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With the ambience so very gloomy, umpires A.V.Jayaprakash and Asoka de Silva didn�t even wait for their second formal inspection, slated for 11 am, to rule no play would be possible on the final day of a rain-drenched Test.
In fact, the curtain came down on the three-match Hero Honda series at 10.43 am, with the only �colour� being provided by England captain Nasser Hussain, who stepped out of the dressing room with a smart umbrella.
Later, talking to the Media, Hussain expressed �happiness� at the way his team responded after losing in Mohali by ten wickets � that, too, within four days. �It�s not the time to uncork champagne, but the way the lads fought back showed character... Our biggest gain was the exceptional team spirit (despite the big defeat in Test No.1)...�
Smiling, Hussain cited young wicketkeeper James Foster�s example to illustrate just how his largely inexperienced team coped with the pressures of touring India.
�After Mohali, Jamie confessed he was very nervous. Well, I gave him one tip: That this nervousness won�t ever go away and that he should do his best. He did, exhibiting much character.�
Indian captain Sourav Ganguly, on the other hand, didn�t have that over-the-moon look. He did win another series, but he himself realises India were clear favourites to win big. The team didn�t. Also, that England actually had the advantage both in Motera and at the Chinnaswamy here.
�We didn�t bat well enough, just weren�t consistent. The bowlers, though, did a superb job,� Sourav observed. The captain himself had a poor series and admitted he would have to �work� on his game between now and the ODIs, just under a month away. Among other things, Sourav needs a break. He gets it now.
Hopefully, he will be back to that class of 1996.
Significantly, asked if his team enjoyed the much talked about home advantage, Sourav paused and answered �no.� The captain didn�t complain, but it�s obvious he would have liked wickets to have turned square from early on. For his part, Hussain maintained the series was played on three �very good� wickets.
Though there appeared to be an undeclared �war� between the captains, both insisted the series was played the way it ought to have been.
�A bit of aggression is necessary... In any case, there�s so much pressure out there,� Sourav pointed out, while Hussain opined: �Cricket is a tough game... The odd word can be said. However, the incident (third afternoon) was well handled... I don�t think cricket was the loser, just because the Match Referee (Denis Lindsay) intervened.�
Hussain, it may be recalled, was involved in an �exchange� with Sachin Tendulkar and Shiv Sundar Das. Ashley Giles, too, was part of that jhamela.
The incident prompted Lindsay to �warn� the captains and coaches of both teams.
Incidentally, Hussain didn�t go along with teammate Michael Vaughan�s thoughts after being dismissed handling the ball. �His reaction was an emotional one... Really, he was caught �doping� and it did cost him a hundred... Had he continued, he would surely have got one...� is how Hussain put it.
Vaughan (64) had claimed the �entire� team was disappointed once the Indians had appealed.
Predictably, Hussain defended his (and Giles�) tactics, while Sourav preferred not to be directly critical of England�s negative approach from one end. �Hussain had his style, had his gameplan,� Sourav remarked.
However, Indian coach John Wright did make the point about his wanting cricket to be �as pure as possible.� He disagreed with a suggestion, though, that the Indians didn�t have a planned counter to Giles� line. �When the world�s best batsman (Sachin) struggles...� he trailed off.
[Wright, by the way, is going home to New Zealand for Christmas. �I�ll leave tomorrow and return on January 8, before the Challenger,� he told The Telegraph, pleased that his contract has been renewed. Only, as he explained, �many challenges� lie ahead.]
Sachin may not have mastered Giles in the way he neutralised Shane Warne, but with scores of 88 (Mohali), 103 and 26 (Moetra) and 90 (Bangalore), he walked away with the MoS award. During the course of his knock here, the maestro also crossed the 1,000-run mark in 2001 � despite missing all three Tests in Sri Lanka.
For the statistically inclined, India finished with a 5-5 Test record � three wins at home � in 2001. Three encounters ended in a stalemate.
England leave for home late tonight.
Meanwhile, Board president Jagmohan Dalmiya clarified that even if England agree to play a sixth one-dayer, the �problem� specific to India�s tour of that country next summer won�t be resolved unless England also agree to play an �extra� Test on their next trip to India (2006).
One learns Cuttack and Rajkot are among the venues �very keen� to host the additional ODI � if an agreement is reached, that is. England, one gathers, favour two in Mumbai itself.
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�His term is till the end of the ODIs and, so, there�s no question of changing horses midstream... As for the series to follow, we will see. In any case, we have named Sourav as the India (Senior) captain in the Challenger... Let us wait and see,� Borde, himself a former India captain, told the Media.
The chief selector added: �All batsmen go through a bad patch, but Sourav�s continues. Yes, it�s a source of worry...� Though the captain has scored in the ODIs, he has had just one fifty in exactly a year of Test cricket.
According to The Telegraph�s sources, Borde wouldn�t have said what he actually did, had Board president Jagmohan Dalmiya not engaged in some plain-talking on accountability during the �joint� meeting last evening. Sourav, by the way, has acknowledged he struggled in the series which ended today.
Meanwhile, Sourav, Rahul Dravid (who may eventually be rested because of a shoulder problem) and Anil Kumble will lead the three teams in the Hero Honda-N.K.P.Salve Challenger Trophy. Sachin Tendulkar and Jawagal Srinath have been rested for the January 10-13 meet here.
While there is no place for Venkatesh Prasad, Harvinder Singh and (not surprisingly) Nayan Mongia, East has six representatives: Sourav, Shiv Sundar Das, Deep Dasgupta and Debashish Mohanty in India (Senior), Rohan Gavaskar in India A and Assam�s promising middle-order bat Zakaria Zufri in India B.
INDIA (Senior): Sourav Ganguly (captain), Shiv Sundar Das, V.V.S.Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Hemang Badani, Jacob Martin, Sanjay Bangar, Deep Dasgupta (wk), Harbhajan Singh, Sunil Joshi, Tinu Yohannan, Iqbal Siddiqui and Debashish Mohanty.
INDIA A: Rahul Dravid (captain), Connor Williams, Daniel Manohar, Rohan Gavaskar, Sangram Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Ajay Ratra (wk), Reetinder Singh Sodhi, Murali Kartik, Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, Sarandeep Singh and Sitanshu Kotak.
INDIA B: Anil Kumble (captain), Mohammed Kaif, Sridharan Sriram, Dinesh Mongia, Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Arjun Yadav, Zakaria Zufri, Vijay Bharadwaj, Pankaj Dharmani (wk), Ashish Nehra, Sanjay Pandey, Amit Bhandari and Devendra Bundela.
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Chasing 385, City were dismissed for 236 with Santadeep Pal top-scoring with an unbeaten 67. Shib Sankar Pal claimed four scalps, Nazar Khan three.
Sporting Union squeezed out a one-wicket win over Dakshin Kalikata Sansad. In another low-scoring match, Calcutta Customs beat BNR by three wickets.
Elsewhere, Ananda Bazar Patrika Sports Club rode Sukomal Ganguly�s 125 to a five-wicket win over Aryan while Calcutta Port Trust beat Belgachia United by 95 runs.
Mohun Bagan 384. City AC 236 (Santadeep Pal 67 not out, Siddhartha Das 33; Shib Sankar Pal 4/75, Nazar Khan 3/77). Bagan won by 148 runs.
Aryan 269. Ananda Bazar Patrika Sports Club 272/5 (Sukomal Ganguly 125, Kumar Das 45, Alekh Barik 34 not out). Ananda Bazar won by 5 wkts.
Barisha 342/3 (Dibyendu Chakraborty 72 not out, Kuntal Mallick 43). Town 212/5 (Sudip Mitra 78 not out). Match drawn.
Tollygunge Agragami 450/7. Rajasthan 312/9 (Joydeep Ghosh 62, Probal Mukherjee 61 not out, Afzal Siddiqui 60, Nilashish Ghosh 53; Kunal Bajpai 5/111, Rakesh Joshi 2/35). Match drawn.
George Telegraph 384/9. Ballygunge United 239/9 (R. Yadav 75, S. Sengupta 68; Subhranil Som 6/83). Match drawn.
CPT 289. Belgachia Utd 194 (Shyamal Saha 5/35). Port won by 95 runs.
Mohammedan Sporting 296. Calcutta Rangers 284/8 (Parikshit Nanda 76, Sabir Hussain 69, S.P. Srivastava 38; Upendra Dutta 5/67). Match drawn.
DKS 202. Sporting Union 204/9 (Snehasish Pal 64, Sandip Ganguly 36; Virendra Pratap Singh 5/50). Sporting Union won by 1 wicket.
BNR 148. Customs 152/7 (Prosenjit Ganguly 34; Arindam Bhattacharya 4/56). Customs won by 3 wickets.
n Shambazar 404/4 (Parimal Ghosh 145, Mayukh Biswas 134, Debdulal Majumdar 66). Taltala Inst. 18/0. Match to continue.
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Of the four National crowns on offer in the two categories, Raunak Banerji was the only one to salvage local pride as he claimed the Best Rider Children (Group II � 8-12 years). The Group I title went to Nidhi Dev (12-14) of Equestrian Centre for Excellence, Bangalore.
The best sub-junior rider (16-21 years) crown was won by the National Defence Academy cadet V. Chauhan, while the sub-junior title (12-16) went to Anant Agnihotri (12-16), an individual entry.
Nationals: Best junior rider (16-21): Cdt Chouhan (NDA), Best sub-junior rider (12-16): Anant Agnihotri (Individual), Best rider children group I (12-14): Nidhi Dev (ECE) and Best rider children group II (8-12) Raunak Banerji (Tolly).
Eastern India championship: Best horse of show: Supreme Choice (Tolly), Best performer of the show: Supreme Choice, Best child rider(10-13): Senior Kingshuk Chatterjee (Tolly), Best child � junior (below 10): Kshitij Jhunjhunwala (FWRI).
Junior Nationa one-day event- overall: Cdt. V. Chauhan (NDA) 1; N. C. Subbaiya (ECE) 2, Kavita Swittens (Lawrence School).
Ladies Hacks: Franziska (astride North Star, Tolly) 1; Judith Bidappa (Slash, EI) 2, Devika Mukherjee (Pathfinder, Tolly) 3.
Pairs � group II: Gautam Jain � adult (Pentire, Tolly) and Radhika Jindal � child (Funtoose) 1, Devika Mukherjee � adult (Pasa, Tolly) and Rahul Mukherjee (Ginger) 2; Raj Vikram Singh Deo � adult (Sorborne, Tolly) and Vedant Pachisia � child (Scooby Doo) 3.
Child pony beginner �A� : Kshitij Jhunjhunwala (Kush, FWRI) 1, Syed Azhar Quaderi (Funtoose, FWRI) 2; Rohan Nippani (Peppermint, Tolly) 3.
Child pony beginner �B� : Debayadh (Kush, FWRI) 1. Stuti Ginodia (Ginger, Tolly) 2; Shrey Garg (Tomato (Tolly) 3.
Child pony beginner �C� : Aishwarya Nag Choudhuri (Scooby Doo, Tolly) 1, Yash Vaddhan Sethia (Minni, Tolly) 2; Sumon Chatterjee (Tomato, Tolly) 3.
Team Tent pegging: Sunil Raghuvanshi (Prashant, BSF II), Sumer Singh (Chetak) and CT Jaswinder Singh (Bijli) 1, SI Sompal Singh (Nisha, ITBP), CT Baljit Singh (Nagin) and Ct suresh Kumar (Top Dancer 2; Hav. S. D. Kale (New Light (ASC, N), Sub. Satyavir Singh (Ashok) and Nk. Ajit Singh (Samsher) 3.
Open jumping: Maj. Jagat Singh (North Star, EC) 1, Swr Govind Ram (Turf Queen, RTSD) 2, Maj. A. S. Randhawa (Shahanshah, 61b Cav.) 3.
Fault and out relay: Maj. Shailendra Singh (Mustafa, 61 Cav.) and Maj. A. S. Randhawa (Shahanshah) 1, Gejendra Singh (Samsher, 61 Cav.) and Dft. Shaitan Singh (Titan) 2; Dft. Gindhari (Matwala, EC) and Nk. Ajit Singh (Ashish, ASC, N) 3.
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Bengal, in pursuit of Orissa�s first-innings score of 240, began the final day on 234 for seven at the Eden Gardens. The seven runs duly knocked off, the tail went on to accrue 20 more. It meant a 21-run lead for Bengal, but that was enough to fetch them five crucial points. Bengal finished their engagements with a tally of 31 points.
In their second innings, Orissa progressed to 175 for four before stumps were drawn.
BRIEF SCORES: Orissa 240 and 175/4 (Rajkumar Rath 79, Rashmi Ranjan Rout 49; Manoj Tewari 2/24). Bengal 261.
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The Delhi golfer was stretched to the 20th hole by Harinder Gupta before he got through by sinking a birdie putt.
Another strong contender Gurbaz Mann of Chandigarh, who hit a 280-yard drive on the 14th hole, lost out to Chennai�s Salvadurai on the 18th.
Keshav Mishra and Sandeep Syal also made it to the semis.
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1. Eversun Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (4-5-3) Mick�s Mystique (Ranjane) 1; Positive Thinker 2; Majestic Crown 3. Won by: 3-1/4; 1/2; (1-15.2). Tote: Win Rs 93; Place: 25; 17; 12; Quinella: 256; Tanala: 1,481. Fav: Majestic Crown (3).
2. Shantidas Askuran Trophy 2,400m: (6-5-4) Centenary (Rajendra) 1; Suratha 2; Altazano 3. Won by: 4; Hd; (2-39.4). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 19; 22; Quinella: 54; Tanala: 235. Fav: Centenary (6).
3. Allah Rakhkha Trophy 1,200m: (6-7-1) Our Dynasty (Prakash) 1; Sky Rocket 2; Active Warrior 3. Won by: 2-1/4; Dist; (1-14.6). Tote: Win Rs 13; Place: 11; 15; 17; Quinella: 24; Tanala: 110. Fav: Our Dynasty (6).
4. Eversun Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (2-4-5) Speedster (Chauhan) 1; X-Pac 2; Truluck 3. Not run: Valid Appeal (6). Won by: 1/2; Nk; (1-17.4). Tote: Win Rs 27; Place: 13; 28; 15; Quinella: 161; Tanala: 693. Fav: Speedster (2).
5. F. K. Vakil Trophy, Div-II 1,400m: (3-4-1) Star Power (Gallagher) 1; Celtic Son 2; Venire 3. Won by: 3-1/2; 1-1/4; (1-28.6). Tote: Win Rs 29; Place: 12; 14; 17; Quinella: 40; Tanala: 178. Fav: Star Power (3).
6. F. K. Vakil Trophy, Div-I 1,400m: (6-5-2) Lucky Strike (Shaikh) 1; Kraftwerk 2; Over The Ocean 3. Won by: 1; 1-3/4; (1-29.2). Tote: Win Rs 18; Place: 11; 11; 16; Quinella: 18; Tanala: 64. Fav: Lucky Strike (6).
7. Hard Held Plate, Div-II 1,100m: (8-1-3) Anacita (Rajendra) 1; Alice Charms 2; Touch Wood 3. Won by: 3/4; 2-1/4; (1-8.6). Tote: Win Rs 20; Place: 11; 25; 16; Quinella: 80; Tanala: 227. Fav: Anacita (8).
8. �Daum France� & L�Artiste Crystal Trophy 1,000m: (5-10-12) Palazzio (Kamlesh) 1; Fluency 2; Reconquista 3. Not run: Peace March (18). Won by: 7-1/2; 1-3/4; (59.9). Tote: Win Rs 17; Place: 14; 33; 30; Quinella: 116; Tanala: 602. Fav: Palazzio (5).
9. McDowell Indian 2000 Guineas 1,600m: (13-1-12-11) Wild Eagle (Gallagher) 1; Ansbach (Kader) 2; Tobler (M. Narredu) 3; The Pelican (Lemaire) 4. Won by: 2; 1-1/4; 3-1/4; (1-38.5). Tote: Win Rs 25; Place: 14; 16; 15; Quinella: 44; Tanala: 143. Fav: Wild Eagle (13).
10. Hard Held Plate, Div-I 1,100m: (5-4-6) Super Sword (Berry) 1; Timbavati 2; Tagamet 3. Won by: 5-1/2; 1/2; (1-8.2). Tote: Win Rs 21; Place: 12; 16; 95; Quinella: 35; Tanala: 857. Fav: Super Sword (5).
11. Paragon Plate 2,000m: (4-6-5) Cajun King (J. Chinoy) 1; Chance 2; Loving You. Won by: 2-1/4; 1-1/2; (2-10.5). Tote: Win Rs 131; Place: 35; 22; 24; Quinella: 598; Tanala: 11,023. Fav: Radical Force (3).
Jackpot: Rs 2,337; (C) Rs 70.
Treble: (i) Rs 79; (ii) Rs 65; (iii) Rs 588.
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1. Harvest Star Handicap 1,100m (Cl IV, Rt. 22-50) 1.10 pm: Declarationoflove 60.5; Sadaf 60.5; Rheinheart 56.5; Lively Project 56; Sencai 55; Dictate 54; Red Cordon 53.
2. Predator Cup 1,100m (Cl V, Rt. 00-28) 1.50 pm: Bay Dragon 60.5; Aklovic 60; Scenic Song 58; Floral Path 57.5; Lovely Duchess 56; Appyness 55.5; Castle Moon 50.5; Aureate 48.5.
3. General A S Vaidya Memorial Cup 2,000m (Cl III; Cl IV eligible) 2.20 pm: Own Legacy 60; Among Men 59.5; Set Aside 59; Abroach 55.5; Solo Act 53.5; Crowned Prince 48.5.
4. Ute Handicap 1,400m (Cl IV, Rt. 22-50) 2.55 pm: Santillana 60.5; Bul Bul 60; Beau Bruno 57.5; Tequila Shot 57; Iron Warrior 55; Royal Ruler 55; Alborada 54.5; Black Mane 51.5; Just Kidding 49.5; Scavenger�s Son 48.
5. Army Cup 1,400m (Cl I, Rt. 88 & over) 3.25 pm: Beneficent 60; Soviet Song 59; Amusing 56; Secret Blessing�s 55.5; Lockers Park 52; Earl Grey 51.5; Reine Beau 51; Alcalde 49.5.
6. Destiny Boy Handicap 1,400m (Cl III, Rt. 44-72) 4 pm: Illustrious Reign 61; Scarlet Raider 59.5; Silver Toy 58.5; Immaculate 58; Grand Lodge 56.5; Actress 56; Gallant Romeo 56; Fairy Prince 54; Charlene 52; Excellent Striker 50.5; Midas Touch 50; Asprey 49.
Jackpot: 2; 3; 4; 5 & 6.
Treble: (i) 1; 2 & 3; (ii) 4; 5 & 6.