Eighth Column/ No airs about Collina: Shankar
Yuvraj’s vote of confidence for Kaif
New strategy on test
Nandan is sole leader
6-under by Digvijay
In The City
Pune Racing/ Royal Amaretto may strike it rich
Pune Racing/ Exploding Wonder triumphs

Calcutta, July 18: 
Italian Pierluigi Collina’s distinctive bald head, intense grey blue eyes and strong personality instil a sense of awe among footballers across the globe.

But for India’s Koomaleswaran Shankar, the world’s most instantly recognisable referee did prove to be “forthcoming” in any matter related to the game.

For someone making his debut in the World Cup, such affection and camaraderie from the best in business was a bit surprising. “It was a brilliant experience seeing him from close quarters. I discussed even trivial matters with him but he was always ready to clarify any doubt. There was never any hint of any annoyance,” Shankar told The Telegraph during his visit to the city Thursday.

“He’s very quiet, humble and has no airs about himself. In a match he can guide others in superb fashion and can bring the best out of them,” he added.

The Indian Bank employee cites the example of the Belgium-Russia match in which he was one of the assistant referees while Collina was the fourth in rank. “Before the match, he asked me if I have ever officiated in a match involving Russia. I answered in the negative and he took me aside and briefed me on their style of operation. He also named a few players on whom I should keep an eye.”

The “different experience” has forced Shankar to conclude that “refereeing is a teamwork of four men out there in the middle. None is the boss, and only if all click, will the supervision be deemed successful.”

Shankar, who has also officiated in the Olympics and the Confederations Cup, says he has learnt a lot watching from the lines in the three matches. “Once in the middle I now know how to handle better a particular situation. I can implement what Collina did in his match,” he added.

Shankar believes the standard of refereeing in India is very high. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have made it to the World Cup. Nor would have Udayan Halder been chosen for the Asian Games.”

He is open to criticism. “It’s always going to be there. Teams practice hard and if the referee makes any mistake they suffer.”

At a seminar at Calcutta Referees’ Association tent in the evening, Shankar stressed on the fitness bit — both physical and mental — for referees to be successful. “If you watch carefully all incidents happen between 30-45 minutes of each half. The referees have to be fit in order to cope with such situations — position himself perfectly and at the same time be in the right frame of mind to deal with such situations.”


Mumbai, July 18: 
Explosive batsman Yuvraj Singh, who landed here late on Wednesday night on his return from England, was full of praise for his equally volatile middle order partner Mohammed Kaif and said the duo not only play but also think alike.

Commenting on their on-pitch chemistry, largely responsible for beating England in the final of the NatWest triangular series, Yuvraj said: “We have been playing together since the last five to six years and gel well, especially while batting in the middle.”

The Chandigarh lad, who sustained a chipped finger, said he and Kaif had an instinctive understanding of each other’s temperament on the pitch.

“I know his strong points and his weak points, just like he knows mine,” the 20-year-old said, adding, “I also seem to understand what he must be thinking in the middle. It is the same with Kaif, too.”

Yuvraj’s tremendous confidence in Kaif was obvious, when he said that even after getting out 45 runs short of the target he “knew” Kaif would do the job for India, of course with a little bit of help from Harbhajan.

“It is because of my fine understanding with Kaif that makes it easy for us to convert ones into two and two into threes. Later we go for the big shots.”

Yuvraj hoped his chipped finger, which was already showing signs of progress, would heal in about three weeks.

The batsman who returned to Mumbai to a hero’s welcome after an excellent series in England was however “disappointed” at not being able to play in the four-match Test series beginning July 25.

“I was looking forward to the series and was hopeful of my inclusion as that would have given me an opportunity of making a mark in the longer version of the game,” Yuvraj said.

But living up to his reputation of being a comeback-kid, the young batsman quipped, “We can’t escape injuries, these things do happen and all we can do is take it in our stride.”

Yuvraj said the team was “settling down well” under Sourav Ganguly, who always had a word of encouragement for the youngsters.

“In fact, all the seniors, Sourav, Sachin and Dravid are very appreciative of our efforts and very encouraging,” he said.

Ruling out any possibility of flying back to England for the Test series, Yuvraj said that all he wanted was to get ready for the Sri Lanka sojourn in September.

“I just want to be fit for the Champions Trophy in the second week (of September),” he said.


Calcutta, July 18: 
Defending champions Mohun Bagan open their Super Division campaign against Bhratri Sangha at their home ground on Friday.

Mohun Bagan have retained the services of ace Brazilian striker Jose Ramirez Barreto, who signed on the dotted line on Thursday. Along with Barreto, Nigerian Yakubu has also signed for the green-and-maroon brigade.

Though the market forces have claimed some of the players who played a vital role for the club in the last season coach Subrata Bhattacharya feels that if Bhaichung Bhutia and Debjit Ghosh are made available the present side would be “equal in strength”.

The coach intends trying out a new 3-5-2 system along with certain experiments to strengthen his bench during the league. “Except for the East Bengal match, the experiments will continue. The league is going to be my chance to settle the side ahead of the National League and the Asian Champions League,” Bhattacharya said.

However, the coach stressed that the new system was not sacrosanct. “If the 3-5-2 system clicks during the league, it will stay. Otherwise I’ll have to look for something else.”

Defence had been a cause for concern for Bhattacharya in the last season but now he is aiming to plug the gaps with Yakubu’s enterprising presence. However, he still laments the absence of a foreigner as central midfielder.

The jitters of the opening match will always be there and Mohun Bagan are already pinning hopes on Barreto to see them through. Sheikh Sanjib or Amar Ganguly will pair the Brazilian upfront.

The team had a surprise visitor at practice on Thursday morning. Chima Okerie, who dropped in to wish Barreto and the team luck.

For the connoisseurs who will be there to hope for and witness the Barreto magic unfold, there’s another bit of interesting news — World Cup referee Koomaleswaran Shankar will be there to supervise proceedings.

Bhratri have so far played two matches this season — a win and a loss. Hardly enterprising but they will have to play out of their skin if they aim to check the Barreto run.


Guwahati, July 18: 
Third seed Nandan Buragohain continued his winning streak in The Telegraph Schools’ Chess Championship to emerge sole leader with seven points at the end of the seventh round on Thursday at the Netaji Vidyapeeth Railway Higher Secondary School (NVRHSS), Maligaon.

Debananda Singh of Baskandi High School, Ranipur is chasing the leader with 6.5points.

Fide rated Rajib Dhar of NVRHSS adopted the Winawer variation of the French defence against Debananda but wavered in the middle only resigned some timelater.

In the top-of-table play, Troilokya Nanda of Edith Douglas School, Jorhat conceded to Nandan of Nazira Higher Secondary & Multi-Purpose School, Sibsagar on the 30th move.

Nandan, Rajib and Debananda won their sixth round matches with their respective opponents Sashank Singh of Nichols High School, Manash Hazarika of Happy Child School and Twinkle Daulaguphu of Assam Valley School, Balipara.

K. Sanjoy Singh of Kairan L.P. School, Imphal rallied forth to outplay Durlov Nanda of Edith Douglas in 33 moves of a closed variation of the Sicilian defence. L. Shakespeare of Louis English School, Imphal beat Jibananda Singh of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Silchar in 40 moves inthe Colle system.

Second seed Sashank of Nichols High School Chatribari handed out Swaraj Buragohain of Dhitaipukhuri High School a 43-move defeat in the Dutch defence.

Top board results

Nandan Buragohain (7) beat Troilokya Nanda (5.5), Debananda Singh (6.5) beat Rajib Dhar (5), K. Sanjoy Singh (6) beat Durlov Nanda (5), Swaraj Buragohain (5) lost to Sashank Singh (6), L. Shakespeare (6) beat Jibananda Singh (5), Twinkle Daulaguphu (5) drew with Nirmal Jyoti Sharma (5.5), Raktim Bora (4.5) lost to Birbal Singh (5.5), Ranbir Chakma (5) beat Babin K. Singh (4.5), Prantik Medhi (4) lost to N. Scientist (5.5), Partha J. Borah (5) beat Suranjana Talukdar (4.5), Manash P. Hazarika (5) beat Montu Borthakur (4.5) and Arjov Bhuyan (5) beat Nisha Singh (4.5).


Calcutta, July 18: 
Digvijay Singh’s course record-equalling six-under 66 marked the start of the new season of the Hero Honda Indian Golf Tour in Srinagar Thursday. According to information received here, Digvijay’s effort put him in first place after Round I in the Rs 15 lakh Royal Springs Open.

The day saw 16 sub-par scores. Gaurav Diwan made a hole-in-one on the second hole, as did Shamim Khan on the fifth. Ali Sher and Shamim were tied for second place at five-under 67. A bunch of players, including Harmeet Kahlon and Vijay Kumar, was occupying the fourth place at four-under.

Jyoti Randhawa was going great guns before making an unfortunate triple bogey on the 15th hole. He finished the day at three-under 69. Mukesh Kumar, India’s No. 1 player, and winner here last year, made a nightmarish start — a five-over 77.


July 18: 

Sagarmoy set to be asst coach

Sagarmoy Sen Sharma is likely to be named assistant coach of the senior Bengal side for the forthcoming season. Woorkeri Raman has already confirmed a second year stint as coach. Sagarmoy replaces Dattatreyo Mukherjee who has been put in charge of the state under-19 side.

Meanwhile, three from Bengal — Subroto Porel, Aloke Bhattacharjee and Francis Gomes — have been included in BCCI’s elite panel of 40 umpires. They will be eligible to officiate in all important matches in the domestic circuit.

Milan Samity win

Milan Samity overcame Bally Protiva 2-1 in first division group A action of the Calcutta Football League Thursday. In another match, Barisha SC held Muslim Institute 1-1.


FOOTBALL: CFL, Super Division: Mohun Bagan vs Bhratri Sangha (Bagan). First div. gr A: Police AC vs Railway FC (Belghoria); Kidderpore vs Bata (Howrah Stadium); Eastern Coalfields vs George Telegraph (R.. Sarobar); Rajasthan vs CFC (EB); Milan Bithee vs Cal Customs (Md. Sp.); WB Police vs Howrah Union (Tarun Sangha). Matches from 3.30 pm.

TABLE TENNIS: CCD meet at Khudiram Anushilan Kendra from 3 pm.


Pune, 18: 
Royal Amaretto, a very promising youngster in his classic year but failed to keep the promise, is expected to give a re-start to his career in his happy hunting Pune race ground on Friday. The Razeen-Rhein Jewel four-year-old gelding from Dallas Todywalla’s yard is up against a mediocre opposition in the 1,400m Great Guns Plate and may gallop to victory in the hands of jockey Prakash.Bhonsle. The Altaf Hussain-trained Lucky Strike, an in-form horse, may trouble the Amaretto.


1.15 pm: Arctic Girl 1. Furiously 2. Don’t Look Twice 3.
1.45 pm: Music Prospector 1. Flames 2. Always Certain 3.
2.15 pm: Revenger 1. Precious Pearl 2. Fairy Goddess 3.
2.45 pm: Jaannisar 1. Active Warrior 2. Polar Mist 3.
3.15 pm: Royal Amaretto 1. Lucky Strike 2. Prabhuti 3.
3.45 pm: Secret Path 1. Watson Lake 2. Race The Moon 3.
4.15 pm: The Avenger 1. Dreams To Reality 2. Bellagio 3.
4.45 pm: Idolize 1. Instant Alliance 2. Fidillo 3.

Day’s Best: Secret Path

Double: Royal Amaretto & Idolize

Pune, 18: 
Trained by S. Sunderji, Exploding Wonder, a hot-favourite, claimed the upper division of the July Trophy on the opening day of the Pune season on Thursday. The lower division of the trophy was lifted by a lesser fancied Keytothevaults trained by R. D’Mellow.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Capucino Plate, Div-II 1,000m: (1-5-6) Reconquista (Bhagwan) 1; Crimson Rage 2; Bon Apetit 3. Won by: 3; SH; (1-0.9). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 11; 19; 34; Quinella: 54; Shp: 59; Tanala: 554. Fav: Reconquista (1).

2. Capucino Plate, Div-I 1,000m: (8-4-1) Spring Time (Appu) 1; Touch Wood 2; Speed of Light 3. Won by: 1; Nk; (1-0.9). Tote: Win Rs 78; Place: 26; 13; 11; Quinella: 169; Shp: 30; Tanala: 781. Fav: Speed of Light (1).

3. Darado Plate 1,000m: (6-2-3) Aspiring Star (Chauhan) 1; Terrestrial 2; Gold Berg 3. Won by: 3/4; 2-1/4; (59.9). Tote: Win Rs 32; Place: 12; 11; 18; Quinella: 19; Shp: 45; Tanala: 173. Fav: Terrestrial (2).

4. July Trophy, Div-II 1,200m: (1-5-7) Keytothevaults (Appu) 1; Tagged For Terror 2; With Tradition 3. Not run: Marshal Zeto (2). Won by: 3/4; 2; (1-13.7). Tote: Win Rs 87; Place: 21; 19; 43; Quinella: 110; Shp: 58; Tanala: 2,029. Fav: Casagrande (9).

5. Jamshid Plate 1,400m: (3-2-9) Supreme Chancellor (Prakash) 1; Accademia 2; Dahana 3. Won by: SH; 6-1/2; (1-26.7). Tote: Win Rs 12; Place: 12; 15; 38; Quinella: 22; Shp: 27; Tanala: 123. Fav: Supreme Chancellor (3).

6. Camargue Plate, Div-I 1,000m: (4-9-6) Bud Royale (Z. Sayyed) 1; Think of Us 2; Soviet Fire 3. Not run: Super Sword (10). Won by: Nk; 1-1/4; (1-0.1). Tote: Win Rs 150; Place: 38; 14; 17; Quinella: 129; Shp: 36; Tanala: 1,509. Fav: Think of Us (9).

7. July Trophy, Div-I 1,200m: (2-4-9) Exploding Wonder (Rajendra) 1; Jaguar’s Choice 2; Forest Angel 3. Won by: 3-3/4; 2-1/2; (1-12.9). Tote: Win Rs 15; Place: 12; 44; 12; Quinella: 170; Shp: 144; Tanala: 608. Fav: Exploding Wonder (2).

8. Grey Flash Plate 1,400m: (2-8-3) Mambo King (Aaron) 1; Lord of Thunder 2; Palentino 3. Won by: 3-1/4; SH; (1-28). Tote: Win Rs 38; Place: 16; 22; 14; Quinella: 192; Shp: 87; Tanala: 561. Fav: Palentino (3)

9. Camargue Plate, Div-II 1,000m: (7-4-6) Tasmac (Chauhan) 1; Teaser 2; Blue Butterfly 3. Not run: Tio Pepe (11). Won by: SH; 2-1/4; (1-0.1). Tote: Win Rs 35; Place: 18; 29; 39; Quinella: 185; Shp: 106; Tanala: 2,430. Fav: Star of Attention (5).

10. Floral Tribute Plate 1,000m: (2-4-11) Overtures (Hamir) 1; Spirited Move 2; Open Season 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 1/2; (1-0.9). Tote: Win Rs 57; Place: 24; 14; 29; Quinella: 71; Shp: 56; Tanala: 731. Fav: Spirited Move (4).

Jackpot: Rs 8,012; (C) Rs 829.

Treble: (i) Rs 1,186; (ii) Rs 257; (iii) Rs 806.

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