 980; Quinella: 363; Tanala: 1,710 & 668. Fav: Flash First.

4. Kailash Trophy: Aveyron (Kader) 1; Southern Host 2; Caape City 3. Won by: 1; 2-1/4; (1-56.6). Tote: Win Rs 41; Place: 16; 15; 33; Forecast: 85; Quinella: 53; Tanala: 324 & 251. Fav: Barroness Orczy.

5. Royal Calcutta Turf Club Cup: Alylady (F. Ismail) 1; Ronson 2; Winelight 3. Won by: 1-1/4; Nk; (1-14.1). Tote: Win Rs 74; Place: 31; 113; Forecast: 521; Quinella: 382; Tanala: 3,090 & 1,655. Fav: Grisogono.

6. K. M. Eswarsa Memorial Plate: Different Ballgame (Marshall) 1; Sunchaser 2; Tina�s Tune 3. Won by: 2-3/4; 1/2; (1-15.5). Tote: Win Rs 28; Place: 14; 20; 68; Forecast: 42; Quinella: 69; Tanala: 676 & 653. Fav: Different Ballgame.

7. Belgaum Plate, Div-II: Screen Play (Harish) 1; Whattagirl 2; Kingston Heath 3. Won by: 3/4; 1-1/2; ( 1-28.9). Tote: Win Rs 30; Place: 17; 20; 34; Forecast: 124; Quinella: 99; Tanala: 670 & 316. Fav: Screen Play.

Jackpot: Rs 93,086 (C) Rs 9,974.

Mini jackpot: Rs 15,648.

Treble: Rs 499.


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