�Classy� Laxman keeps skipper�s faith
India Foils win big
Calcutta Racing/ Rutherford bags �bronze� in Macau sprint
Udhagamandalam Racing/ My King wins Nilgiris Derby

Jaipur, May 12: 
It�s a small matter of class. Yet, it makes a big difference. Some appreciate that, others don�t.

A combination of factors � from heavy expectations to a knee problem, which necessitated surgery to poor shot selection � ensured V. V. S. Laxman took as many as 19 innings and 14 months to post his first three-figure knock since that out-of-this-world 281 at the Eden Gardens.

Laxman, of course, never offered excuses (�I can only blame myself...�). Only, at different times along the way, quite a few lost faith in Laxman. Not so Sourav Ganguly.

At the Antigua Recreation Ground on Saturday, then, the captain must have been as pleased as Laxman.

While that match-winning 281 (the highest individual score by any Indian) made everybody look at Laxman differently, the captain had been according him the highest rating well before that Test against Australia.

In fact, back in November 2000, on th e eve of the one-off Test in Dhaka, Sourav candidly told The Telegraph �it was painful� omitting �somebody of Laxman�s class�. With there being no vacancy in the middle-order, Sourav suggested Laxman open (with Sadagopan Ramesh). Laxman, however, declined.

�I�ve never been comfortable opening... So, if I can�t be slotted in the middle, I�ll prefer to sit out,� is what Laxman is understood to have informed the captain. As it turned out, that paved the way for Shiv Sundar Das� first cap.

To his credit, Laxman has stood firm on not opening, even if that entails his not being selected. Equally, the captain has always had a role for him.

Indeed, when the national selectors wanted to drop Laxman in the Nagpur Test, earlier this year, it�s Sourav who put his foot down. �He�s just too classy to be made to sit out,� is the point Sourav made, obviously with conviction. It helped that coach John Wright, too, pressed for the wristy Hyderabadi.

Laxman, though, scored only 13 in the only Indian innings and with the next Test being on Virender Sehwag�s home ground (Delhi), it became difficult even for Sourav to retain Laxman. Being dropped would surely have taught Laxman a thing or two.

The first Test (Georgetown) of the on-going series, therefore, was a comeback game for Laxman. And, well, he played his part neatly � authoring 69 at a very difficult time. His scores in the next two Tests (Port-of-Spain and Bridgetown) were 69 and 74, 1 and 43. It was a matter of time before the fifty-plus scores got converted into three-figures.

Significantly, though Rahul Dravid got a superb hundred in Georgetown and Sachin Tendulkar posted one in Port-of-Spain, Sourav saluted Laxman as the �best batsman (on tour)� ahead of what turned out be a disastrous outing in Bridgetown.

On Saturday, Laxman vindicated his captain once again.

Speaking exclusively, not too long ago, Laxman had singled out Matthew Hayden as the one contemporary (besides Sachin) whom he admired.

Specifically, he spoke of Hayden emerging �stronger and stronger� after that phenomenal outing (549 runs in the three-Test series) against India.

It wouldn�t surprise if Hayden has kind words for Laxman, specially his high-on-quality �comeback� in the West Indies.

With three (Tests) innings remaining he has already totalled 386 runs.


Calcutta, May 12: 
India Foils, Jet Airways and BDA won their matches on Sunday in The Telegraph Merchants� Cup football tournament at the CC&FC with identical 6-0 margins.


Sanjeevani Projects 2 McNally Bharat 0, Hong Kong Bank 3 Berger Paints 1, VGP Portfolio 3 Sony India 0, Carritt Moran 2 Tata Consultancy Services 0, IISCO 4 Telegraph Metro 1, Digital Think A 3 ACCEL ICIM 2, Magma Leasing 1 HDFC Bank 0, CA TCG Software 2 Tata Power 1, The Park 3 ICICI Bank 1, Hyatt Regency 2 Volga (IFB Agro) 0, Britannia 1 Skytech Solutions 1, Transways 4 ITC B 0, TISCO A 1 Transworld 1, Selvel B 2 Telegraph Sports 0, Allied Domecq 2 ITC A 1, Seagrams 4 Marine Container Services 0, Airtel 3 ICRA 1, ABN AMRO 3 Assam Company 1, Bata India 1 Price Waterhouse Coopers 0, The Taj 3 Bluestar 2, Norinco 0 Bharat Petroleum 0, Selvel A 3 Tata Tea 0, TISCO B 1 Digital Think B 0, Bayview Technologies 3 Apeejay Surrendra 0, J Thomas 1 Magors 1, Usha Martin 4 ITC Infotech 1, Madhya Bharat Papers 5 CitiCorp1, Confreights Shipping 1 INFAR 0, KQ School Advantage 2 HTA 0

Under-19 cricket

Bournvita Cricket Academy won the Mantu Banerjee Memorial under-19 meet at Subhas Sarovar on Sunday, beating Ashok Malhotra Academy.


Ashok Malhotra Academy 116/7 in 25 ovs. Bournvita Cricket Academy 117/5 in 24 (Avishek Chakraborty 22, Deepanjan Mustafi 29 n.o.; Michael Behera 3/19). Bournvita won by 5 wkts.


Calcutta, May 12: 
Displaying his mettle that he was no ordinary among his peers in the world of horseracing, Rutherford Alford astride Deep Green placed third behind Wonderful Life and Castleisland in the 1,200m Macau Apprentice Jockeys Invitation Bowl, the first of the two international meets, held in Macau on Sunday. The champion city apprentice, however, ended up a poor fifth about an hour later in the 1,800m Cup race as the winner, Unbreakable, turned out to be far too superior while winning the race by a shade over six lengths. Incidentally both winners were trained by M. C. Tam.

The city lad was quite contend with the virtual �bronze� that he bagged against his overseas counterparts whom he held very highly in his esteem. Speaking to The Telegraph from his Macau hotel room after the races, Rutherford said: �I�m quite happy with my performance against some of the top apprentices in the world.� On Saturday, Rutherford had spoken very highly about the Thailand apprentice Phatipham Namjoom who claimed the �sprint.� Rutherford also had a word of praise for the second placed boy Nathan Danster from South Africa.

�There was no hard luck story in the sprint and the soft-going is no excuse for not winning it,� admitted Rutherford. The Macau racecourse authorities had declared the �going� as �yielding to soft� following overnight rains. �In the 1,800m race, the winner (Unbreakable) was far too good for the opposition,� said Rutherford. He, however, felt that his fellow apprentices were far too experienced as they regularly practiced and won in Gymkhana meets. Vineet Verma, ceo and secretary RCTC, too, expressed his immense happiness about Rutherford�s feet in the international meet. Rutherford returns to the city on Monday.


Udhagamandalam, May 12: 
Ridden by J. Abraham and trained by Robert Foley the hot-favourite colt My King galloped away with the South India Corporation Nilgiris Derby Stakes in Udhagamandalam on Sunday.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Bangalore Turf Club Trophy 2,000m: (3-2-6) Fairy Gold (Abraham) 1; Lady Ambassador 2; Perfect Parade 3. Won by: Hd; 3; (2-20.3). Tote: Win Rs 30; Place: 25; 16; Quinella: 40; Tanala: 183. Fav: Tiger Groom (5).

2. Sim�s Park Cup, Div-I 1,600m: (5-6-13) Icelandic Hope (Kariappa) 1; Sweet Story 2; Brave Charlie 3. Won by: 6; 1-3/4; (1-43.8). Tote: Win Rs 35; Place: 32; 25; 62; Quinella: 627; Tanala: 5,328. Fav: Icelandic Hope (5).

3. Kumararajah M. A. M. Muthiah Cup 1,400m: (1-3-4) Minstrel Star (Abraham) 1; Lady Gibraltar 2; Resist The Force 3. Won by: 4; 2-1/4; (1-31.1). Tote: Win Rs 33; Place: 12; 18; Quinella: 34; Tanala: 105. Fav: Minstrel Star (1).

4. Mysore Race Club Cup 1,400m: (4-6-5) Signal Tap (Ross) 1; Unaproachable 2; Splendid Gesture 3. Won by: 2; 3-1/2; (1-30). Tote: Win Rs 13; Place: 12; 15; 27; Quinella: 34; Tanala: 318. Fav: Signal Tap (4).

5. South India Corporation Nilgiris Derby Stakes 1,600m: (3-5-6-2) My King (Abraham) 1; Bridal Flower (Mohan) 2; Noble Impulse (Prem) 3; Caesar�s Moment (Rajendra S.) 4. Won by: 2-3/4; 5; 1-3/4; (1-46.7). Tote: Win Rs 11; Place: 11; 19; 12; Quinella: 36; Tanala: 112. Fav: My King (3).

6. Hyderabad Race Club Cup 1,800m: (3-8-4) Imperial Scholar (Abraham) 1; Hong Kong Boy 2; Queen�s Ransom 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 1-1/4; (1-59.8). Tote: Win Rs 15; Place: 13; 21; 22; Quinella: 59; Tanala: 288. Fav: Future Fame (5).

7. Sim�s Park Cup, Div-II 1,600m: (6-9-11) Prodigious (Murugan) 1; Classic Present 2; Double Bubble 3. Won by: 2-1/2; 3/4; (1-45). Tote: Win Rs 327; Place: 74; 54; 18; Quinella: 3,313; Tanala: 18,940. Fav: Great Eastern (1).

8. Turf Authority Cup 1,400m: (12-6-4) Fighting Brave (Ross) 1; Finishing Touch 2; Mountain Memory 3. Won by: 4; 1; (1-29.3). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 13; 16; 22; Quinella: 42; Tanala: 171. Fav: Fighting Brave (12).

9. Sim�s Park Cup, Div-III 1,600m: (4-6-11) Apache Len (Ravinder) 1; Direct Hit 2; Bold Bidder 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 4-1/2; (1-43.5). Tote: Win Rs 27; Place: 13; 53; 30; Quinella: 245; Tanala: 1,378. Fav: Apache Len (4).

Jackpot: Rs 19,642; (C) Rs 706.

Treble: (i) Rs 56; (ii) Rs 26,431.


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