Teetering on the Laxman-rekha
Calcutta winger in Indian squad
In The City
Udhagamandalam Races/Viking may come good

Calcutta, May 14: 
The in-form V.V.S. Laxman doesn�t feature in the team thinktank�s preferred squad for the up-coming ODIs against the West Indies.

The five-match series begins in Kingston on May 25.

According to The Telegraph�s sources, Laxman�s omission (from the list faxed to the Board, ahead of Wednesday�s selection meeting in Mumbai) has �much to do� with preparing for the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.

So, unless Chandu Borde and his colleagues (Madanlal, Shivlal Yadav, Ashok Malhotra and Sanjay Jagdale) ignore the thinktank�s wishes, there actually will be a surprise --- in the form of Laxman�s exclusion --- when the 15-strong squad is announced.

If not anything else, the thinktank has ensured a �heated� debate among the selectors. Significantly, quite a few are Laxman admirers.

Despite doing nothing of note, on tour, Sanjay Bangar (as of now) stands to gain. Obviously, the thinktank is convinced he can play a role in the World Cup and, so, should be given as many opportunities as possible.

In effect, then, planning for the World Cup will begin with the up-coming series in the West Indies.

Laxman, of course, hasn�t been a regular in the ODIs. In fact, he was dropped for the last three games versus England, earlier this year. He was recalled for the five ODIs against Zimbabwe, but didn�t have meaningful contributions after the first two matches (75 and 52).

With Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif sure to make it, captain Sourav Ganguly and coach John Wright will, in any case, have a problem of plenty. Clearly, everybody can�t be accommodated in the XI � yet another factor which must have influenced the Laxman-specific decision.

Given Laxman�s seniority, if he can�t be slotted, it probably does make sense not to have him at all. On the other hand, the form-player bit is there as well�

Incidentally, the thinktank�s squad has eight batsmen: The captain himself, vice-captain Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sehwag, Dinesh Mongia, Yuvraj, Kaif and Bangar.

Meanwhile, the thinktank has formally asked for Murali Kartik, who will take the berth reserved for Anil Kumble. The second spinner will be Harbhajan Singh.

Kartik, by the way, is currently with the A squad in Sri Lanka. Despite being short on experience, Wright, for one, rates him pretty highly.

Where the quicks are concerned, Jawagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan will stay on. However, there�s a question mark over Ashish Nehra.

Apparently, the thinktank is keen that Nehra be �rested� for the tour of England. If the selectors play ball, then Nehra will return after the Test series (ending May 22) and Tinu Yohannan will stay back.

Indications late Tuesday were that the selectors could go along with the thinktank�s views.

As one of the selectors put it: �Giving Nehra a break won�t be a bad idea� After all, he fits into that handle-with-care category��

The fourth specialist quick will be Ajit Agarkar, who wasn�t picked for the Test series.

Predictably, the sole wicketkeeper�s slot will go to Ajay Ratra � this was informally decided well before his outstanding hundred in the Antigua Test.


New Delhi, May 14: 
Several fringe players and newcomers figure in the 18-member Indian hockey team for a four-nation tournament in Australia to be played from May 30 to June 9.

The squad includes Railways left-winger Iqbal Singh, who hails from Calcutta and has spent a major part of his career playing for Port Trust in the BHA League.

Baljit Singh Dhillon and Dhanraj Pillay were not included in the camp. Pillay and former junior international Len Ayappa are playing for clubs in Malaysia.

The Calcutta-born Baljit Singh Saini was also not present in Rajinder Singh�s squad and the coach said he wanted to experiment with newcomers. Dileep Tirkey will lead the team.

A major omission is defender Kanwalapreet Singh who played in the Kuala Lumpur World Cup. His place went to Tamil Nadu veteran Dinesh Nayak.

Junior World Cup captain Gagan Ajit Singh was back in the squad along with former international Sameer Dad in the forward line.

Among midfielders, Bimal Lakra, Viren Rasquinha and Vikram Pillay, all reserves in the World Cup, were also called up. A newcomer to the senior national squad is junior internationals Tejbir Singh of Punjab.


Goalkeepers: Devesh Chauhan, Bharat Chetri. Full-backs: Dileep Tirkey (captain), Dinesh Nayak, Jugraj Singh. Half-backs: S.S. Gill, Viren Rasquinha, Bimal Lakra, Vikram Pillay, Prabodh Tirkey, Ignace Tirkey. Forwards: Gagan Ajit Singh, Daljit Singh Dhillon, Tejbir Singh, Samer Dad, Deepak Thakur, Prabhjot Singh, Iqbal Singh. Chief coach: Rajinder Singh.


May 14: 

Quit-pro-quo at Mohun Bagan

There is either a huge communication failure between Mohun Bagan officials, or it is simply another stunt. On Tuesday the club�s football secretary Debashish Dutta quit his post, ostensibly because coach Subrata Bhattacharya had criticised the obtuse state of affairs in the team-forming of the club. Though he mentioned �personal reasons� in his resignation letter to the secretary, Dutta told reporters later that Bhattacharya�s criticism had �hurt him�.

�We do not have the funds and it is obvious that we will not be able to retain the champion team,� Dutta said.

Incidentally, the impasse obviously has a great deal to do with the secretary�s initial weird decision of not making a team this year till his rivals withdrew a court case. The secretary has now called an executive committee meeting Wednesday to �discuss� the issue.

Norinco win big

Norinco thrashed Indian Aluminium 5-0 in a Telegraph Merchant�s Cup match at the CCFC ground Tuesday.

Results: Norinco 5 Indi an Aluminium 0; The Taj 3 Price Water House Coopers 0; Bharat Petroleum 4 Blue Star 3; Jet Air ways 0 Bata India Ltd 0; KQ School Advantage 0 Usha Mar tin 0; Citicorp 1 Confrieght Ship ping 1; INFAR 5 HTA 1; ITC In fotech 2 Madhya Bharat Papers 1; Selvel A 5 J Thomas 1; Tata B 1 Apeejay Surrendra Group 1; Bayview Technologies 2 Magors 1; Tata Tea 3 Digital Think B 1

Sarkar dead

Renowned soccer player of the 1950s and 60s, Nilesh Sarkar(67) breathed his last Tuesday, following severe cerebral attack at his Bally residence. He was known as Hattrick Sarkar in his playing days for his penchant for scoring hattricks. The centre-forward, popular among his fans for his skill and goal-scoring abilities, had played for both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in a career spanning almost a decade. He had also represented the state side. Sarkar is survived by wife and two sons.

Big win for Bagan eves

Mohun Bagan trounced Rampur MS 10-0 in a in a women�s league match Tuesday. Sujata Kar was the top-scorer with three goals while S. Sinha, S. Sapui and G. Devi scored two goals each. B Devi scored the 10th for Bagan. In another match Itika Memorial beat Samannoy by a solitary goal, Tumpa Mondal scoring.

Sub-jr cricket

Mithun Goswami of Sonai MCCC was the stand-out performer on the second day of the Amabar Roy sub-junior cricket tournament Tuesday. He took six wickets for seven runs that helped his team to an easy nine wickets victory.


All the matches of the BHA Group A league were washed out following torrential showers in the afternoon.


FOOTBALL: Telegraph Merchant�s Cup: Transways vs Selvel B, India Foils vs Telegraph Sports, ITC B vs Transworld, The Park vs Eveready Industries (All matches at 7 pm); Allied Domecq vs Assam Co, Marine Container Services vs ICRA, Hyatt Regency vs Eveready Solutions, ITC A vs Seagrams (All matches at 7:30 pm); Airtel vs ABN Amro, Tata A vs O&M, Britannia vs ICICI Bank, BDA vs Volga (IFB Agro) (All matches at 8 pm) Matches at CCFC ground.

Women�s league: Mohun Bagan AC vs Youth Footballer (SAI); Nabajanma vs Bally Gramanchal (Howrah Stadium) All matches at 4 pm

CRICKET: Ambar Roy sub-junior cricket tournament (Eden Gardens)


Udhagamandalam, May 14: 
A good second in his recent start, the Robert Foley-trained Viking is strongly fancied to win the 1,400m Kang-eyam Plate at the Udhagamandalam races on Wednesday. Kariappa partners the six-year-old gelding.


11.30 am: Star Pride 1. The Royals 2. Great Pasha 3.
12 noon: Signal Tap 1. Family Fortune 2. Unaproachable 3.
12.30 pm: Golden River 1. Northern Premier 2. Kylin 3.
1 pm: Spirito 1. Secret of Success 2. Splendid Pride 3.
1.30 pm: Viking 1. Sterling Fantasy 2. De Quest 3.
2 pm: Amazing Crown 1. Calypso Run 2. Regal Patriarch 3.
2.30 pm: Arctic Charmer 1. Direct Hit 2. Head Hunter 3.
3 pm: Bourbon Boy 1. Octogonal 2. Icelandic Hope 3.
3.30 pm: Regal Crest 1. Stary Way 2. Global Affair 3.

Day�s Best: Star Pride

Double: Spirito & Viking.

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