Bagan struggle to 2-1 victory
Barreto silent about future
I didn�t expect it to be so close: Bhattacharya
Depleted EB wary of Punjab Police
Good chance, but not best: Pataudi
East retain squad
Varsha bags a double
CESC whip CLW 5-0
Mumbai Racing/ Romantic Heights may surprise
Mumbai Racing/ Star Magic romps home

Calcutta, April 6: 
Mohun Bagan 2
Tollygunge 1

A minor irritation turned out to be major trouble for Mohun Bagan at the Salt Lake Stadium today. While victory was never really the point of pre-match debate in their National Football League tie versus Tollygunge Agragami, it was defeat that coach Subrata Bhattacharya was wrestling to evade, 28 minutes after kick-off as Sasthi Duley put the underdogs ahead.

Jose Ramirez Barreto steadied heartbeats with the equaliser and his 13th goal in the 38th minute, while unconventional substitute Uday Konar surprised all by booting home the winner five minutes from time. A good many fingernails had been chewed to raw skin by then.

It was truly a skin-of-the-teeth win for the title aspirants, a victory that put them back again at the top, with 41 points from 20 matches, two ahead now of overnight leaders Churchill Brothers.

The simple equation for Mohun Bagan now would be wins versus Salgaocar and Churchill brothers, both away. However, stretched a bit, a victory over Salgaocar could even ensure for Mohun Bagan the title with just a draw with Churchill. That is the outcome of a two-point cushion.

There were those oddities in the Mohun Bagan line-up from the start; oddities that almost made a disaster of their last home League match. Basudeb Mondal�s absence in the half line had robbed it of direction, and pushing back Debjit Ghosh yet again to defence was definitely not a very bright idea.

Midfield clay-footers received little forward momentum and Debjit�s defensive isolation meant offence wouldn�t be Mohun Bagan�s defence in mufti. But Debjit did try. In the fifth minute, Barreto lost a try at the rival goalmouth even with Tollygunge goalkeeper Amit Singha Roy out of charge and an overlapping Debjit was around to head when the ball flew loose. The crosspiece interfered, though.

If Tollygunge had a gameplan, it was definitely not evident. They learned on the job, and learned fast. Manpower was used up in marking Barreto and Abdulateef Seriki, so all they could afford were counter-attacks. This they found was a rather usable tool, really, what with the Mohun Bagan defence on unsure ground.

As play gravitated towards aimless midfield ramblings, that defence lost any sense of urgency that it might have had. When Subhasis Roy Chowdhury shinnied up the flank nobody noticed, and when he passed to Akeem Abulanle, nobody reacted. When Duley finally got in touch Dulal Biswas was too slow to react and Debjit stumbled. It would have been difficult for Duley not to shoot home.

So Mohun Bagan fell back on Mr Dependable, Barreto. When Rennedy Singh whipped one goalwards off a melee, the crosspiece sent it back, but the Brazilian�s natural anticipation had brought him to from where he could home it off a flying header.

The popularity of Barreto was evident in a small kid running in and draping Barreto with a green-maroon jersey.

One expected some Mohun Bagan fireworks in the second half, but there was enough on either side instead. In the fifth minute a Barreto-Seriki combination resulted in a lapse of concentration, followed by a 50-yard unchallenged solo run by Akeem, finally shooting a left-footed grounder just off the far post. An Ashim Biswas shot was inches off target, a Seriki header went just over and it would have stayed a stalemate had Barreto not tapped one centre to the goalmouth and substitute Konar not volleyed it in.

Brows were sweaty by then, and not for the natural heat and humidity.


MOHUN BAGAN: Rajat Ghosh Dastidar, Dulal Biswas, Hussain Mustafi (Sumit Sengupta, 78), Debjit Ghosh, Rishi Kapoor, James Singh (RC Prakash, 26; Uday Konar, 67), R.P. Singh, Amouri da Silva, Rennedy Singh, Abdulateef Seriki, Jose Ramirez Barreto.

TOLLYGUNGE AGRAGAMI: Amit Singha Roy, Reaj-ul Mustafa, Debkumar Sasmal, Satish Bharti, Amitava Chanda (Biswanath Mondal, 75), Srikrishna Ghosh (Uttam Debnath, 46), Subhashish Roy Chowdhury, Moses Owira, Sasthi Duley, Ashim Biswas, Akeem Abulanle.

Referee: Mushtaq Pasha (Karnataka).


Calcutta, April 6: 
Jose Ramirez Barreto of Mohun Bagan isn�t sure yet, where he would land up. He isn�t sure if this was his last match in Calcutta, but he is sure he will retain nuggets of rather precious memories from his days on the Calcutta Maidan.

�I am not sure if this is the final match, actually I have only concentrated on the league and that is not over,� he said, after his team�s National Football League win over Tollygunge Agragami at the Salt Lake Stadium today.

�I can say I feel good for the friends I have made, and for the good players I have been able to play with here�� Mohun Bagan travel to Goa for their last matches this year, a knock away from their third crown.

So how does he feel about himself? Is he at his peak, or is more possible from this classy Brazilian? �Well, let�s say I have been playing with a good team, one of the best teams of the country, and with very good players. I have excelled here means I have played well, but I cannot say for sure this is my best.�

As he went about unwrapping the crepe bandage, he tried to manage a smile, but the heat and the din of supporters in victory made it rather thin. �I will have to finish what I am at now,� he said. �Wherever I go, I will have to treat it as a serious job and work accordingly.�

Barreto is trying to push his luck in some European league.

Salgaocar meet FCK

Salgaocar are desperate for a win against FC Kochin (FCK) here tomorrow to keep alive their hopes of regaining the title, reports PTI from Kochi. Salgaocar, with 35 points are clear favourites though FC K, with 14 have the home advantage.

AIFF penalties

In Margao, the All India Football Federation disciplinary committee fined the local organisation committees of Calcutta, Goa and Bangalore Rs 15,000 each for their failure to stop incidents of crowd violence during the League . The AIFF also fined Mahindra United�s Isa Musah Eroje, East Bengal�s Suley Musah Rs 10,000 each and Churchill�s Somatai Shaiza Rs 5,000 for misdemeanours.


Calcutta, April 6: 
�Phew, a victory was what I needed and that�s what I got,� said a visibly relieved Mohun Bagan coach Subrata Bhattacharya, after his team scraped past Tollygunge Agragami at the Salt Lake Stadium today. His only objective was victory, �whichever way�.

And this wild guess of introducing Uday Konar? It clicked? �Clicked? When I do it, it becomes a chance thing, for another coach, probably it will be his magic touch?� Bhattacharya himself did not sound too convinced on that. The problem with the defence remains. �What can I do? I do not have a Carlos Alberto on my team. I will have to make do with what I have in Goa. Yes, it will be tough, but��

He conceded that this was too close a match for him. �I did not expect it to be so close,� he said. �I was planning strategy, but at the back of my mind I knew all would have to be done by the players. I am happy we finally could make it. It has boosted our confidence.�

At this point the coach said he worried over the eight bookings that his team is carrying. �Good we did not pick any booking today, but I am not sure about the refereeing when we are in Goa,� he said.


Calcutta, April 6: 
East Bengal have no hope of winning the title. Their coach threw in the towel a few days ago. Despite this, the boys motivated themselves to a 5-1 thrashing of Tollygunge Agragami last Thursday. If East Bengal dish out the same fare tomorrow, beating Punjab Police wouldn�t be a problem.

With arch-rivals Mohun Bagan maintaining their strong position in the title race, East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick says, �Now that the top three positions are out of bounds, we�ll go for No 4.� Incidentally, for a team in seventh position with 29 points from 19 matches, even this aim will take some doing to achieve.

The policemen are now languishing at the very bottom with a mere nine points from 19 outings. They have, in fact, won just two matches this season, drawn three and lost 14. They managed to draw their last assignment against JCT.

East Bengal, on the other hand, are on a roll. High on motivation they may be, but their side tomorrow seems hugely depleted. Their international defender Dipak Mondal is out with a red card, and will either be replaced by Ranjan Dey or Shankarlal Chakraborty. �I haven�t decided who�ll replace Dipak, I am still toying with the idea,� the coach said. Playmaker Dipankar Roy is booked out too. Isiaka Awoyemi, Tushar Rakshit, Jo Paul Ancheri and Anit Ghosh are injured. �I have no idea how I am going to form the team, there�s almost nobody. But I am not considering it to be a problem,� Bhowmick said today. �Moreover any team that is struggling is a dangerous team and I am giving a lot of importance to Punjab Police tomorrow. We�ll go all out for a win,� he added.

Dipendu Biswas, who was show-caused yesterday, has apologised to the club and also to the coach, personally. �He will be considered tomorrow,� Bhowmick said.


Calcutta, April 6: 
Former captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi is largely in sync with the upbeat mood within India�s cricket fraternity, but isn�t really going overboard.

�I quite agree we�ve got a good chance against the West Indies. However, I wouldn�t say it�s our best chance of winning overseas (outside the sub-continent) after 16 years,� Pataudi told The Telegraph.

Speaking from his New Delhi residence, he added: �Man-to-man, we will be superior to the best the West Indies can muster. At the same time, we�ve got to play as a team. That�s the all-important bottomline.�

Pataudi continued: �This isn�t the first team to have left India with a high rating. If expectations aren�t again to be belied, then if one fails, the other must deliver� There�s got to be that sense of responsibility��

Incidentally, it was in the West Indies, 40 years ago, that Pataudi himself had to shoulder so much responsibility: Moving into the �hot seat� after Nari Contractor was struck on the head (in Bridgetown) by the fiery Charlie Griffith.

Pataudi was then just past his 21st birthday and, even today, remains the youngest-ever national captain anywhere. Many revere him as India�s finest.

Because of the unprecedented result, India�s 1970-71 tour of the West Indies (under Ajit Wadekar) keeps getting recounted. Yet, the most fascinating series between the two surely remains the one in India, 1974-75. Pataudi was captain in four of those five Tests.

Specifically on captaincy, though, Pataudi declined to say much. �By now, Sourav Ganguly must have understood the importance of leading from the front� In any case, being an away-series, he should be under less pressure��

Much is being made of the wickets having become appreciably slower, and that Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh may have a ball. Pataudi, however, had an interesting observation.

�Well, the West Indies XI will have quite a few left-handers and Kumble, in particular, hasn�t ever been very happy bowling to southpaws. Then, Harbhajan isn�t specially fond of experimenting against them. So��

Now that the tour-opener has got underway, with Deep Dasgupta finding a place as opener-cum-wicketkeeper, Ajay Ratra will probably have to wait for his maiden Test cap.

In Pataudi�s opinion, though, the �best� wicketkeeper should be fielded.

�I recall Budhi Kunderan, with a 192 as opener, batted at No. 9 versus the West Indies (Bombay, 1966-67) and we still scored under 300 in the first innings. If your specialist batsmen can�t get the runs, somebody playing a dual role won�t either� Don�t we have enough specialist batsmen?�

The other point Pataudi made was that smugness shouldn�t take root.

�While the West Indies� performances haven�t of late been inspiring, I believe they are working hard to raise the standard and, so, could hit hard� We�ve got to be prepared.�

Asked whether Sir Gary Sobers� presence during the recent conditioning camp (in Port of Spain) could actually make a difference, Pataudi answered in the affirmative.

�At times, the current generation needs to be reminded about the cricket heritage� The traditions� It�s on such occasions that an icon can make a difference� Can get the juices going� As for the West Indies, they couldn�t have got anybody better to dwell, among other things, on an obviously rich past.�

[It�s another matter that the BCCI, for one, hasn�t ever thought of getting Sourav and the rest to interact with somebody of Pataudi�s stature. In fact, even when he briefly visited the NCA last year, the initiative was his. �If approached, I�ll do what I can,� Pataudi promised.]

Incidentally, without fully endorsing Kapil Dev�s views on the present-day cricketers� commitment, Pataudi did talk of the need to consistently exude a �winning attitude.�

�Any shortcoming there is usually related to a lack of discipline� Frankly, our team is too good to repeatedly falter and not convert advantageous positions into winning ones��

A Nawabi sign-off that.


Calcutta, April 6: 
The selectors today announced an unchanged East Zone squad for the Duleep Trophy match against West Zone beginning at the Eden Gardens from Tuesday

The West Zone team is expected to arrive in town tomorrow evening.

East Zone have 14 points from three matches. West are leading the table with 21 points after three matches.

Rajasthan in final

Rajasthan today entered the final of the CAB senior division league with a nine-wicket win over Eastern Railways. Afzaal Siddique made an unbeaten 125 and Sanjay Agarwal 74.


Eastern Railways 216. Rajasthan Club 217/1 (Afzaal Siddiqui 125 n.o., Sanjay Agarwal 74). Rajasthan won by 9 wkts.


Calcutta, April 6: 
Assam girl Varsha Dutta won a double crown at the Cosmo Open mini/sub-junior tennis championships today.

Varsha lifted the girls� under-16 title beating local girl Shivika Burman 6-3, 6-2.

In the under-14 final, she accounted for Karina Ahuja, another local girl, 6-2, 7-5.

The boy�s under-16 crown was captured by second seed Rupesh Roy who saw off top seed Sabyasachi Bose 6-4, 6-2. The under-14 event was also won by the second seed, at the top seed�s expense, when Karan Dhillon saw off Assam�s Kaushik Das 6-2, 6-4. The Amit Chaturvedi Trophy for the most improved player was awarded to Prem Singh.


Calcutta, April 6: 
CESC walloped CLW Sporting Association 5-0 in first division group A action of the BHA League today. Albert Tete, Anil Maity, Anil Ekka, Gurjeet Singh and Raju Rajbhar scored for the defending champions.

In another group A match, Calcutta Port Trust and SAI Training Centre drew goalless. The group B tie between Baranagore SC and Sporting Union also finished 0-0.


Mumbai, April 6: 
Romantic Heights has the potential to land the 1,200m Gool S. Poonawalla Million, the last of the major juvenile events to be held at the Mumbai races on Sunday. Although the Diffident-Menorah filly had placed a poor fourth behind Priceless in the 1,400m Million race, the present trip and her subsequent improvement may work to the advantage of the Altaf Hussain-trained filly who will be partnered by Aslam Kader.


2.30 pm: Accademia 1. Narrator 2. Tarascon 3.

3 pm: Allianz 1. Avantage 2.

3.45 pm: Rambus 1. Consortium 2.

4.15 pm: Moment of Pleasure 1. Crown Affair 2. Star Status 3.

4.45 pm: Romantic Heights 1. Premium Classe 2.Blushing Minstrel 3.

5.30 pm: Sky Raider 1. Track Fury 2. Forgotten Dreams 3.

6 pm: Loving You 1. Mia Senora 2. Egalit�e 3.

Day�s Best: Accademia

Double: Rambus & Romantic Heights


The 4-10 hot-favourite Star Magic justified his short odds as he romped home with the 1,600m Greater Mumbai Police Trophy, the main event at the Mumbai races held on Saturday. Y. Srinath partnered the Bezan Chenoy-trained four-year-old by Alnasr Alwas-heek out of Moonlight Magic.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Portrait Attachment Plate 1,000m: (5-1-2) Magical Beauty (Ruzaan) 1; Silver Line 2; Courageous 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 1-1/2; (1-1.9). Tote: Win Rs 53; Place: 14; 13; 19; Quinella: 56; Tanala: 514. Fav: Silver Line (1).

2. Bay Beauty Plate 1,400m: (2-1-4) Classy Devil (Srinath) 1; Adolfito 2; Twin Star 3. Won by: Hd; SH; (1-26.9). Tote: Win Rs 30; Place: 14; 12; 14; Quinella: 28; Tanala: 133. Fav: Adolfito (1).

3. Trocadero Plate 1,400m: (2-6-5) Big Blaze (Rajendra) 1; I�m Honoured 2; Bon Apetit 3. Won by: 2-1/2; 1-1/2; (1-26.9). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 10; 26; 27; Quinella: 112; Tanala: 600. Fav: Big Blaze (2).

4. Greater Mumbai Police Trophy 1,600m: (6-3-1) Star Magic (Srinath) 1; Battle Star 2; Aureus 3. Won by: 1-3/4; Nk; (1-39.8). Tote: Win Rs 13; Place: 11; 19; 12; Quinella: 34; Tanala: 85. Fav: Star Magic (6).

5. Martell Maiden 1,200m: (1-9-8) Aerospace (M. Narredu) 1; Jukebox 2; Ippodamia 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 2; (1-13.6). Tote: Win Rs 30; Place: 15; 21; 19; Quinella: 97; Tanala: 496. Fav: Enchante (6).

6. Aintree Racecourse Sprint Trophy 1,200m: (10-6-9) Star of Attention (Rupesh) 1; Bud Royale 2; Maratha Princess 3. Not run: Prince Shazaan (13). Won by: Hd; Hd; (1-13.3). Tote: Win Rs 235; Place: 65; 36; 21; Quinella: 1,276; Tanala: 24,718. Fav: Reconquista (7).

7. Suleman Pasha Plate 1,000m: (6-4-12) Think of Us (M. Narredu) 1; Touch Wood 2; Sakshi 3. Won by: 3-3/4; 3/4 (1-0.3). Tote: Win Rs 63; Place: 21; 24; 52; Quinella: 421; Tanala: 6,833. Fav: Spring Time (7).

8. Rajya Ratna M. C. Patel Plate 1,400m: (13-6-11) Proud Moment (Chauhan) 1; Rigged For Revenge 2; Swift And Silent 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 1/2; (1-28.5). Tote: Win Rs 89; Place: 28; 22; 19; Quinella: 641; Tanala: 3,420. Fav: Rigged For Revenge (6).

Jackpot: Rs 28,055; (C) Rs 967.

Treble: (i) Rs 247; (ii) Rs 60; (iii) Rs 7,432.


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