Heart says Brazil, not head
WI to play 3 Tests, 7 ODIs
Bagan draw Lanka club
Mysore Racing/ Classy Babe easily claims main event easily

June 20: 
The World Cup is approaching the home stretch and the fall of several top teams suggests it�s unwise to predict which way the title will tilt. Commentators are saying this edition of the competition has witnessed more upsets than in all the previous editions taken together and figures don�t contradict this. Another notion gaining ground says the game�s power-centres are shifting. The exit of France and Italy and the presence of four non-European teams in the last eight have led to this speculation, but for the moment, we will not debate this and focus on the action to come.

There has been plenty to believe that an attempt to predict may prove disastrous, but still, an analysis of the quarter-finalists� progress indicates a lot. The yardsticks are defensive organisation, mobility in midfield, attacking and finishing prowess and co-ordination between these departments.

Difference in fitness and endurance between teams at this stage is negligible and the one quickest in mobilising resources will hold the edge. There will always be the incalculable factors like weather and supervision, but the determining factors are likely to come from the yardsticks mentioned above.

England vs Brazil

England have been one of the most impressive teams and tactical discipline and neatness in executing a simple plan make them an allround side. Sven-Goran Eriksson has drilled in the importance of playing within limitations and found the right players for each position. Their defence is the best seen in this tournament and they have a reliable goalkeeper. In midfield, they are not too intimidating but their defensive activity in that region is better than Brazil�s. They soak a lot of pressure before the ball reaches their defensive third, which reduces the burden on the back four. David Beckham hasn�t been as effective as he is known to be, but the strikers have still had the supply. The flanks have been kept alive by the side-backs, and there is Michael Owen, who is capable of making the difference between teams.

Ronaldo and Rivaldo mean Brazil are miles ahead of England in striking ability but the vulnerability deep down threatens to undo their exploits. Brazil�s marking and clearing against Belgium was below par.

The defensive prowess of their medios is far from convincing and though goalkeeper Marcos kept Belgium from scoring, you don�t always come out unscathed despite being so error-prone. Brazil�s chances depend on the R duo and Ronaldinho seems to be the ideal choice as third attacker. Elsewhere, too many holes remain to be plugged. The heart favours Brazil, but mind suggests it�s advantage England.

Germany vs US

The US have looked organised and stuck to a safety first plan, which is unlikely to be any different against Germany. A healthy conversion rate on the counterattacks has brought them this far, but the chance to finish will not be easy to come by against the battle-hardened Germans. Rudi Voeller�s team has moved up quietly after a rousing start and their strength lies in midfield. They are likely to press for control of that region again and the US will err if they try do defend from the rear. The German midfielders operate in the classical style, playing long passes, occupying well-defined positions, but they also offer open space in the centre, which the US will look to exploit. Germany start favourites as they are faster and can gradually wade into the opponent.

Spain vs South Korea

The Spaniards are ahead of South Korea in attacking ammunition, experience in defence but the co-hosts are better in midfield co-ordination. The feature of their game is their ability to outnumber the opposition around the ball and it has been possible because of mobility in the middle-third. South Korea don�t operate at great speed but regroup in a flash, which makes them dangerous. Spain, on the other hand, have not been able to keep the opposition under as much pressure as their attacking finesse should, which became clear during their struggle against Ireland. It may sound outrageous, but Spain�s tendency to let the opposition the chance to come at them gives South Korea a thin edge.

Senegal vs Turkey

Turkey look superior in defensive organisation and there is muscle in their midfield. Senegal are ahead in attacking variety but will find it difficult to find open space and would do well to start on a cautious note, as they had against France. Turkey are a fiercely determined side, ruthless in punishing any error caused by lapse in concentration. It�ll be a tense match with no clear favourites to begin with.


Calcutta, June 20: 
The West Indies will play three Tests and seven one-day Internationals in India instead of five Tests and five one-dayers. The decision was taken by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in consultation with the West Indies Cricket Board, keeping in mind the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.

BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya said on Thursday that the West Indies tour to India will stretch from October 1 to November 24, during which the visitors will also play two first class games.

The three Tests will be played in Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta.India will then tour New Zealand where they will play two Tests and seven one-dayers. The team will be back in India on January 16 and will get a 15-day lay-off before they leave for the World Cup.

Meanwhile, Dalmiya also informed that the BCCI will introduce a gradation system for the umpires and a crash programme to improve the standards. It is learnt that the board wants to have two grades A and B, and the umpires will be relegated and promoted on the basis of their performance. �The BCCI will also take measures to streamline the Match Referees duties,� the president added.

The working committee has decided to host a separate tournament for associate members like Manipur and Sikkim. The Board is also planning to introduce a separate summer day-and-night tournament featuring teams from the corporate sector.


Calcutta, June 20: 
Mohun Bagan have been drawn against Sri Lankan club Sunderland in the first round of the Asian Club Championship. It will be a home-and-away affair with Bagan opening their campaign on August 13.

East Bengal pull out

East Bengal have decided to pull out of the invitation tournament in Bangladesh starting July 2. The decision was taken following the unavailability of a number of players who will be away at national camp.

Wari win

Wari edged out Howrah Union 1-0 in a first division Group A match Thursday. A. Das scored the winner. In another matches, West Bengal Police defeated Sonali Shibir 1-0 via Jayanta Roy, while CFC-Calcutta Customs ended goalless.

Today in Sport

SOCCER: First division Group A matches from 3:30 pm    

Mysore, June 20: 
On an afternoon completely ruled by unfancied winners, jockey A. Imran Khan followed the day�s trend and guided Classy Babe to an easy victory in the 1,100m the Bol Publication Trophy, the main event at the Mysore races held on Thursday. R. Shanker saddled the three-year-old filly by Dahyah out of Travetino.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Alakananda Stakes 1,100m: (4-1-5) Atlantic Star (Rokade) 1; Skipping Away 2; Royal Satsuma 3. Won by: 1/2; 1-1/4; (1-10.2). Tote: Win Rs 160; Place: 54; 29; Quinella: 310; Shp: 44; Tanala: 1,183. Fav: Royal Satsuma (5).

2. Ganjam Stakes 1,200m: (2-4-3) Octane (Harish) 1; Guernica 2; Commissioner 3. Not run: Princ-ely Living (6). Won by: 3/4; 6-1/4; (1-18). Tote: Win Rs 65; Place: 16; 10; 14; Quinella: 51; Shp: 41; Tanala: 329. Fav: Guernica (4).

3. Ramanagar Stakes 1,200m: (3-7-1) Pride Estates (Wasim) 1; King�s Star 2; Joe The Pro 3. Won by: 1/2; 1-1/2; (1-17.2). Tote: Win Rs 151; Place: 33; 15; 10; Quinella: 141; Shp: 32; Tanala: 749. Fav: Joe The Pro (1).

4. Bol Publication Trophy 1,100m: (5-6-7) Classy Babe (A. Imran) 1; Up-N-About 2; Sizzling Beauty 3. Not run: Classic Polo (2). Won by: 4; SH; (1-12). Tote: Win Rs 73; Pla-ce: 31; 25; Quinella: 108; Shp: 30; Tanala: 649. Fav: Sunny Sharp (3).

5. Sargur Stakes 1,400m: (3-2-7) Royale Incarnate (R. Marshall) 1; Jersey Lightning 2; Fereneze 3. Not run: Lali (9). Won by: 2-1/4; 2-1/4; (1-33.3). Tote: Win Rs 42; Place: 14; 37; 16; Quinella: 319; Shp: 146; Tanala: 952. Fav: Fereneze (9).

6. Birthday Girl Stakes 1,400m: (8-9-7) Righteous (Sharat K.) 1; Deion 2; Sirrgaa 3. Won by: 3/4; 4-1/2; (1-34.4). Tote: Win Rs 73; Place: 19; 37; 25; Quinella: 242; Shp: 87; Tanala: 3,587. Fav: Roman Flame (5).

Jackpot: Rs 54,220 (Carrier over).

Treble: (i) Rs 10,956; (ii) Rs 2,344.


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