|Thursday, April 6, 2000,
Dingko qualifies for Sydney
Ali Sher gains lead at SRF Open
BANGKOK, April 5 (UNI) It was ecstasy and gloom for India as Asian Games bantamweight gold medallist NG Dingko Singh confirmed his berth for the Sydney Olympics but two of his compatriot H. Srinivas Rao (fly weight) and K. Sanjit Singh (light welter) lost their semifinal bouts in the Kings Cup boxing tournament here today.
The 23-year-old Navy Officer Dingko Singh became the fourth boxer to have qualified for the Olympics as he overpowered A. Hadi (Iran) in the semifinals.
While Srinivas Rao still has a hope of making it to Sydney if he wins the bout for the third place tomorrow,there is no such chance for Sanjit Singh.
Interestingly all the three Indians were pitted against Iranians in their respective semifinals.
There was a pall of gloom in the Indian camp as Srinivas Rao lost to Rahim Mohammad in flyweight semifinals, but Dingko Singh brought in cheers for his teammates winning the bentamweight bout and the ticket to Sydney.
Srinivas Rao fought with a lot of spirit but the first round went Rahims way as the Indian failed to connect most of his punches.
Rao in sheer frustration threw his punches wildly and had no impact on his rival. In the second round he tried more aggression but lacked stamina and fitness and the Iranian held sway.
In the penultimate round Rao had his rival on the receiving end but the Indian failed to capitalise on the advantage. Rahim regained his ground in the last round and attacked furiously as Rao ran for the cover. The Indian suffered a wicked cut on his brow and that ended his resistance. Rahim polished off the bout taking it 8-5.
Though the defeat was a blow to Indian hopes, Rao is still hopeful of his chances. I did not do my best today, but I still have a fight for the third place. So I am going to keep trying.
The first three boxers in the flyweight will qualify for the Olympics.
Coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu said: I am disappointed. Rao should have made it but he lacked experience. Lets see what happens day after tomorrow,but I am worried about his injury.
It was left to the short-statured Manipuri Dingko Singh to bring cheers to Indian camp as he chalked out a facile win over Akbar Hadi on his way to the final.
Dingko started confidently against his tall rival. The Indian started by attacking the Iranians face but Akbar was more than a match for him as he hit back with a powerful right.
However Dingko showed his class and calibre in the first full bout he had in this tournament so far displaying quick reflexes.
The Indian who initially had problem getting past Akbars defence, slowly built up a lead.
The third round saw the bout getting away from the Indian as Akbar with his good reach unleashed flurry of hard punches. Dingko took a blow on one of the ribs and then one below the belt. However he fought gamely and gave it all he had in the fast and furious final round. He finally won the bout 10-7.
After the bout Dingko said: It was a very tough bout I had a very difficult time, I got him in the third round and had to work hard at staying in. Also I kept trying to get past his guard, but he had it up all the time. Anyway I am glad to have made it to the Sydney Olympics.
Sandhu looked pleased with Dingko win and said: Thank God he has qualified .This will boost the morale of the whole squad. I think his experience really counted today because it enabled him to stay in the bout.
In the light welter, K. Sanjit Singhs hope of making it to the final and also to Sydney went up in smoke as he lost to A. Nourian (Iran).
Sanjit went flat out on the offensive but the Iranian was well prepared and defended himself admirably.
The Indian kept up the pressure but Nourian not only protected himself well but also landed couple of punches on his rival to earn crucial points.
In the third round Sanjit found his rhythm and began to stalk his rival around the ring,but his power surge was cut short when he took a blow on the face. The Indian conceded the bout 4-7 to Nourian.
Today was bad day for Sanjit. He had boxed well in the tournament. He fought with injured hand and gave it all he had but it was not his day coach Sandhu told UNI later.
India now has four confirmed berths for the Sydney Olympics and another one in waiting till day after tomorrow.
MUMBAI, April 5 (UNI) Former India captain Sachin Tendulkar has stepped down from Mumbai captaincy and will be replaced by Samir Dighe for the Ranji Trophy semi-finals against Tamil Nadu beginning at the Wankhede Stadium from April 11 to 15.
Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) Joint Secretary Prof Ratnakar Shetty said: Tendulkar wanted to play as a batsman only and he requested us to relieve him from the captaincy. A month ago, Tendulkar had also relinquished Indias reins which went to Saurav Ganguly.
Dighe was named as the captain at the start of the season when Tendulkar was leading India on the disastrous tour of Australia. The selectors took more than two hours to select the team and the captain after Tendulkar stepped down.
Sachin will be leaving to play for Asia XI against the Rest of the World to be held at Dhaka on April 8. MCA had earlier requested the cricket board to delay the semi-final match against Tamil Nadu by two days to accommodate Tendulkar in the team.
The Mumbai team will be bolstered by the return of allrounder Ajit Agarkar and main strike bowler and medium pacer Paras Mhambrey, who missed the last few matches due to injury.
The team: Samir Dighe (capt), Amol Mujumdar (vice capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Vinod Kambli, Wasim Jaffer, Amit Pagnis, Jatin Paranjpe, Ajit Agarkar, Abey Kuruvilla, Santosh Saxena, Rajesh Pawar, Ramesh Powar, Nilesh Kulkarni, Paras Mhambrey, Shriram Kannan and Amit Dani.
PTI adds: Master batsman Sachin Tendulkars decision to step down from the captaincy of the Mumbai cricket team was influenced by the fact that stand-in skipper Sameer Dighe was doing a fine job and the young team-members would be more comfortable with Dighe as they havent played much under Tendulkar.
Tendulkar told the Mumbai cricket selectors yesterday that he would like Dighe to continue as skipper as the team was doing very well under him this season, selection committee chairman and former India captain Ajit Wadekar told PTI today.
I totally agree with his decision as there are quite a few youngsters in the team who Sachin has not seen much of, Wadekar added.
The MCA joint secretary Prof Ratnakar Shetty confirmed that Tendulkar had requested the association not to appoint him as the skipper of Mumbai team this season.
He (Tendulkar) felt the team was doing well under Dighe and obviously did not want to disturb the winning spree. Moreover, the youngsters in the team would be more comfortable playing under Dighe than under him, he added.
Tendulkar was not available for comment as he was busy celebrating the Maharashtrian new year Gudhi Padva which falls today.
When contacted, Dighe said it was a great honour to lead a side which has a player of Tendulkars calibre.
However, I still feel he (Tendulkar) should be leading the side as he knows the game inside out, he added.
During the one-day series against South Africa, Sachin was telling me that I should be leading the Mumbai team for the rest of the season and I thought he was just pulling my leg, said the wicketkeeper.
clinches golf title
CHANDIGARH, April 5 Balkar Singh of Railways romped home winner in the inaugural National Civil Services Golf Championship at the Chandigarh Golf Club here today returning a gross score of 83. Besides the trophy the Delhi Railway golfer is entitled to an air ticket to Singapore or Hong Kong, sponsored by Bajaj Travels, Chandigarh.
A.P. Pandey of Uttar Pradesh finished runner-up with 85. Pandey was given a return air ticket to Goa.
Pandey, however, had the consolation of winning the title in the nett section with a score of 69. The runner-up position went to R.K. Rao of Haryana.
Bharat Raj Bajaj of Punjab claimed the title for nearest to the pin and R.K. Rao, former Deputy Commissioner of Chandigarh, was declared the winner in the longest drive competition.
S.C. Chaudhary and R.K. Rao of Haryana clinched the gross team title. The Punjab team of P.K. Verma, former Secretary of Punjab Governor, and B.R. Bajaj, former Finance Secretary, Chandigarh Administration, finished runners-up.
R.N. Gupta and Navdeep Singh were winners in the team championship (nett) and R.S. Sandhu and A.P. Pandey finished runners-up.
Seventyfive competitors from all over the country participated in the one-day competitions. Most of the golfers expressed happiness and satisfaction over the arrangements made for conducting the championship. However they were of the view that more such tournaments should be organised.
Fazal to lead Indian challenge
NEW DELHI, April 5 Indian non-playing captain Ramesh Krishnan named Leander Paes and Syed Fazaluddin to spearhead the hostsattack in the Asian Zone Group I second round Davis Cup tie against South Korea to be played at the R.K. Khanna Stadium here from April 7 to 9.
After a longish practice session at the National Sports Club of India(NSCI) courts here today, Ramesh said Leander and Fazaluddin will play in both singles and doubles unless something unexpected happens. They are the best pair available with us, and more over, they have played together in the doubles.
Rameshs announcement puts at rest the speculation about the doubles combination. Ramesh tried out all the permutations and combinations with the talent available at his disposal, before deciding on the Leander-Fazaluddin combination. Ramesh said: In any case everything depends on the first days play. If India win both the singles on the opening day, the hosts obviously would go for the killer punch in the doubles, by fielding their best pair Leander and Fazal. Otherwise, the Indian captain may have to alter his strategy.
We will have to see how the first days play go, Ramesh said cautiously. But he was confident that Leander and Fazal would pull off the tie against Korea as we have had a good run of the training sessions.
The Indian squad had a very fruitful week-long training session at the well-tended NSCI courts, though Leander joined the team only on Sunday night. But the Indian ace made for the lost time in the last three days, by having strenuous workouts. Leander said since his duty would be very hard, my effort has been to conserve my energy in this sapping heat. We are trying to make the best options we have, and we will have to come out guns blazing on Friday, Leander remarked.
Leander said he has chalked out his strategy, but would not disclose it, and that The Delhi heat is going to be a factor, particularly if are going to play five-setters, in deciding the tie. After the hectic workout today, Leander felt he was on the right track.
Fazaluddin said he did the best preparation I could have done, and I am ready for the tie. The new- national grass court champion disclosed that he started preparing for this tie right after the first round match against Lebanon in Lucknow early this year. This is the longest I have ever prepared for a contest, said the youngman, whom the Koreans are definitely going to target, to gather their points.
Fazaluddin said he was mentally ready to play on all three days. Davis Cup is difficult, but we should be able to do well, he noted.
He said he has been training for the past two months, and has been playing well too. He said Leander has been making him play in the doubles with a changed strategy, to help him play better, and I shall try to put my best foot forward, as we have a great Davis Cup hero in Leander. Fazaluddin knew about his nomination for the doubles only when reporters told him about it, though Ramesh had already asked for my commitment.
I have been doing my home work well, and I am ready for the battle, He declared. But the South Koreans are not very impressed. Though Korean non-playing captain Joo Won-Hong conceded that Fazaluddin is a good player, Davis Cup needs experience. The Korean said with a poker face that he expected the final verdict to be either 4-1 or 3-2 in their favour.He said India will be under home pressure, and we are getting better and better.
The Korean captain also discounted the theory that the heat would affect them. The dry heat here is ok. We are used to sticky weather back home, he added.Thus the stage is set for the battle, and its interesting to watch how India would go about their difficult task, in the absence of Mahesh Bhupathi. The Koreans got a feel of the centre court at the R.K. Khanna Stadium in the afternoon, and was happy with the condition of the surface.
LONDON, April 5 (Reuters) Andre Agassis on-off love affair with the Davis Cup is due to resume this weekend but injury could stop the American playing his first home tie since July 1998 against the Czech Republic.
Agassis decision to travel to Zimbabwe after winning the Australian Open was vital for his countrys Davis Cup chances in the absence of Pete Sampras, but the dehydration he suffered in Harare has hobbled the world number one since early February.
Defeat in the semifinals in Miami last week left Agassi with an ankle injury that he hopes will clear up in time for the world group quarterfinal in Inglewood, California.
I think it (the ankle) will be all right for that worst case, maybe even if I have it taped when Im playing, Agassi said after his defeat by Gustavo Kuerten. It will probably take three or four days before I can really move 100 percent on it.
Like Agassi in February, Sampras comes to the Davis Cup with a title under his belt after beating Kuerten in Miamis final and he warns the US will face a struggle if his big name compatriot is not fit to play the other singles rubbers.
Certainly wed love to have him, hopefully he can get his health back, Sampras said on Sunday. With him on the team our chances are that much better to win this pretty easily.
If he doesnt play, certainly it opens the door to a tough weekend.
While the US scraped through 3-2 against Zimbabwe, the Czechs swept Britain aside 4-1 but they appear to have little chance on the indoor hard court if Agassi and Sampras play.
They received a boost in Miami when Martin Damm beat US pair Jared Palmer and Alex OBrien named in the Americans Davis Cup squad in the semifinals of the doubles playing alongside Slovak Dominik Hrbaty.
Damm has been drafted into the Czech squad because of this performance but unfortunately Hrbaty will be on duty in Rio de Janeiro, where the Slovaks play Brazil.
It would be so great if Hrbaty was on our team, said Czech captain Jan Kukal. In the old days he would have been ... combined we would have a team capable of winning the Cup.
The US have won three of the four ties against Czech opponents, formerly Czechoslovakia, while the Slovaks have not played Brazil since the division of the two in 1994.
Slovakia beat Austria 3-2 in the first round, after taking a 3-0 lead, but they will find the conditions far more Torrid on and around the outdoor clay court in Rio despite their strong singles pairing of Hrbaty and Karol Kucera.
Brazil beat France 4-1 in Florianopolis in the first round and, with Kuerten regaining the form that took him from 23rd in the world to fifth last year, the home side look capable of reaching only their second world group semifinal.
Champions Australia have lost their Davis Cup final hero Mark Philippoussis with a leg injury for their home tie against Germany in Adelaide but can call upon former world number one Pat Rafter as a formidable substitute.
Rafter missed the Nice final after shoulder surgery and could partner Lleyton Hewitt in the singles on Adelaides grass, but Germanys already slim chances have been hit by injury.
Nicolas Kiefer has declined to turn out for his country this season and Tommy Haas pulled out on Saturday with a hip injury.
Rainer Schuettler suffered a thigh muscle injury in training on Monday. A decision on his fitness to play singles alongside David Prinosil will be made today.
The final quarterfinal Sees Russias power players, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin, attempt to beat the touch players of Spain Alex Corretja and Albert Costa on the Spaniards favourite surface, red clay.
Kafelnikov, second behind Agassi in the ATP champions race, was knocked out in the quarterfinals in Miami, which did not entirely displease captain Shamil Tarpishchev.
He should get enough acclimatisation, rest and practice on clay now, which should be the key to his game, Tarpishchev said.
NEW DELHI, April 5 (UNI) Ali Sher, who considers the Delhi Golf Club his second home, had no qualms in burning it up as he shot a blistering bogey-free round of seven-under 65 to leapfrog to the top of the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the Rs 8.5 lakh 26th SRF Open championship, here today.
Ali Sher tallied nine-under 135 and was two strokes ahead of the red hot Jyoti Randhawa and Feroze Ali, who were tied for the second place at seven-under 137. Kanpurs Shiv Prakash shot a four-under 68 and tied for the fourth place at six-under 138 along with overnight leader Jumman, who returned a par 72 card. Gaurav Ghei was sixth at five-under 139.
Ali Sher, who has won the Indian Open twice on this very course, began from the 10th tee after missing a six-footer and an eight footer birdie putts on the first two holes, went into overdrive from the 13th hole onwards.
He then peppered the flag with his approach shots, making a hat-trick of birdies from the 13th onwards. On the 16th, he missed a five-footer for birdie and then added another hat-trick of birdies from the 17th onwards. On the 17th, he was on the edge of the green from where he putted with an eight-iron straight into the hole.
Ali Sher, added another birdie on the eighth hole, before missing on the ninth hole.
Starting from the 10th tee, Randhawa made a bogey on the 12th hole when he missed his chip-putt from the edge of the green. After missing the six-footer par putt on the 12th, the reigning Wills Indian Open champions putter gathered heat as he sank a 20-footer followed by a 15-footer for birdies on the 13th and 14th. On the par-five 18th, he missed a six foot eagle putt, but tapped in for birdie nevertheless. On his back nine, the Delhi-based golfer made birdies on the first, fourth and eighth and a bogey on the sixth.
Feroze made a bogey on his final hole but appeared extremely happy for the second day with his putting.
Overnight leader Jumman struggled with his bunker shots and made three of his four bogies from the hazard. Otherwise, the Lucknow professional was doing well and was two-under with four holes to go before making bogies on the 15th and 17th holes. Shiv Prakash, champion here in 1988 when he broke the existing four-day aggregate record with a 17-under, moved into contention with a solid round which was marred by a three-putt bogey on the fourth and another on the final hole.
Ashok Kumar continued to lead the amateur section despite a one-over 73 card. Shiv Kapur shot a two-under 70 to aggregate one-under 143, one stroke off Ashok. Five time national amateur champion, Ashok Malik also made the professional cut, tallying three-over 147.
SYDNEY, April 5 (AFP) India hope to re-establish their Olympic credentials in a four-nation hockey tournament that starts here tomorrow.
Coach Vasudevan Baskaran said today the tournament with Australia, South Africa and Germany in Sydney this week and Perth next week is the ideal chance to get the country back in the groove for the September games.
The seedings for Sydney 2000 are due out by the end of the month and it is unlikely India will be in the top eight.
But Baskaran, who led India to their last Olympic hockey gold win at Moscow in 1980, was confident his team could prove a surprise package if they put in the necessary hard work.
Were capable of finishing up there but we have a lot of hard work to do, he said.
He believed the Indian tradition of dribbling could still challenge the modern physical game played by Australia, Holland, Germany, Pakistan, South Korea and Spain.
But Baskaran said the biggest problem for India had been adapting to the constant rule changes.
Its difficult to adjust to new rules in a big country like ours, he said. By the time all the details filter through to the most remote areas it can be a few months. Then you need time to adjust your style.
In a country like Holland everybody knows about it the next day.
Artificial pitches, the elimination of offside rule in 1996 and obstruction in 1998 quickened the game and brought a more powerful physical aspect to a supposedly non-contact sport.
And the modern obsession with computer and video analysis, improvements in physiology and the employment of sports psychologists have all left India, winner of an unprecedented eight Olympic mens hockey gold medals, behind.
India have not won too many international events in the last 25 years and Baskaran admitted it was unlikely to change at the Sydney Olympics.
But with a unified team we are capable of springing a surprise, he added.
One rule change that could help India was made at last years Champions Trophy where unintentional ball contact with the feet went unpunished, denying the more defensive sides penalty corners that would have otherwise been awarded.
But Baskaran felt team motivation was essential.
BANGALORE, April 5 (UNI) B.K. Venkatesh Prasad will lead Karnataka against Hyderabad in the Ranji Trophy semi-final match to be played at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here from April 11 to 15.
Karnataka, however, will be without the services of Rahul Dravid, and Anil Kumble who will be playing in English counties.
Earlier the Karnataka State Cricket Association had announced that Kumble would lead the team. The substitute for Kumble would be named later.
Following is the team:
B.K. Venkatesh Prasad
(captain), J. Arun Kumar, Mithun Beerala, Rowland
Barrington, R. Vijay Bharadwaj, Sunil Joshi, Javagal
Srinath, Dodda Ganesh, V.S. Thilak Naidu, B. Akhil,
Santosh Vadeyaraj, A. Vijay and Mansur Ali Khan. Coach:
B. Raghunath. Manager: S. Narayana Raju.
HAMBURG, April 5 (DPA) Andre Agassi returned to the top of the ATP Tour champions race on Monday while fellow-American Pete Sampras moved up from eighth to third place after his Miami title.
The Miami semifinalist Agassi dethroned Yevgeny Kafelnikov again to rank on top with 249 points to the Russians 223. Number 3 Sampras has 218 after his first 2000 title.
Gustavo Kuerton soared into the top 10 from 26th to eighth place after a runner-up berth at the second Masters Series tournament of the year in Florida.
ATP Tour champions race as of April 3:
1 Andre Agassi (USA) 249 points, 2 Vevgeny Kafelnikov, (Russia) 223, 3 Pete Sampras (USA) 218, 4 Lleyton Hewitt, (Australia) 187, 5 Magnus Norman (Sweden) 185, 6 Nicolas Kiefer, (Germany) 137, 7 Thomas Enqvist (Sweden) 136, 8 Gustavo Kuerten (Brazil) 134, 9 Alex Corretja (Spain) 131, 10 Mark Philippoussis (Australia) 130. Lindsay Davenport of the USA reclaimed the world number 1 position in womens tennis in the latest WTA rankings.
WTA Tour top 10 as of April 3:
1 Lindsay Davenport
(USA) 6,100 points, 2 Martina Hingis (Switzerland) 6,046,
3 Venus Williams (USA) 3,280, 4 Mary Pierce (France)
2,643, 5 Nathalie Tauziat (France) 2,549, 6 Serena
Williams (USA) 2,488, 7 Monica Seles (USA) 2,177, 8
Conchita Martinez (Spain) 2,076, 9 Julie Halard-Decugis
(France) 1,986, 10 Sandrine Testud (France) 1,867.
CHANDIGARH, April 5 Dr Ajmer Singh, Arjuna awardee and former Director, Sports, Panjab University, was today appointed Professor of Physical Education Maulana Abul Kalam Azad chair. He is the winner of one gold and two silver medals in the 5th Asian Games held at Bangkok in 1966. Dr Ajmer Singh has over 30 years of teaching experience of post graduate classes in physical education.
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