Harbhajan set to play second Test
Key owes it to Stewart’s pep talk
SAIL snatch a point from EB
In the City
Calcutta Races/ Moon Mission for Fillies Trial
Mysore Races/ 6 for Friday’s main event
Calcutta Races/ Illustrious Reign shines

Nottingham, Aug. 6: 
Harbhajan Singh appears set for a Test-return, at Trent Bridge. Even if the Indians field only one specialist spinner, in the second match against England from Thursday, indications are that slot will go to Harbhajan.

Harbhajan was overlooked during the first Test, at Lord’s, which India lost by all of 170 runs. Incidentally, India’s sole hattrick-achiever in Test cricket has been joined by personal coach Devender Arora. If anything, Arora’s presence will lift Harbhajan’s confidence.

“The thinking is that Harbhajan stands a better chance of troubling the Englishmen. Ideally, both spinners (Anil Kumble and Harbhajan) should play, but circumstances may not allow that,” a member of the team’s thinktank told The Telegraph Tuesday.

Somewhat intriguingly, though, while Kumble himself claims he is “fit,” having recovered from the left calf muscle strain, the thinktank isn’t very sure. Apparently, physio Andrew Leipus will make his pronouncement Wednesday. What he says will count.

With the Trent Bridge wicket now looking more green-brown than green only, the Indians could actually have to field both Kumble and Harbhajan. So, if Kumble’s own assessment of his fitness is correct, that should be a load off Sourav Ganguly and John Wright.

Playing two spinners, however, will entail omitting one of the three seamers fielded at Lord’s. One understands Ajit Agarkar, despite that hundred, will then miss out.

But even if Kumble eventually doesn’t play, he attended Tuesday evening’s computer-aided session — with Sourav and Wright in the ‘chair’ — to fine-tune strategy. Harbhajan was there as well.

Basically, the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition batsmen are assessed and the bowlers made to study percentages. For instance, the runs scored by Nasser Hussain off balls pitched on the off-stump. Then, Hussain’s “comfort area” and the “area of discomfort.”

Equally, the analysis highlights the bowlers’ percentages as well — deliveries pitched in line with the stumps, balls that have been short and/or wide. Essentially, everything is documented in a state-of-art manner.

Sourav and Wright spent an hour with Zaheer Khan, Nehra and Agarkar Monday evening, while the interaction with spinners was put on hold for a day. Besides captain Hussain, session No.1 was specific to Michael Vaughan and John Crawley.

Generally, both quicks and spinners sit together. Here, however, the captain and coach decided on separate (“more focussed”) sessions. The ‘theme’, so to say, being England’s batting (and the Indian bowling) at Lord’s.

Though Tuesday was a day off, Sourav chose to have a lengthy workout in the morning. Among specialist batsmen, Wasim Jaffer also opted for what is termed optional nets. Both wicketkeepers were there plus Harbhajan, Nehra, Tinu Yohannan and Sanjay Bangar.

That half the squad chose optional nets on a day of rest is commendable. Full marks to Sourav, too, for leading from the front. In fact, he didn’t allow a stiff neck to keep him back at the Hilton.

The build-up to Thursday, then, isn’t without direction.


Nottingham, Aug. 6: 
Fortyeight hours before his Test debut, against India at Trent Bridge, Robert Key acknowledged he was “indebted” to former England captain Alec Stewart.

More than the others, Key seemed to thank England’s most capped cricketer for helping him reach where he has.

Stewart, as it turns out, had a quiet word with the Kent batsman during the customary end-of-season dinner at the Royal Albert Hall, hosted by the Professional Cricketers’ Association. That was two years ago and the top point Stewart made was: “You’ve got the talent, don’t waste it.”

For Key, that interaction became the proverbial turning point and, on Thursday, he will realise his dream. As already reported, Key will open with Michael Vaughan.

Key, incidentally, was rather overweight — an observation made by John Wright, the Kent coach on his debut (1998), in these columns Tuesday. In fact, while speaking to The Telegraph, Key quipped: “Did John tell you that? Well, even I’ve got some stories about him... Looking back, John made me run for miles and miles...”

However, Key accepted Stewart’s “pep talk,” specially, made him train scientifically and he began monitoring his diet (“no heavy meals”). Even today, Key is pretty heavily-built, but, obviously, a lot fitter.

While he is focussed on the big day, Key spoke of the many “congratulatory calls” even before he had begun his assignment. “I know I’m capable, yet also realise I’m here because of the circumstances (Marcus Trescothick’s injury and Graham Thorpe’s personal roblems)...I’ve got no illusions, but do wish to present the selectors with a dilemma (when they look at the openers for Australia)...”

Key pointed out he will be “delighted” if one of his closest friends, Durham’s Stephen Harmison, is also capped Thursday. He described him as an “awesome” quick.

For his part, Harmison remarked he was “happy” to be back in the England squad, but would be “happier” if he made the XI. “Sure feels good... Only, it could feel even better,” is what he said.

Asked whether possibly having to bowl to the world’s No.1 batsman Sachin Tendulkar in a couple of days was an intimidating prospect, Harmison answered smiling: “That will be the challenge... The only Indian I’ve ever bowled to is their captain, during the 2000 season, but I should be just fine.”

Harmison added: “Basically, you’ve got to believe in whatever you are good at... I do have faith in my ability...” The question, of course, is whether the powers-that-be have enough faith to pick him in the XI.

Tudor released

According to a development late on Tuesday, Alex Tudor has been released to play for his County, Surrey. England, therefore, will now be choosing from XII.


Calcutta, Aug. 6: 
What was proving to be a nice afternoon stroll turned out to be an evening of despair as East Bengal surrendered a 2-0 advantage to share points with Super Division wooden-spooners SAIL on their home turf Tuesday. Things were going very much the way the title-contenders had desired and after wasting several chances to notch up a tennis-like scoreline, East Bengal opened up a handsome 2-0 lead. SAIL, without a point and a goal after three games, opened scoring in the 75th minute and to double the delight, added the equaliser five minutes later.

New Nigerian import Mike Okoro and former FC Kochin marksman Kulathungan scored for East Bengal, while Dulal Patra and Lawrence Enyilord did the job for SAIL. The draw left East Bengal on four points after two games but more importantly, left a question mark over the solidity of coach Subhas Bhowmick’s three-back base. True, these are early days in the season, two of Bhowmick’s frontline defenders are on national duty and a foreign recruit in that department is expected soon.

Yet, the existing defensive combination first paid the price of a moment of complacency that a safe lead sometimes causes and then, crumbled under the pressure created by even the feeble SAIL challenge. It also put to rest the patches of neat combination-play produced by the five-man midfield.

East Bengal took control of the centre after a cautious start and went ahead in the 18th minute. The move started from Kulothungan, who was near the left corner of the centre line and played it across to Malsawmtluanga lurking on the edge of the SAIL half-line. The medio promptly lobbed it forward for Okoro, who negotiated a difficult bounce and kept two defenders off the ball while running into the box.

His third goal in his second match for East Bengal came with a right-footed finish. After muffing up several more chances, East Bengal got the second on the stroke of the hour from a move initiated by Alvito D’Cunha. The Goan’s pass from the deep found Okoro on the left wing and the Nigerian’s eagerness to get another after cutting inside the box almost spoiled the attempt. His shot from a narrow angle came off the goalkeeper but Kulothungan made no mistake with the rebound.

SAIL, with just two long-rangers on either side of the break that came off the woodwork to show for till then, got a fresh lease of life when Bhowmick took off central midfielder Chandan Das to have a look at striker Trijit Das. The move backfired, as it weakened East Bengal’s combative mechanism. Patra got the ball near the left touchline and side-stepped Anit Ghosh before reaching the edge of the box with central defender M. Suresh guarding his way. The former Peerless medio unsettled Suresh with a body-swerve and his right-footed in-swinger curled in just enough to elude the reach of a leaping goalie before finding shelter in the far corner of the goal. A rare goal, by all means.

If that was a warning, the East Bengal defenders paid little attention to it. Kutubuddin Sepai’s cross from the right caught the back-three on a line and landed just outside the six-yard box from where Lawrence gleefully did the needful.


East Bengal: Sandip Nandy; Anit Ghosh, M. Suresh, Subhashish Roy Chowdhury; Raju Singh, Alvito D’Cunha, Chandan Das (Trijit Das, 72; Dipankar Roy, 87), Malsawmtluanga, Surya Bikash Chakraborty; Mike Okoro, Kulahthungan.

SAIL: Goutam Roy; Kutubuddin Sepai, Amulya Mondal, Binod Mal, Rashmohan Mallik; Chanchal Bhattacharya, Ranjit Haldar (Mridul Haldar, 78), Prakash Dutta, Sandip Saha, Mushtaqin Molla (Dulal Patra, 65); Lawrence Enyilord.

Referee: Ashish Chakraborty.



Coaches selection on hold

Bengal’s Santosh Trophy coach will be named Monday. The IFA coaches selection committee met on Tuesday but could not arrive at a decision. “We asked each of the selection committee members to name their preferences for the senior, under-21, under-19 and under-16 teams. A shortlist has been made on that basis,” said a senior IFA official.

According to the official, Amal Dutta, Subrata Bhattacharya, Subhas Bhowmick, Mohammed Habeeb and Manoranjan Bhattacharya are among those shortlisted. The names of Mihir Bose and Sankar Moitra were also proposed but the two declined since they are members of the selection committee.

D’Silva likely to arrive Sunday

With the defence not oozing confidence, East Bengal have started looking for reinforcements and one Brazilian called Douglas D’Silva is expected to arrive on Sunday. East Bengal have recruited just one foreigner this season — striker Mike Okoro — and local league regulations permits fielding one more in a match.

Mondal muddle

Mohun Bagan medio Basudeb Mondal is uncertain for Wednesday’s match against Ever-Ready. The medio’s transfer documents after a stint in Bangladesh was not in order which drew a protest after the club’s Super Division-opener against Bhratri Sangha.

The club, it was learnt, has paid the necessary fees to put things back in order, but there is confusion over the player’s status since he has not got himself registered afresh. However, the IFA maintained if Mondal’s clearance arrives Wednesday, he will be allowed to play.

Under-17 tour

The Indian national under-17 team will tour Germany as part of preparation for the Asian under-17 Championship to be held in Dubai next month. The team coached by Islam Akhmedov leaves for Germany on August 16 for the 12-day tour.

In Germany, the Indians are expected to play four matches. The team will have a camp here on their return and leave for Dubai on September 5.

India have been placed in a tough group including China, UAE and Myanmar.

CAB XI face elimination

The CAB XI’s campaign in the KSCA tournament in Bangalore seems to be over. After being bowled out for 256 on Day I Monday, the CAB XI allowed Chemplast pile up 390 in reply on Day II, according to information received here. CAB XI were 21 for two in their second innings. The match ends Wednesday. For Chemplast, former India left-hander Hemang Badani scored 140. Off-spinner Sourashish Lahiri took three wickets while left-arm spinner Anirban Chatterjee two for CAB.

YMCA snooker

Brijesh Damani won the YMCA one-frame handicap snooker championship Tuesday. He beat Mark Anthony 97-48 in the final. Earlier, in the semis, Damani had beaten Sajiv Sahai 81-69. Anthony had got the better of Ramesh Tiwari 91-68.

Today in Sport

FOOTBALL: IFA League Super Division — Mohun Bagan vs Ever-Ready Assn (Mohun Bagan). 1st div. Gr A: Bata vs BNR (Rabindra Sarovar), Milan Bithee vs WB Police (Mohammedan Sporting), Railway FC vs Sonali Shibir (Tarun Sangha), CFC vs Wari AC (East Bengal), Calcutta Customs vs Howrah Union (Howrah Stadium), Police AC vs Md. AC (SAI II). Matches from 3.30pm. 5th div. championship play-off: Shyambazar United vs The Orient Club (University), Hrishikesh Park Institute vs Jadavpur Assn (YMCA), Maitree Sangha vs Shibpur Inst (High Court). Matches from 3pm.    

Calcutta, Aug. 6: 
Back in the business after his drug related suspension, trainer Daniel David holds the key to the Wednesday’s feature event, the 1,400m Calcutta Fillies Trial Stakes as all the four fillies in the fray hail from his yard. However, it is the last winter’s brilliant horse Moon Mission who may return victorious. The Always A Rainbow-Moccasin daughter not only gives the impression that she has learnt to settled down in the race, forsaking her tear away tactics, she is also jockey Amyn Merchant’s pick.

Read as: Horse nos, last four runs, horse name, trainer, jockey, weight & draw:

1st Race at 1.30 p.m.

Camballo Handicap 1,100m (Cl V, Rt. 00-28)—Indian jockeys only
1 3014 Lady Shirley [Rodrigues] Surjeet S. 60.0 5
2 - - - 0 Kainat [Javed] Som S. 59.0 4
3 - - 22 Calcuttan [Mujeeb] C. Alford 58.0 6
4 4423 Castle Moon [Karki] F. A. Khan 57.0 3
5 0004 April Ace [Daniel] Merchant 54.0 2
6 0000 Flying Power [Karki] P. Kujur 51.0 1

1. Lady Shirley (1) 2. Calcuttan (3) 3. Kainat (2)

Lady Shirley: Good at the weights against Calcuttan and Castle Moon, her main rivals. Calcuttan: May have to defy handicap. Kainat: Looking well. Upset, if any.

2nd Race at 2.00 p.m.

Calcutta Fillies Trial Stakes 1,400m (Terms, 3-y-o only)
1 1120 Moon Mission [Daniel] Merchant 54.5 2
2 0411 River Melody [Daniel] B. Gurang 54.5 1
3 2331 Star Selection [Daniel] Asghar 54.5 4
4 4312- Social Girl [Daniel] Md Yasin 51.0 3

1. Moon Mission (1) 2. Star Selection (3) 3. River Melody (2)

Moon Mission: A tear away type but she has learnt to settle down. May strike. Star Selection: In-form. May go close. River Melody: Upset, if any.

3rd Race at 2.40 p.m.

Wind Song Cup 1,400m (Cl III; Rt. 44-72)
1 3200- Soviet Port [Daniel] S. Salam 60.5 3
2 2230- Regency Times [Daniel] Merchant 57.0 4
3 0403- Alkido [Bharath] Md Islam 55.5 6
4 1120- Calamint [Mujeeb] S. Shanker 55.5 7
5 2120- Rescue Act [Bharath] S. Rabani 52.5 1
6 - 014- Star Music [Javed] F. A. Khan 51.5 5
7 0411- Sencai [Javed] Saran S. 49.5 2

1. Rescue Act (5) 2. Star Music (6) 3. Regency Times (2)

Rescue Act: Has been under preparations for a long time. Star Music: Her current form and looks point to a place chance only. Regency Times: May upset.

4th Race at 3.10 p.m.

Finalist Handicap 1,400m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) — Indian jockeys only
1 3400 Mr. Bombshell [Bharath] Md Islam 60.0 6
2 3000 Regal Rocket [Daniel] R. Ahmed 59.5 2
3 - - 04 Aiberni [Bharath] C. Alford 59.0 7
4 2000 Giorgio [Rodrigues] Upadhya 59.0 5
5 0002 Grand Lodge [Javed] R. Gowli 59.0 1
6 0212 Royal City [Daniel] Merchant 59.0 4
7 3000 Flying Scot [Karki] G. Singh 55.5 3

1. Aiberni (3) 2. Royal City (6) 3. Grand Lodge (5)

Aiberni: Sparingly raced like his full sister, Allaying. Twice failed-favourite, however. Royal City: A youngster and the likely favourite. Grand Lodge: May place.

5th Race at 3.40 p.m.

Commuter Cup 1,200m (Terms, 4-y-o & over)
1 1101 Alcalde [Bharath] C. Alford 60.0 3
2 1202 Beneficent [Daniel] A. P. Singh 59.5 4
3 2303 Allodium [Bharath] S. Rabani 57.5 2
4 4000 Amber Dancer [Daniel] Merchant 56.5 1
5 1003 Dancing Dreams [R. Alford] I. Chisty 56.0 6
6 1224 The Archer [Stephens] Rutherford 56.0 5

1. The Archer (6) 2. Alcalde (1) 3. Allodium (3)

The Archer: Heavily favoured by the terms of the race and looking well, too. Alcalde: Unlikely to defy handicap. Allodium: May place at the most.

6th Race at 4.10 p.m.

Gold Kale Handicap 1,200m (Cl V; 5-y-o & over Rt. 00-28)— Indian jockeys only
1 3000 Adeline [Daniel] Engineer 60.0 3
2 0400 Simply Dashing [Daniel] V. Jaiswal 59.5 6
3 0002 Tiger Talk [Javed] Saran S. 57.5 2
4 4104 Uprising [Karki] K. Kumar 56.5 4
5 0102 Blushing Brave [Karki] P. Kujur 52.5 5
6 3302 Kyalami [R. Alford] I. Chisty 50.5 1

1. Kyalami (6) 2. Tiger Talk (3) 3. Adeline (1)

Kyalami: Was outclassed by Black Mane. May try his luck again. Tiger Talk: Looking and working well. May go close to the winner. Adeline: Upset, if any.

7th Race at 4.40 p.m.

Nightjar Handicap 1,000m (Cl IV; 5-y-o & over Rt. 22-50)— Indian jockeys only
1 0102 Magnifico [Mujeeb] C. Alford 60.0 1
2 3001 Brave Venture [Daniel] Merchant 59.0 2
3 0220 Classic Pursuit [Bharath] M. Maseyk 58.5 5
4 - 001 Wandering Warrior [Jaiswal] I. Chisty 55.5 3
5 0243 Storm Centre [Rodrigues] Surjeet S. 54.5 4

1. Wandering Warrior (4) 2. Brave Venture (2) 3. Magnifico (1)

Wandering Warrior: Maintains looks since last win. May strike again. Brave Venture: Harshly penalised for last win. Magnifico: May place.

Day’s Best: The Archer

Double: Moon Mission & Wandering Warrior

Calcutta, Aug. 6: 
The Mysore Race Club Cup, Friday’s main event, is six-horse strong. First race at 2 pm.


1. Bhishma Cup 1,800m (Cl II; Cl III eligible Rt. 44-94) 2 pm: Argolis 60; Illustrious Reign 58.5; No Regrets 54.5; Discomatic 53.

2. Zeenee Handicap 1,100m (Cl III; 5-y-o & over Rt. 44-72) 2.40 pm: Scarlet Raider 60; Sky Command 60; Gallant Romeo 57.5; On The Bit 56.5; Lawyer’s Love 54.5; Queen’s Logic 54.5; Sovereign Bullet 53; Winning Hand 52.

3. Mysore Race Club Cup 1,400m (Cl I; Rt. 88 & over) 3.10 pm: Ballet Master 60; Anolini 58; Harry The Horse 56.5; Allaying 56; Esstocade 56; Secret Blessing’s 55.

4. Great Scot Handicap 1,000m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) 3.40 pm: Declarationoflove 60; Wakamba Warrior 59.5; Ardon 58.5; Lively Project 58.5; Arbello 54; Schumacher 53.

5. Heiress Handicap 1,200m (Cl V; Rt. 18 & below) 4.10 pm: Uprising 60; Asprey 57; Heaven’s Blessing 54.5; Kyalami 54; Scenic Song 54; Iron Warrior 52.5; Calculus 51.5.

6. Selector Handicap 1,200m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) 4.40 pm: Sergeant Slipper 61; Rare Gold 59.5; Timbavati 58.5; Bul Bul 55; Simply Monarch 52; Glass Slipper 51.5; Soviet Dance 49.5.

Jackpot: 2; 3; 4; 5 & 6.

Treble: (i) 1; 2 & 3; (ii) 4; 5 & 6.

Calcutta, Aug. 6: 
Illustrious Reign and Calculus worked well on Tuesday.

Outer sand track

800m: Illustrious Reign (Koch) in 56s; (400m) 26s . Good.Keep The Faith (Koch) in 1-1s; (400m) 28s. Easy. Mack The Knife (Rutherford) in 1-0s; (400m) 28s. Moved well. Glass Slipper (K. Kumar) in 1-1s; (400m) 30s. Anolini (Shanker) in 58s; (400m) 26s. Moved well. Harry The Horse (Rutherford) in 58s; (400m) 28s. Easy handy.

600m: Sagittarian (G. Singh) in 47s; (400) 30s. Calculus (Rb) in 42s; (400m) 25s. Note.

400m: Software Classic (Rb) in 29s

Sand track

800m: Red Trident (Tamang) and Lawyer’s Love (Brij S.) in 56s; (400m) 27s. They were level and they moved well.

400m: Abandoned (P. Alford) in 28s.    


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