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Thursday, November 1, 2001, Chandigarh, India






National Capital Region--Delhi

S P O R T S

Pakistan cruise into final
Sharjah, October 31
Pakistan shrugged off a 146-run stand from the Flower brothers as they confirmed their place in the Sharjah Champions Trophy final on Wednesday. Their 29-run win, inspired by Shahid Afridi and pace bowlers Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram, also condemned Zimbabwe to a 16th successive one-day defeat in a row.

Anandpur Sahib gears up for National Games
Chandigarh, October 31
The Dasmesh Academy of Martial arts and Guru Teg Bahadur Sarai, Anandpur Sahib, will play host to the nearly 1,000 sportspersons and officials from all over the country during the forthcoming National Games. The martial arts academy, which came into being on April 10,1999, is all ready to hold competitions in judo, fencing, taekwondo and netball.
Dashmesh Academy of Martial Arts The front view of the Dashmesh Academy of Martial Arts, Anandpur Sahib, where judo, fencing, taekwondo and netball events will be held. — Tribune photo Manoj Mahajan

National Games: important meeting today
Chandigarh, October 31
At last the Punjab Government has got down to serious business with regard to the conduct of the National Games. Two important meetings have been lined up — the first on November 2 which will be cleared by the Chief Secretary and the second on November 4, where the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, will preside.

Dravid to play despite injury
Durban, October 31
Indian vice-captain Rahul Dravid today brushed aside speculations on his shoulder injury and said he would play in the Test series against South Africa starting here on Saturday.


Sukhbir Kaur
India's Sukhbir Kaur performs on the parallel bars during the women's qualifying round at the World Artistic Gymnastic Championships in Ghent on Tuesday. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Windies to focus on cricket, not security
Bridgetown October 31
The West Indies team departed for troubled Sri Lanka yesterday insisting they are not worried about safety but on winning Tests and ensuring injury-plagued players will be ready for play.

India’s tour match washed out
Durban, October 31
The third and final day’s play in India’s tour match against a South African President’s XI today was abandoned without a ball being bowled after overnight rain left the outfield waterlogged.

Sodhi ruled out as Punjab face HP
SAS Nagar, October 31
Young allrounder Reetinder Sodhi has been ruled out while uncertainty remains regarding off-spinner Sarandeep Singh as Punjab take on Himachal Pradesh in the inaugural match of the four-day North Zone Ranji Trophy league match at the PCA Stadium here tomorrow.

Patiala win team championship
Chandigarh, October 31
Patiala won both sabre and epee men’s team championship while Fatehgarh Sahib became the winners in the women sabre event team championships in the 20th senior Punjab State Fencing Championships which concluded today at Dashmesh Academy of Martial Arts, Anandpur Sahib. Earlier Patiala had won the women’s section epee and foil team event and also the men’s foil event.

Irina surges ahead in Quark Golf
Chandigarh, October 31

Top seed and local favourite Irina Brar showed her class today. Playing a steady game she surged ahead with a two-stroke lead over her nearest rival Shruti Khanna after the second round of the ninth Punjab Open Quark Ladies Amateur Golf Championship at the Chandigarh Golf Club course.

Irina Brar is all smiles as she walks with her caddie after returning the best one-under card on the second day of the Punjab Open Quark Ladies Amateur Golf Championship in Chandigarh on Wednesday. 
— Tribune photo Pradeep Tewari
Irina Brar

Connor Williams in hot seat
Durban, October 31
It couldn’t have been a more difficult initiation into international cricket for an Indian opener. As India prepare to take on South Africa in the Test series, the man under maximum spotlight would be Connor Williams, who at 27 is a rather late starter in international cricket.


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Pakistan cruise into final

Sharjah, October 31
Pakistan shrugged off a 146-run stand from the Flower brothers as they confirmed their place in the Sharjah Champions Trophy final on Wednesday.

Their 29-run win, inspired by Shahid Afridi and pace bowlers Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram, also condemned Zimbabwe to a 16th successive one-day defeat in a row.

Pakistan looked in control for most of the match after one-day specialist Afridi had hit six sixes in a 34-ball half-century to help them to 261 for nine off their 50 overs.

Waqar then took two wickets in four balls to reduce the Zimbabweans to 13 for two, only for Grant and Andy Flower to resurrect the match.

They scored at six runs an over from the start, stealing sharp singles and constantly rotating the strike.

But left-arm pace bowler Akram bettered Waqar’s earlier burst with two wickets in three balls to all but settle the game.

Andy Flower, deceived by Akram’s slower delivery, offered a return catch after making 48 and Dion Ebrahim failed to get off the mark before edging behind, a diving Rashid Latif completing the catch to make it 159 for four.

Soon after, Grant Flower, on 91, was unluckily run out, a return drive from the spirited Doug Marillier coming off bowler Azhar Mahmood’s fingertips onto the non-striker stumps.

Flower hit 11 boundaries in his 128-ball innings while Marillier hit a rapid 37 before the innings ended on 232 all out after 46.2 overs. Skipper Waqar took three for 41 and Wasim three for 19 off a splendid nine overs.

Sri Lanka, unbeaten after three games, and Pakistan play on Friday in the final round-robin match before meeting again in Sunday’s final.

Earlier, Pakistan, opting to bat and given the perfect start by Afridi’s fireworks, had looked perfectly placed at 205 for three with just over 10 overs remaining.

But six wickets, including three in successive overs and two run-outs, then fell for 45 runs.

The 21-year-old Afridi had savaged right-arm seamer Gary Brent in particular, greeting his first ball with a six over long on and repeating the dose next ball over the covers.

When Brent dared return for a second over, the first two deliveries also disappeared for sixes. Brent did manage two wickets to Sean Ervine’s three but he conceded 51 from seven eventful overs.

Scoreboard

Pakistan

Latif c Gripper b Streak 7

Afridi c Gripper b Marillier 58

Youhana Ibw b Brent 41

Haq c Murphy b Ervine 21

Khan c Marillier b Ervine 59

Mahmood c Brent b Ervine 29

Razzaq run out 10

Latif c Murphy b Brent 4

Akram run out 2

Waqar not out 8

Kaneria not out 3

Extras: (Ib-3 w-5 nb-11) 19

Total: (for 9 wkts, 50 overs) 261

Fall of wickets: 1-23, 2-87, 3-152, 4-205, 5-218, 6-224, 7-227, 8-237, 9-251.

Bowling: Streak 10-1-36-1, Olonga 8-0-34-0, Brent 7-0-51-2, Marillier 8-0-49-1, Murphy 5-0-37-0, G. Flower 5-0-22-0, Ervine 7-0-29-3 (w-1).

Zimbabwe

G. Flower run out 91

Gripper c Youhana b Waqar 4

Carlisle c Latif b Waqar 0

A Flower c&b Akram 48

Ebrahim c Latif b Akram 0

Marillier c Azhar b Waqar 37

Ervine c Waqar b Razzaq 0

Streak c&b Razzaq 1

Brent not out 18

Murphy c Latif b Akram 4

Olonga run out 0

Extras 29

Total (all out in 46 overs) 232

Fall of wickets: 1/12, 2/13, 3/159, 4/159, 5/169, 6/169, 7/175, 8/219, 9/231.

Bowling: Kaneria 7-0-43-0, Waqar 9.2-1-41-3, Mahmood 8-0-43-0, Akram 9-3-19-3, Razzaq 8-0-48-2, Afridi 5-0-28-0. Reuters
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Anandpur Sahib gears up for National Games
Arvind Katyal

Chandigarh, October 31
The Dasmesh Academy of Martial arts and Guru Teg Bahadur Sarai, Anandpur Sahib, will play host to the nearly 1,000 sportspersons and officials from all over the country during the forthcoming National Games. The martial arts academy, which came into being on April 10,1999, is all ready to hold competitions in judo, fencing, taekwondo and netball.

The players will start arriving after November 16. Women players will be lodged in the vicinity of the complex while the men would be lodged at Guru Teg Bahadur Sarai, about 4 km from the venue. The players will be taken to Ludhiana for the inauguration ceremony on November 19.

The fencing event for men and women will be held from November 20 to 22, followed by taekwondo for men and women from November 23 to 26 and judo events will be held from November 27 to 30.

Mr T. C. Gupta, Chairman, media committee of the games, said the players who wish to come early for the inauguration ceremony will be hosted even if their events started late. Mr Gupta, who is also the President, Punjab Judo Association, said Punjab expected to win around eight gold medals and an equal number of silver and bronze medals in the games. Gold medal prospects were Navjot (56 kg), Jitender or Ritesh (60 kg), Rakesh or Bhupinder (66 kg), Pankaj (70 kg), Jaipal (90 kg) and Pawan (Open category). Four gold medals were expected from women players, he said.

The coaching camps for the state judo players are already in progress and the final selection will be made after the judo meet to be held on November 10 and 11 at the same venue. The Agglorex-make mats from Belgium are to be used in the meet.

Apart from judo, the fencing contingent is hopeful of securing about 10 medals. Mr A. Vij, secretary, Punjab Fencing Association, said in the last National Games in Manipur in 1999, Punjab had won nine medals. This year their main medal aspirants were Parminder, Vikram, Charanjit Kaur and Sarabjit Kaur, among others. A total of 110 men and 70 women, along with 35 technical officials will arrive here for the fencing event. Punjab will field strong team of 16 men and 10 women and the final camp of the team is to begin from November 4.

Mr Gurbir Sandhu, President, netball federation of India, said the final dates for this event making a debut in these games were yet to be finalised.

Avtar Singh, District Sports Officer, said 250 netball players and officials would be added to the 735 numbered earlier. The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr G.S. Grewal, had reviewed the arrangements in a meeting held a few days earlier and had found it satisfactory.
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National Games: important meeting today
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 31
At last the Punjab Government has got down to serious business with regard to the conduct of the National Games.

Two important meetings have been lined up — the first on November 2 which will be cleared by the Chief Secretary and the second on November 4, where the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, will preside.

Besides reviewing the preparation for the conduct of the Games at 21 venues in five cities from November 19 to December 1, the coming meetings would also sort out various interdepartmental issues.

Important items on the agenda of the two meetings are rescheduling of vacational calendar of educational institutions in the state in general and four host cities — Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala and Ropar (Anandpur Sahib and SAS Nagar) — in particular, review of sports and civic infrastructure of all the venues and review of boarding and lodging facilities at universities and colleges of the state and back up support to the organising committee from various departments of the state. The most important item on the agenda is the non-release of funds by the Finance Department. Review of security arrangements and deployment of medical and paramedical staff at all the venues are the other items on the agenda.

Sources reveal that the organising committee is not very happy over the financial health of the Games. Against an estimated budget of Rs 46 crores for the conduct of the Games, a sum of Rs 23.85 cr was earmarked for infrastructure, including construction of new stadia, renovation of old and additions in some existing stadia. Besides Rs 6 crore was earmarked for equipment and Rs 16 crore for the conduct of the Games.

Though the Finance Department has released Rs 17.24 crore for the infrastructure, not even a penny has been released for the conduct of the National Games.

The Union Government reportedly released Rs 18.50 crore in July last year for the conduct of the Games. The Finance Department only released Rs 5 crore from this money while the remaining amount is yet to be given to the OCNG. Besides another grant of Rs 2.75 cr released by the centre for various civil projects related to the National Games has remained with the Finance Department only. The OCNG wants that all these matters pertaining to funds should be settled immediately so that holding of the prestigious event is not jeopardised.

There is still a lot of wet paint around as far as civil works at various venues is concerned. The main worry for the OCNG has been the accommodation for 10,000-odd participants. Initially, and even now, it is planned that college and university hostels would be used to accommodate athletes and conduct officials.

This would necessitate rescheduling of vacational calendar of the colleges and universities, to which the universities are presently opposed on the plea that closing of colleges at this crucial juncture of the academic year may not be feasible. The OCNG wants the vacations to be rescheduled keeping in view the prestige of the event the state is holding. Though a letter has already been sent to the Vice-Chancellors from the Chief Secretary for providing all assistance and help in the conduct of the Games, sources in the Education Department maintain that at no stage rescheduling of vacational calendar was ever suggested or proposed earlier. A change at this juncture, they said, would be detrimental to the academic atmosphere.

The OCNG is also keen for full back up support from all other administrative departments. In Ludhiana, the Chief Minister is also expected to inspect all the venues.

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Athletes’ threat to boycott Games
Our Sports Reporter

Patiala, October 31
Top athletes having affiliation with the Punjab Amateur Athletic Association have threatened to boycott the forthcoming National Games if the present set of PAAA office-bearers, including its president Mr Umrao Singh, and secretary Ishar Singh Deol, are not immediately removed from their posts.

Seven times national discus throw champion and member of the 1996 Seoul Asian Games squad, K.P. S Brar, said a feeling of frustration had set in among the athletics fraternity as both Mr Umrao Singh and Mr I.S Deol were sabotaging the interests of the athletes.

Showing a list of 200 athletes who had affixed their signatures, Brar said none of them would be participating in the National Games if the PAAA was not revamped immediately. Those who have affixed their signatures include Olympians Neelam J Singh, Paramjit Singh, Bahadur Singh and Ajay Raj Singh and other top international athletes like Gurpreet Singh, who recently lowered the 37- year-old 110m hurdles mark of G.S Randhawa, Gurmeet Kaur and R.S Bal.
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Dravid to play despite injury

Durban, October 31
Indian vice-captain Rahul Dravid today brushed aside speculations on his shoulder injury and said he would play in the Test series against South Africa starting here on Saturday.

“I am completely focussed on the coming three-Test series and (ready to) perform to the best of my ability,” Dravid said. “I can be asked to throw from any part of the ground,” he asserted.

Dravid was yesterday diagnosed to have a rupture in his shoulder cartilege — an injury he was said to have been carrying for the last four years — and his participation in the Test series came under doubt.

Dr Joe de Beer, a shoulder specialist whom Dravid consulted in Cape Town, had said the stylish batsman could play in the Test matches but ran the risk of agggravating his injury further. In any case, Dravid should field only in close in positions as throwing from the boundary would be detrimental to his injury, the doctor had maintained.

Team manager M.K. Bhargava today sought to downplay the injury, saying it was normal with anyone involved in a ‘throwing sport’. “Dravid is fit to participate in all future Indian cricket fixtures,” Bhargava said in a statement.

“Rahul has been complaining of a niggle in his right shoulder interminably for four years. His obvious discomfort, however, has not prevented him from participating and performing in international cricket. Earlier investigations did not reveal any pathology,” Bhargava said.

KOLKATA: The BCCI will take a final decision on whether to play injured vice-captain Rahul Dravid in the coming Test series against South Africa after receiving a detailed medical report from the team management.

“We have been informed about Dravid’s injury and we will take a decision only after receiving the details,” BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya told PTI here today. PTI

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Windies to focus on cricket, not security

Bridgetown October 31
The West Indies team departed for troubled Sri Lanka yesterday insisting they are not worried about safety but on winning Tests and ensuring injury-plagued players will be ready for play.

“We are totally focused and committed to playing good cricket in Sri Lanka and what’s happening off the field, I suppose will take care of itself,” said captain Carl Hooper before the team’s departure yesterday from Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados.

The tour starts with a three-day match against a Sri Lanka ‘A’ team in Colombo this weekend. The first of three Tests is in Galle from November 13 to 17; a triangular series of one-day internationals also involving Zimbabwe runs from December 8 to 20.

Safety concerns, already at a peak after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the USA, were heightened after Sri Lanka announced general elections would be held on December 5.

In the past two days, suicide bomb attacks that the government blames on separatist Tamil Tiger rebels killed several people in Sri Lanka.

But team manager Ricky Skerritt said Caribbean cricket players were used to play amid political upheaval.

“We have experienced political violence here in the Caribbean,” he said. “Cricketers tend to get very protected from that reality.”

He said the West Indies played a Test in Guyana earlier this year against South Africa before violence-plagued general elections.

The West Indies Cricket Board decided to go ahead with the tour only after Sri Lankan authorities promised the tightest security possible. Players will not go anywhere without bodyguards.

But a bigger worry for the West Indies team may be injuries.

The biggest question mark is star batsman Brian Lara, who will join the Sri Lanka-bound team in London. Lara has had recurring problems with his hamstring. The injury forced him to abandon the last West Indies international trip, the tour in Zimbabwe this summer.

Team officials did a battery of tests on Lara before clearing him for the Sri Lanka tour.

Another experienced left-hander, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, has been ruled out with a back strain and his replacement Wavell Hinds had his nose broken over the weekend in Jamaica. Hinds is supposed to fly out to join the team next week.

Wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs has had recent surgery on a finger and has not been tested in a match since the operation.

West Indies: Carl Hooper (capt), Ridley Jacobs, Chris Gayle, Daren Ganga, Leon Garrick, Wavell Hinds, Brian Lara, Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Mervyn Dillon, Pedro Collins, Marlon Black, Reon King, Colin Stuart, Dinanath Ramnarine and Neil McGarrell. AP
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India’s tour match washed out

Durban, October 31
The third and final day’s play in India’s tour match against a South African President’s XI today was abandoned without a ball being bowled after overnight rain left the outfield waterlogged.

The opening two days of the game at Chatsworth were also washed out.

The first of India’s three Tests against South Africa is scheduled to start in Bloemfontein on Saturday. Reuters
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Sodhi ruled out as Punjab face HP
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, October 31
Young allrounder Reetinder Sodhi has been ruled out while uncertainty remains regarding off-spinner Sarandeep Singh as Punjab take on Himachal Pradesh in the inaugural match of the four-day North Zone Ranji Trophy league match at the PCA Stadium here tomorrow.

Reetinder Sodhi, just back after playing in the triangular series which besides India included South Africa and Zimbabwe, has been advised one-week’s rest due to a minor injury in the left foot which rules him out for this fixture.

Sarandeep has desired to play for Delhi from this season but is yet get a nod for the same. If he gets the clearance to play for Delhi leg-spinner Sandeep Sawal will be included in the squad.

Himachal have been bolstered by the presence of hard-hitting all rounder Sandeep Sharma, who till recently spearheaded the Punjab pace bowling attack, and former Railways opener Raja Ali.

Squads (from):

Punjab: Vikram Rathore (skipper), Munish Sharma, Ravneet Ricky, Dinesh Mongia, Pankaj Dharmani, Yuvraj Singh, Sarandeep Singh, Gagandeep Singh, Vineet Sharma, Babloo Kumar, Amit Uniyal and Sandeep Sawal.

Himachal: Verinder Sharma (capt), Nischal Gaur, Rajiv Nayyar, Amit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma, Raja Ali, Ravi Kant Sharma, Chetan Kumar, Shakti Singh, Ashok Kumar, Rahul Panta, Vishal Bhatia, Hitesh Angrish, Surinderpal Singh, Rajinder Thakur, Sangram Singh and Puneet Lath.

Rohtak: Bitter memories of their last encounter against Jammu and Kashmir haunt Haryana, as they take on the same opponents in the opening match of the North Zone Ranji league at Maharaja Aggarsain Stadium here on Thursday.

Haryana enter the fray without experienced batsman Rajesh Puri, left arm leg spinner Sonu Sharma and all-rounder Sanjay Dalal, but the team has several talented youngsters, who have proved their potential on different turfs. These include Ishan Ganda, Shafiq Khan and Amit Mishra and Vidhut Shivaramakrishan. Vidhut represented Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy last year and also scored a century in the super league while batting at No 11. Stumper Ajay Ratra is also considered a potential candidate for international cricket.

Jammu and Kashmir generally considered weak opponents, had a fruitful season last year. They not only entered the super league along with Delhi and Punjab, but also registered outright victories against Himachal Pradesh, Services and Haryana. In fact, it was this nine-wicket defeat which had restricted Haryana’s eventually finished fourth in the North Zone league behind Punjab, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir.

The teams:

Haryana (from): Parinder Sharma (captain), Padamjeet, Satish Ohlan, S. Vidhut, Ishan Ganda, Shafiq Khan, Chetan Sharma, Sumit Narwal, Gaurav Vashishta, Ajay Ratra (wk), Amit Mishra, Vineet Singh, Sumit Sharma, Deepak Kaushik, Ram Gopal, Gurpreet Singh.

Jammu and Kashmir (from): Vijay Sharma (captain), Surinder Singh Badal, Raju Sharma, Dhruv Mahajan, Kamaljeet Singh, Ashwani Gupta, Jagtar Singh, Samir Khajuria, Vikrant Taggar, Iqubal Bhah, Arshad Ahmad Butt, Shabir Kanth, Sihag Ahmed Hazari, Arshad Ahmed Jaan, Abdul Quoom, Ranjit Bali.

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Patiala win team championship
Our Sports Reporter

Chandigarh, October 31
Patiala won both sabre and epee men’s team championship while Fatehgarh Sahib became the winners in the women sabre event team championships in the 20th senior Punjab State Fencing Championships which concluded today at Dashmesh Academy of Martial Arts, Anandpur Sahib. Earlier Patiala had won the women’s section epee and foil team event and also the men’s foil event.

Mr GS Grewal, Deputy Commissioner, Ropar was the chief guest and gave away the prizes.

Results:

Men: Individual events — Foil: Vikramjeet Singh (Pta) 1, Hardeep Singh (Pta) 2.

Epee: Preet Mohinder (Pta) 1, Manmeet Singh (Pta) 2.

Sabre: Harpreet (Pta) 1.

Women: Foil:Sarbjeet Kaur (Pta) 1, Aneet Kaur (Pta) 2. Epee: Sarbjeet Kaur (Pta) 1, Karamjeet Kaur (Fatehgarh) 2. Sabre: Navjot Kaur (FGS) 1, Sukhleen Kaur (Pta) 2.
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Irina surges ahead in Quark Golf
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 31
Top seed and local favourite Irina Brar showed her class today. Playing a steady game she surged ahead with a two-stroke lead over her nearest rival Shruti Khanna after the second round of the ninth Punjab Open Quark Ladies Amateur Golf Championship at the Chandigarh Golf Club course.

Irina had birdies on the 12th and 14th holes. Playing a par game on the other holes she lost a stroke with a bogey on the 15th hole to return a one-under card of 71 for a two-day aggregate of 144. Trailing by two strokes was Shruti Khanna.

But it was a bad day for Parneeta Garewal. Nothing seemed to go right for her as she ended up with a disappointing card of 10-over 82. With two days to go the fight for the leadership is still open between Irina and Shruti. Mayali Talwar of Delhi had a good round of 76.

In the silver division Komal Jawanda had a tremendous round. She got a card of 84 nett, six under her handicap. In the bronze division Harsharan Kaur maintained her lead, but Gaitri M. M. Singh moved up to second position.

The super senior challenge ended today with Mrs Nirmal Milkha Singh winning the gross and Mrs Darshi Narang winning the nett.

The scores

Quark Overall Championship: Irina Brar 144, Shruti Khanna 146, Parneeta Garewal 153

Quark Silver Salver (0-12) nett: Shruti Khanna 140, Mayali Talwar 141

Quark Challenge Bowl (13-24): Gross — Komal Jawanda 172, Kanika Minocha 173. Nett —Kanika Minocha 135, Komal Jawanda 136.

Quark Bronze Plate (25-36): Gross — Harsharan Kaur 200, Gaitri M. M. Singh 208; Nett — Darshi Narang 147, Harsharan Kaur 148.

Quark Junior Shield (below 18): Gross — Mayali Talwar 155, Pragya Mishra 161; Nett — Kanika Minocha 135, Mazyali Talwar 141.

Quark Subjunior Shield (below 14): Gross — Kanika Minocha 173, Vaishvi Sinha 184; Nett — Kanika minocha 135, Nitika Jadeja 143.

Quark Senior Challenge (Above 50): Gross — S. Ratia 174, Harinder Sandhu 185; Nett —Veenu Sandhu 140, Dalbir Sahi 146.

Quark Super Senior: Gross winner Nirmal Milkha Singh, Nett winner Darshi Narang.

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Connor Williams in hot seat

Durban, October 31
It couldn’t have been a more difficult initiation into international cricket for an Indian opener.

As India prepare to take on South Africa in the Test series, the man under maximum spotlight would be Connor Williams, who at 27 is a rather late starter in international cricket.

The left-hander from Baroda finds himself in a rather unenvious position of opening the innings against a formidable pace attack on pitches that are in marked contrast to what he has been accustomed to till now.

“The first day I patted the wicket in the nets, I thought I was hitting cement. These tracks are so different from the ones we face in India,” was the first assesment of Williams of the hard and bouncy pitches in this country.

And then came the confession. “I would like to confess that I am not a great puller or hooker.” It might be too big a confession to make when a world is expected of him.

But Williams, who has a very impressive record in the five years of domestic cricket, having scored over 3,300 runs with eight centuries at an average of 45 plus, knows his strengths and weaknesses and also has an idea of what to expect in the coming matches.

“Basically, I am strong on the off-side and love hitting in the covers,” he said. “But I am sure I would not get many such deliveries to hit on this tour.”

Brought into the squad after Sadgopan Ramesh was ruled out due to an injury, Williams is not a compulsive chaser of the ball outside the off-stump, like many other left-handers.

“I generally like to let the ball go as much as I can,” Williams said. That should please captain Saurav Ganguly and coach John Wright who have been working with the new opener for the last few days.

“Saurav spent a great deal of time and generally told me how best I should prepare for these kind of wickets and South African fast bowlers,” said Williams looking suitably impressed with the lessons he received from Ganguly and Wright, both openers in their own right. “John (Wright) asked me to make sure I leave a lot of deliveries in my initial stay on these wickets. He said I must be prepared to bat for at least one and half hours,” he said. PTI

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Tennis trials
Our Sports Reporter

Chandigarh, October 31
Selection trials to pick the Punjab Civil Services lawn tennis team will be held on November 3 at 9 am at the CLTA tennis stadium, Sector 10. According to Col Raminder Singh, Director Sports, Punjab, the state team thus selected will take part in the All India Civil Services tennis meet to be held at Chandigarh from November 5 to 10. He said all the employees of the Punjab Government were eligible to participate in the above trials.

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 SPORTS BRIEFS

CADDICK, CROFT TO FORFEIT £ 25,000 EACH
LONDON:
Paceman Andrew Caddick and spinner Robert Croft, who have pulled out of the England squad to tour India next month due to security fears, will have to forfeit £ 25,000 each. The pair will also have to wait until after the India tour to find out if they will suffer further financial penalty. As of now they have lost half their winter tour fee, and that figure will double if they are not selected for the trip to New Zealand in February, sources said on Wednesday. Marcus Trescothick, Ashley Giles and Craig White, all of whom expressed apprehensions about touring following the escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan, yesterday confirmed their availability. However, Giles and White will need to pass fitness tests next Wednesday. Giles put his chances of being fit at no higher than 50-50. The England squad is scheduled to reach India on November 14 for its 40-day three-Test tour. Replacements for Caddick and Croft will be announced late in the week after discussions between chairman of selectors David Graveney, his co-selector Geoff Miller, skipper Nasser Hussain and coach Duncan Fletcher. PTI

LIFE BAN CONFIRMED
PRAGUE:
The arbitrary body of the Czech track and field association upheld a lifetime ban on shot putter Miroslav Menc on Tuesday which was imposed in August after the athlete failed a dope test for the second time in three years. Menc tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone in an out-of-competition test on April 26. The Czech Athletics Association suspended the athlete in June after the B-sample confirmed the level of nandrolone in his system exceeded the established limit 23 times, and issued a life ban two months later. Menc immediately appealed. AP

AUSSIE TEAM
SYDNEY:
Australia’s cricket selectors on Wednesday named the same 11 players who won the fifth Ashes Test at the Oval in August plus Queensland fast bowler Andy Bichel as 12th man for the first Test against New Zealand at Brisbane’s Gabba ground from November 8. Team: Steve Waugh (capt), Adam Gilchrist (vice-capt), Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh, Damien Martyn, Brett Lee, Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie, Glenn McGrath, Andy Bichel. AFP

GOA SOCCER LEAGUE
MARGAO:
Salgaocar Sports Club scored an easy 3-0 win over Sporting Clube de Goa to finish second in Goa’s professional football league at the Nehru Stadium here on Tuesday. Playing a subdued game in the first half, Salgaocar came back strongly in the second half and scored through Alvito D’Cunha, Jatin Bist and Bruno Coutinho, after the first half went goal-less. The winners finished their league engagement in second spot behind Zee Churchill, with 17 points. PTI
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