Late surge by East Bengal
Tissera�s quiet move
Vengsarkar arrives in city
Punjab Police favoured
Rain forces replay
Calcutta Racing/ Regency Times may win last day�s main event

Calcutta, April 3: 

If pride is too enticing a dish, it should be served hot.

East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick, in the unenviable position of having to motivate his wards after being knocked out of the title-race, did exactly that and the effect was quite sizzling.

Minutes before his team took the field, Bhowmick urged the players to play for pride � the pride of defending champions, however incongruous that may sound.

For the entire 90 minutes at Salt Lake Stadium this afternoon, the East Bengal players displayed the kind of authority and audacity that made them worthy champions of the National League last season.

The 5-1 victory against Tollygunge Agragami was richly deserved. A pity East Bengal are no longer in a position to have a crack at retaining their crown.

East Bengal raced to a 3-0 lead in a span of ten minutes in the first half. Omolaja Olalekan, Bijen Singh and Jose Carlos da Silva were on target. After the break, Dipankar Roy struck twice within three minutes to heap further humiliation on Tollygunge. Moses Owira got a late consolation goal.

The result lifted East Bengal to sixth position (29 points from 19 matches) while Tollygunge remained close to the relegation zone (20 points).

East Bengal defender Dipak Mondal was ejected in the 75th minute for deliberately handling a goalbound effort by Moses with the goalkeeper out of position.

Both teams played an open game almost all through the game. Both came across numerous chances and, in the end, it was East Bengal�s accuracy in the attacking third and Carlos� spirited display that made the difference.

The beginning, however, wasn�t smooth for East Bengal. Goalkeeper Sudip Sarkar had to twice thwart dangers from close range. Those early minutes saw the East Bengal defenders struggle to cover forwards Ashim Biswas and Adeola Adeyeri in their bid to move up in attack.

Omolaja�s 29 minute-strike changed the complexion of the game. Dipak�s header off a Bijen Singh cross from the right fell in the way of Omolaja inside the box and the Nigerian�s spectacular side-volley gave custodian Sandip Nandi no time to react.

Two minutes later, it was the East Bengal captain�s turn to bulge the netting. Carlos released a perfect pass to Bijen, who shot home from near the six-yard box.

Aloke Mukherjee�s side could hardly realise what was happening when Carlos himself got into the act, six minutes from the breather.

It was a gem of a move down the middle, with Omolaja essaying a horizontal pass from the right. Dipak sold a dummy, giving Bijen the chance to trap and release an incisive through for Carlos inside the box. The Brazilian made no mistake from close.

Tollygunge, clearly upset by the absence of Mehtab Hossain and Sandip Das in the midfield, had Shasthi Duley waging a lone and often futile battle up front. They had their chances, including a penalty following Dipak�s red card. Duley, however, missed it.

Tollygunge suffered further shocks when Dipankar, with his strikes in the 55th and 57th minutes, exposed a fragile Tollygunge defence and a crestfallen Nandi under the bar.


EAST BENGAL: Sudip Sarkar; Surya Bikash Chakraborty, Suley Musah, Jackson Egygpong, Dipak Mondal; Sankar Lal Chakraborty, Chandan Das (Ranjan Dey, 83), Bijen Singh, Dipankar Roy; Omolaja Olalekan (Dipendu Biswas, 57), Jose Carlos da Silva.

TOLLYGUNGE AGRAGAMI: Sandip Nandi; Subhas Roy Chowdhury, Debkumar Sansmal, Satish Bharti, Amitava Chanda; Shasthi Duley, Srikrishna Ghosh, Moses Owira, Adeola Adeyeri (Uttam Debnath, 72), N. Khemtang Paite (Prahlad Rawat, 21), Ashim Biswas.

Referee: J. Ravi Shankar (Delhi)


Calcutta, April 3: 
Michael Tissera isn�t just soft-spoken, he has made it a habit of doing things quietly.

It wasn�t any different a few weeks ago when, on being appointed Sri Lanka�s chief selector, Tissera had a word with Aravinda de Silva who had begun focussing on business interests.

Actually, Tissera conveyed a fair message: That there still was a role for Aravinda, provided he got serious about training and regularly played the form-indicating club cricket (for Nondescripts CC, in Colombo).

Quite a change, really, from the attitude of his predecessor � T.B.Kehalgamuwa � and a lesson for selectors in some of the other countries.

Aravinda, 36 and out of favour from March last year, responded by regularly training � with the national players, whenever possible � and began turning out for his club.

With Aravinda fulfilling �requirements�, Tissera and his colleagues (Don Anurasiri, Mahesh Gunatillake and Roger Wijesuriya) yesterday recalled the former captain for the three-Test series in England.

The last of Aravinda�s 89 Tests was against England in Colombo (March 2001), while his last ODI appearance, the 275th, was versus New Zealand in Christchurch (February 2001).

Together, Aravinda has over 14, 000 runs (5,952 in Tests alone) and 30 hundreds (19 in Tests).

�Given the build-up, so to say, my selection didn�t come as a surprise� There was that hint about being recalled� However, I�m obviously very happy,� Aravinda told The Telegraph, when contacted on his cellphone this afternoon.

But, surely, he will be under tremendous pressure�

�Look, one can only give hundred per cent and hope for the best. I can�t go beyond what I�m capable of� But, yes, I accept it�s going to be tough. Firstly, to straightaway return to Test cricket and, then, play in England in the first half of the summer,� Aravinda replied.

He continued: �I�ll be satisfied if my return is beneficial� Frankly, at this point in time, I�m not looking at anything more.�

Aravinda, of course, has had a season with Kent (1995) and, even today, acknowledges he learnt most during those five-six months at Canterbury. Grew immensely in confidence too.

Clearly, Aravinda�s experience of conditions in England is something the selectors remembered.

Asked whether he had been interacting with captain Sanath Jayasuriya, Aravinda answered �no,� quickly adding: �We don�t have a problem� Being absolutely comfortable in the dressing room should come easy.�

[Speaking exclusively during India�s tour of Sri Lanka last year, Aravinda had said: �� If Sanath has a problem, I�m willing to sit face-to-face and thrash it out. If Sanath is feeling insecure, on my account, he most definitely shouldn�t.�]

It�s confirmed that Jayasuriya didn�t back a move to recall Aravinda, during the India tour, but sources insist it was only because the captain �wasn�t sure� of the veteran�s �seriousness.�

Incidentally, despite being cold-shouldered, Aravinda wasn�t ever far from coach Dav Whatmore�s Test-specific plans.

Now that Aravinda is back, though for cricket�s longer version only, there�s this chance he may be asked to stay on for the June 27-July 13 tri-series (England, India and Sri Lanka).

After all, a handsome showing in the Tests (Lord�s, Edgbaston and Old Trafford) will make it difficult for Tissera and Co. to overlook his claims. The Test series ends on June 17.

For his part, however, Aravinda declined to say much. �It�s for the selectors to determine how and where I fit in� It�s difficult for me to say anything more��

Aravinda wishes his bat to do the talking.


Calcutta, April 3: 
Former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar arrived here late tonight for tomorrow�s NCA�s zonal meeting where 20 colts and five stand-byes will be picked. Vengsarkar will be having a closed-door session with the under-19 selectors of the zone.


Calcutta, April 3: 
Tanveer Jabbar�s golden goal may have propelled CRPF to the final of the Indian Oil-Servo Beighton Cup, at fancied Indian Airlines� expense, but it is Punjab Police who will start favourites in the title showdown tomorrow.

The team effort of CRPF has caught the eye but the presence of three World Cuppers � full-backs Jugraj Singh, Kanwalpreet Singh and forward Daljit Singh Dhillon � coupled with the superior overall experience of Punjab Police team should stand them in good stead. The policemen proved it during their golden goal win over Punjab & Sind Bank in the semis.

The absence of an astroturf and the uneven surface at the Mohun Bagan ground may be deterrent to good hockey but for connoisseurs, this edition of the tournament has certainly revived interest in the sport on the Maidan. A clutch of internationals, including some current World Cuppers, lent an element of glamour that had been lacking over the last few years.

The fact that CRPF have won two tournaments on grass recently makes them a team to be watched out. As coach Satinder Singh observed, the absence of stars has been neutralised by the hard-work of some equally talented but unheard bunch of youngsters.

It remains to be seen if CRPF will be third time lucky tomorrowafter having lost the final on two previous occasions.

The way they snatched the winner against Indian Airlines after the national champions had levelled scores at 2-2 spoke volumes of their grit and determination. The individual skill of Julian Topno apart, what stood out in their speedy display in the oppressive heat was the superb fitness level of the players.

Punjab Police coach Pargat Singh has already voiced his concern about the weather, and today�s squall must have brought him � and everyone else � some relief.

In case rain washes out the final, the teams will be declared joint winners.

�Indian Airlines shouldn�t have lost but CRPF have improved a lot over the last few years,� said Punjab Police captain Dhillon. �The side has been playing together for some time now and relies more on set-piece movements.

�CRPF will play a defensive game, at least in the first half. The second half will see a more open contest. We will obviously aim to play a more attacking game and score first,� Dhillon explained.

Pargat predicted a close contest. �Our thrust will be more on attack. CRPF have also done well here and it won�t be easy for us,� said the cautious former India skipper, who relaxed with a round of golf at Tollygunge Club this afternoon.

Punjab Police haven�t won a title this year, coming second-best in two Jalandhar tournaments recently. The �hunger� for success, therefore, should be very high. Dhillon blames the inconsistency on the team�s inability to practise together. �Most of the time, our players are busy with the national camps and India engagements. We miss out on the stars and as a result the performance suffers.

�We have now played a lot of games together and should overcome the problem of understanding among ourselves. It should be a good game.�

Dillon rued the absence of brother and World Cupper Baljit Singh and Tejbir Singh. The latter is here with the side but an injury has prevented him from taking the field. �We�re missing both badly. If they had played, we would felt more comfortable.�


Calcutta, April 3: 
The second day�s play of the Eastern Railway versus Rajasthan CAB league semi-final was abandoned amid bad weather today. The match will be replayed.

The afternoon�s BHA league matches suffered the same fate.

Asian youth football

India have been grouped with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Bhutan in the Asian youth (U-19) football championship. All the group matches will be held in Calcutta with India playing on July 10, 12 and 14.

Fifth seed ousted

Fifth seed D. Vishwakarma lost to Srimanta Malakar 6-3, 2-6, 2-6 in the boys� under-14 section of the Cosmo Open tennis meet today.


Calcutta, April 3: 
The 27 day winter racing season concludes tomorrow with a well-packed six-event card. With trainers� and jockeys� championships already assured for Daniel David and Cristopher Alford respectively, the excitement may largely centre on the two trophy events framed in the card and the brought forward jackpot amount of Rs 2,58,890 that will be added to to the afternoon pool.

Spotting the winner in the Royal Double Cup, the feature event, is no easy a task. There are 15 horses in contention and the luck of the run may play a major role. However, it is Regency Times who gets the first call in the race. The Daniel-ward had placed a good third in his last outing and the Shareef Dancer-Mafuta four-year-old may do better on this occasion. In the Magnanimous Cup an improving Cool Quest has the edge over the last outing failed-favourite Aiberni from trainer Bharath Singh�s yard.

Race card and selections

1. Stand Off Handicap 1,200m (Cl V, 3-y-o only Rt. 00-28) 1.35 pm: Anacott 60 C. Alford 7; Celestial Guest 60 Islam 6; Arian 58.5 Gajender 10; Cupid�s Arrow 58.5 P. Kumar 8; Cupola 58.5 K. Kumar 4; Dancing Rhythm 58.5 Domingo 3; Primaticcio 58.5 Gurang 5; Royal Command 58.5 Merchant 1; Mahika�s Pet 55 I. Chisty 9; Software Classic 54 M. Reuben 2.

1. Royal Command (8) 2. Primaticcio (7) 3. Anacott (1)

2. Largesse Handicap 1,100m (Cl III; Rt 44-72) 2.15 pm: Lawyer�s Love 60 Rutherford 9; Sergeant Slipper 57.5 Gurang 7; Best In Show 55.5 Rabani 1; Queen�s Logic 55 C. Alford 8; Sovereign Bullet 55 Upadhya 4; Declarationoflove 54.5 M. Reuben 3; Wakamba Warrior 53.5 Gajender 2; Khublei 53 (Withdrawn); Common Spirit 52 Merchant 5; Leading Conquest 49 I. Chisty 6.

1. Wakamba Warrior (7) 2. Common Spirit (9) 3. Queen�s Logic (4)

3. Loch Clieveden Handicap 1,200m (Cl IV; Rt 22-50) 2.50 pm: Prince of Fashion 60.5 I. Chisty 1; Tequila Shot 58 G. Singh 10; Storm Centre 57 A. P. Singh 3; Fly By Alibi 55.5 Yacoob 2; Rheinheart 55 Shanker 8; Beau Bruno 54.5 P. Alford 9; Finders Keepers 54.5 Brij S. 6; Freedom Warrior 54 (Withdrawn); Wandering Warrior 54 Khalander 5; Lady Shirley 52.5 Islam 7; Bay Dragon 51.5 Merchant 4.

1. Prince of Fashion (1) 2. Beau Bruno (6) 3. Rheinheart (5)

4. Magnanimous Cup 1,400m (Cl III; Rt 44-72) 3.25 pm: Raring To Go 60 Merchant 5; Kargil Soldier 56 M. Reuben 1; Cool Quest 55.5 I. Chisty 2; Mr Bombshell 55 Rabani 9; Giorgio 53.5 Khalander 3; Lucifer 53 Upadhya 6; Regal Rocket 53 Yasin 7; Grecian Prince 52.5 R. Ahmed 8; Yukon 52 A. P. Singh 10; Aiberni 50.5 C. Alford 4.

1. Cool Quest (3) 2. Aiberni (10) 3. Kargil Soldier (2)

5. Royal Double Cup 1,400m (Cl II; Rt 66-94) 4 pm: Argolis 60 (Withdrawn); Anokato 58 Upadhya 6; Immaculate 58 Merchant 9; Cup of Life 57.5 C. Alford 14; Illustrious Reign 56.5 Brij S. 12; Endless Surprise 56 Islam 4; Revolution 56 Smith 8; Scarlet Raider 55.5 Asghar 2; Sky Command 55 Shanker 7; Arctic Fancy 54.5 Salam 1; Discomatic 54 Gurang 10; Regency Times 53.5 Yasin 11; Winning Glory 53 I. Chisty 13; No Regrets 52.5 M. Reuben 5; Rescue Act 49.5 Rabani 3.

1. Regency Times (12) 2. Immaculate (3) 3. Rescue Act (15)

6. Favorite Handicap 1,200m (Cl V; Rt 00-28) 4.35 pm: Asprey 60.5 Upadhya 1; Royal Ruler 60 Rutherford 4; Ever So Loyal 59 Rabani 10; Crest Star 57.5 Yasin 6; Global Harmony 57.5 Yacoob 12; Darth Vader 57 Gajender 9; Floral Path 57 Islam 3; Tsaynen Blue 55.5 Smith 8; Iron Warrior 55 Engineer 5; Heaven�s Blessing 54.5 A. P. Singh 11; Flinders 54 Brij S. 13; Kyalami 53 M. Reuben 14; Don Vittorio 51 Shanker 7; Keep The Faith 50 I. Chisty 2.

1. Crest Star (4) 2. Ever So Loyal (3) 3. Don Vittorio (13)

Day�s Best: Royal Command

Double: Prince of Fashion & Cool Quest.

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