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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
S P O R T S

Gagan, Prabhjot out, Rajinder stays
Chandigarh, February 2

Gagan Ajit Singh, Prabhjot Singh, Deepak Thakur and Viren Rasquinha could not make it to the team of 20 probables for forthcoming Indo-Pak series in February and Commonwealth Games in March this year.

K.P.S. Gill, President, Indian Hockey Federation, during a press conference at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium on Thursday.
K.P.S. Gill, President, Indian Hockey Federation, during a press conference at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium on Thursday. — Tribune photo by Pradeep Tewari
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‘Rural sports festivals can revive hockey’
Chandigarh, February 2
“If kabaddi continues to be number one team game in Punjab, it is primarily because of rural sports festivals, which every other big village in the state holds between December and March every year,” says Mr Sukhvir Singh Grewal, chief organiser of the Rural Olympics of Kila Raipur.





EARLIER STORIES
 

Woolmer hits back at Chappell
Shoaib’s action row
Lahore, February 2
Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer has joined the war of words with his India counterpart Greg Chappell after the latter’s observation that there was something seriously ‘different’ with speedster Shoaib Akhtar’s action.

India drop to third in Test rankings
Dubai, February 2
India’s 1-0 series loss to Pakistan has cost them their coveted status of the second best Test side in the world in the latest LG ICC Test rankings. Greg Chappell’s men have slipped down to third spot after losing the third Test in Karachi yesterday.

UP win Ranji for first time
Lucknow, February 2
The slender 14-run first innings lead made all the difference as Uttar Pradesh, under the mercurial leadership of Mohammed Kaif, frustrated Bengal to win their first ever Ranji Trophy title at the K.D. Singh Babu Stadium here today.

  • Cricket series
East Bengal win as JCT score self-goal
Ludhiana, February 2
A self-goal off a deflection by stopper back Narinder Singh cost JCT Mills dear, as they went down fighting to East Bengal 0-1 in the sixth round of the 10th National Football League at Guru Nanak Stadium here today.

East Bengal’s Ndem A. Kiyeck (No. 20) tries to stop JCT’s Marcos Pereira as Baichung Bhutia (15) looks on, in a National Football League match at Ludhiana’s Guru nanak Stadium on Thursday. — Tribune photo by Sayeed Ahmed 
East Bengal’s Ndem A. Kiyeck (No. 20) tries to stop JCT’s Marcos Pereira as Baichung Bhutia (15) looks on, in a National Football League match at Ludhiana’s Guru nanak Stadium on Thursday.

44 pugilists shortlisted for C’wealth Games
Patiala, February 2
The Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) has shortlisted names of 44 pugilists for the Commonwealth Games slated to be held in Melbourne from March 17 to 27.

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Gagan, Prabhjot out, Rajinder stays
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Gagan Ajit Singh, Prabhjot Singh, Deepak Thakur and Viren Rasquinha could not make it to the team of 20 probables for forthcoming Indo-Pak series in February and Commonwealth Games in March this year.

The list of the probables was announced by the president of Indian Hockey Federation, Mr K. P. S. Gill, at Hockey Stadium, Sector 42, here today.

“We have other plans for Gagan, Deepak and Prabhjot as they will be used in the next major tournaments,” said Mr Gill while giving the reasons of keeping out the players.

However, he also conceded later that their poor performance in big tournaments held recently, was also the reason for their exclusion. “Viren Rasquinha has been dropped because of fitness problem,” he added. Forwards William Xalco, Ravi Pal and V. Raja Rajan were the other players, who could not get berth in the list.

Sardara Singh and Shivender Singh, who impressed the hockey officials with their fine performance in the PHL, were the new faces whereas Tejbir Singh and Didar Singh made their comeback in the top 20.

Dilip Tirkey, who had missed the Champions Trophy in December would lead the team.

Exonerating chief coach Rajinder Singh of the dismal performance of the team in big events, Mr Gill put a stop on all speculations of his (Rajinder) ousting. “The coach could not be held responsible for the stupid mistakes of the players,” said Mr Gill.

Out of the six matches for Indo-Pak series, three will be played in India (Chandigarh: February 16 and 18, Jalandhar: February 20) while the team of 18 would then cross over to Pakistan to play at Rawalpindi (February 21), Faisalabad (February 23) and Lahore (February 25).

“The team of 16 players, who will take part in the 
Commonwealth Games at Melbourne in March, also be selected from these probables,” said Mr Gill.

The probables are: Goalkeepers: Bharat Chetri and Adrian D Souza; Full Backs: Dilip Tirkey, Kanwalpreet Singh, Harpal Singh and Raghunath. Mid-Fielders: V. S. Vinaya, Vikram Pillay, Ignace Tirkey, Prabodh Tirkey, Sandeep Singh. Forwards: Rajpal Singh, Didar Singh, Sardara Singh, Tushar Khandekar, Tejbir Singh, Arjun Halappa, Adam Sinclair, Shivender Singh, Hari Prasad.

Poor refereeing
Chandigarh
: Indian Hockey Federation chief KPS Gill on Thursday disagreed that refereeing in domestic tournaments was poor but acknowledged that some system was needed to monitor the umpires’ performance. Gill said that concerned by the recent spate of complaints over refereeing standard in domestic tournaments, the IHF was planning to assess referees’ decisions in each tournament. “Some umpires do make mistakes. From next year on, the IHF is thinking of assessment of umpires after a tournament is over,” Gill said. Gill’s response came after his attention was drawn to protest by players and coaches over a few controversial decisions in the Premier Hockey League. — PTI

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‘Rural sports festivals can revive hockey’
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
“If kabaddi continues to be number one team game in Punjab, it is primarily because of rural sports festivals, which every other big village in the state holds between December and March every year,” says Mr Sukhvir Singh Grewal, chief organiser of the Rural Olympics of Kila Raipur.

Mr Grewal, who has been nominated a member of the special committee of Olympians and international players for taking various sports to the grassroot level by the Punjab Sports Department, feels that like kabaddi, hockey, football, basketball and volleyball can be other team sports which rural sports festivals can help in widening their base.

The views of Mr Grewal are corroborated by organisers of several other major rural festivals, including Mr Kulwant Singh and Mr Jagroop Singh of Jarkhar (Ludhiana) and Mr Santokh Singh Mander of Hakimpur (Nawanshahr).

Even the Director of Sports, Mr Pargat Singh, and Olympian Ramandeep Singh Grewal, also agree that rural sports can play a major role in reviving hockey in Punjab.

“With a little government support, these festivals can be used for nurturing talent at grassroot level in popular team sports like hockey, football and volleyball,” says Mr Santokh Singh Mander, an international kabaddi umpire and a former handball coach in the Panchayati Raj Khed Parishad.

“The main stay of rural sports has been public participation. These are the people who not only contribute financially but also volunteer to look after various aspects of the conduct of these annual events which attract big crowds. One of reasons of popularity of kabaddi (circle style) has been the unstinted support it is getting from overseas Punjabis for whom second love after kabaddi is hockey,” adds Mr Mander.

“When the promoters of Kila Raipur Rural Sports Festivals started the games in early 30s, they made hockey a part of the programme. That is why Kila Raipur has been regularly producing good hockey players. Dhanwant Gold Cup continues to carry the biggest yellow metal award in the sport today,” adds Mr Sukhvir Grewal.

They all agree that if two separate competitions for hockey players under-19 and above-19 are introduced in each rural sports festival, Indian hockey in general and Punjab 
hockey in particular will have plenty of good talented and robust hockey players. All you have to do is introduce some incentives like Kila Raipur or Jarkhar where teams finishing among the top three get cash awards,” says Mr Jagroop Singh.

Mata Sahib Kaur Rural Sports Festival, featuring some top hockey teams, starts in Jarkhar tomorrow. Like previous years, some of prominent hockey Olympians and internationals, including Kanwalpreet Singh, and coach Baldev Singh, would be felicitated this time.

In most of the rural sports festivals, a major chunk of financial support comes from overseas Punjabis as is the case with the Purewal International Sports and Cultural Rural Sports Festival which is held at Hakimpur in Nawanshahr every year.

“We spend about Rs 40 lakh on various indigenous and regular sports, including kabaddi, wrestling, tug-of-war, weightlifting, body building and bullock cart races. If we get a good hockey playfield, we may introduce competition in hockey also, says Mr Santokh Singh Mander.

This time, the Hakimpur festival will be held from February 10 to 12, said Mr Gurjit Singh Purewal, president of the British Columbia Kabaddi Cultural Federation, the organiser of the games.

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Woolmer hits back at Chappell
Shoaib’s action row

Lahore, February 2
Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer has joined the war of words with his India counterpart Greg Chappell after the latter’s observation that there was something seriously ‘different’ with speedster Shoaib Akhtar’s action.

Chappell told the media that Shoaib’s action was very difficult to pick up and he demanded the pacer should be tested again.

Irked by Chappell’s remark, Woolmer told BBC Sport: “The International Cricket Council has a report circulating which says he is not to be questioned again.” Woolmer said, “To bring it up during a Test match and blast it all over the papers is disappointing and hard on the player.”

Shoaib, who took three wickets in the deciding final match yesterday, was suspended in 1999 for a suspect action before being cleared when it was found that his elbow is built with extra flex resulting in “hyperextension”. An adamant Chappell, however, refused to buy the argument and insisted it could not be attributed to deformity.

Bio-mechanics expert Bruce Elliott, who supervised Shoaib’s remedial measures, however, sided with the pacer and said re-examining won’t serve any purpose for Shoaib has already been tested and cleared.

Woolmer, impressed by the pacer’s ability to bounce back despite controversies, said, “It’s tough on him but I thought he responded magnificently.”

Chappell’s remarks also incurred the wrath of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) which is examining the veracity of whether he actually made those remarks. According to a board official, the PCB has already written to Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle, besides seeking a clarification from Team India.

Meanwhile, an irate Shoaib has threatened legal action against people trying to tarnish his name with chucking allegations. — UNI

Iqbal in ODI squad 

Karachi: Pakistan cricket selectors today dropped bowlers Danish Kaneria and Mohammad Sami while rewarding third Test centurion Faisal Iqbal with a berth in the 16-member squad for the first three one-day games against India.

Besides Faisal, the selectors also recalled all-rounders Shoaib Malik and Yasir Arafat in the squad to be captained by the fit-again Inzamam-ul Haq.

The axe fell on leg-spinner Kaneria, who managed just five wickets in three Tests, and Sami who failed to get any wicket in the only game he played at Lahore.

Team: Inzamam-ul-Haq (captain), Younis Khan (vice-captain), Salman Butt, Shoaib Malik, Imran Farhat, Mohammad Yousuf, Faisal Iqbal, Kamran Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Yasir Arafat, Umer Gul and Arshad Khan. — PTI

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India drop to third in Test rankings

Dubai, February 2
India’s 1-0 series loss to Pakistan has cost them their coveted status of the second best Test side in the world in the latest LG ICC Test rankings. Greg Chappell’s men have slipped down to third spot after losing the third Test in Karachi yesterday.

The 341-run defeat cut India’s rating points from 115 to 111 and dropped them into third place below England, who have 113 points. Australia are way ahead at the top with 129 points.

For Pakistan, the series win not only made amends for their 2-1 home defeat at the hands of their arch-rivals two years ago but also boosted their rating in the Test Championship table. Although they have not moved up and remain in fourth position, Pakistan still gained five rating points because of the victory and now stand on 108 points, just three behind India.

India had held the second spot in the ICC Test Championship table for just over a month, having assumed that position in late December after to a 2-0 series win against Sri Lanka, coupled with England’s 2-0 drubbing in Pakistan.

Pakistan are also now very much in the battle for the second spot as they have a series against Sri Lanka in March.

In the ICC Player Rankings, Indian skipper Rahul Dravid’s twin failures in Karachi have cost him a place in the top five batsmen. Dravid is now in sixth place and although he remains India’s top-ranked batsman, his rating and ranking is his lowest in two years.

Dravid is not alone among India’s batsmen in slipping down the rankings. Despite a double century at Lahore, Virender Sehwag is down two places to ninth while Sachin Tendulkar slips one spot to 12th and VVS Laxman has gone two notches down to 23rd.

India’s one ray of light in the batting listings is Yuvraj Singh, who made his second Test hundred in Karachi. Yuvraj moved up 23 places and is now joint 44th (along with Pakistan opener Salman Butt), his first time in the top 50.

Pakistan retained three batsmen in the top 10 places with Inzamam-ul-Haq, who missed the third Test with a back injury, in fifth place, along with Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf. — PTI

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UP win Ranji for first time

Lucknow, February 2
The slender 14-run first innings lead made all the difference as Uttar Pradesh, under the mercurial leadership of Mohammed Kaif, frustrated Bengal to win their first ever Ranji Trophy title at the K.D. Singh Babu Stadium here today.

The hosts, who scored 387 in the first essay and managed a vital 14-run lead after bowling Bengal out for 373, were all out today for 342 in the second innings.

Aware that the trophy had eluded them, Deep Dasgupta-led Bengal just went through the motions and finished the final day at 142 for five. It was a moment of glory for Kaif who led UP to its maiden Ranji title in the 72-year-old history of the tournament.

After a brilliant 92 in the first innings, Kaif scored a scintillating century (109) and with national team mate Suresh Raina (52) had a perfect warm up for the upcoming one day series in Pakistan. In the past, UP had reached the coveted final thrice, but failed every time.

UPCA secretary Rajeev Shukla announced Rs 5 lakh prize money for the UP team. The BCCI announced to give Rs 1 crore as prize money to the Ranji winners from this year. — UNI

Cricket series
Lucknow
: Adding yet another chapter to the Indo-Pak cricket diplomacy, the cricket boards of the two neighbours have decided to organise a series between their domestic cricket champions. The decision to this effect was taken during the recent visit of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shahryar Khan to New Delhi, media in charge of Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) Rajiv Shukla told newspersons here on Thursday. The inaugural one day series between the Ranji Trophy (elite) champions and the winners of the Quaid-e-Azam (Golden League) Trophy will be played in Pakistan towards the end of 2006, Mr Shukla added. — UNI

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East Bengal win as JCT score self-goal
Amardeep Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 2
A self-goal off a deflection by stopper back Narinder Singh cost JCT Mills dear, as they went down fighting to East Bengal 0-1 in the sixth round of the 10th National Football League at Guru Nanak Stadium here today.

Having dominated the proceedings for long spells, JCT were indeed unlucky to concede the freak goal and miss chances galore to drop crucial points in their first home match. East Bengal, who notched up their third victory today, took their tally to 12 points from six outings.

Led by Indian skipper Baichung Bhutia, East Bengal were in command in the first quarter and kept the mill men under pressure. With star goalkeeper Rajat Ghosh Dastidar doing duty under the bars, East Bengal were well served by key defenders Covan Lawrence and Guy Martial. Martial, a new recruit from Cameroon, was outstanding in aerial duels, utilising his height to full advantage. Compatriot Ndem A. Kiyeck played a pivotal role in the midfield and bolstered the attack led by Bhutia, Syed Rahim Nabi, and K. Kulothungan. He received full support from winger S. Malswamtluanga, who also impressed the large crowd with his lightning moves and excellent ball control.

JCT, who created several good openings, were unlucky in not getting the equaliser. While some moves fizzled out due to lack of finish, East Bengal custodian Dastidar stood in the way on other occasions to deny the mill men valuable points.

The match was hardly nine minutes old when East Bengal’s Ndem A. Kiyeck took control of the ball in JCT’s territory on the right flank. With an eye on the advancing Baichung Bhutia, Ndem despatched a curling right footer towards the box. As luck would have it, JCT deep defender Narinder Singh in an attempt to clear the ball, deflected it into his own goalmouth as custodian Kalyan Chaubey looked on helplessly (1-0). Thereafter East Bengal mounted pressure and off a flag kick, Martial attempted a powerful header but the ball sailed over the bar.

A cross by Baichung Bhutia to S. Malswamtluanga was followed by the latter’s well-directed shot parallel to the goal-line but a JCT defender headed the ball away to safety.

Stung by the reverse, JCT launched a flurry of attacks. A free kick by JCT’s Rennedy Singh from outside the box went abegging as no one was present to provide the finishing touches. Soon after, JCT had another good chance when Sukhwinder Singh attempted to beat the East Bengal goalkeeper with an intelligent header but Dastidar pounced on the ball off the bounce to make a neat collection.

A few minutes before the breather, the diminutive Baldeep Singh, who had come in as a substitute for the injured Sukhjinder, put striker Johnson Banner in possession. The latter rolled the ball goalwards but the move fizzled out as striker Sunil Chhetri was not in position to connect.

In the second half, Brazilian striker Marcos Pereira looked dangerous when he advanced menacingly towards the box but was tripped by Jayanta Sen, who earned a yellow card.

A free kick by Marcos was sought to be connected by a diving Baldeep Singh who lunged forward for a header but unluckily he missed the flight of the ball.

Midway into the second session, JCT initiated another dangerous move. Off a move by Baldeep, striker Sunil Chhetri, formerly of Mohun Bagan, took control of the ball. After cutting into the box, he despatched a powerful piledriver towards the far corner of the net but Rajat stretched his right leg to effect a goal-line save.

Towards the end, East Bengal’s Belgian coach Philippe D’ Ridder effected a couple of substitutions bringing in Alvito D’ Cunha in place of Kulothungan and Gauranga Dutta in place of Soumik Dey. However, the move did not bring about any dramatic change in the complexion of the game.

JCT also replaced an off-colour Johnson with Surjit Singh who showed promise in the dying minutes with a move on the left flank but Baldeep failed to capitalise on the chance. Sunil Chhetri was adjudged man-of-the-match.

JCT sorely missed the services of striker Parveen Kumar, who was out of action following two yellow-card bookings. JCT’s top brass, including Mr Samir Thapar and Mr Rajmohan Singh were among those who had come to witness the gruelling tie.

JCT will now meet defending champions Dempo Sports Club, Goa, in their next home tie here on February 7.

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44 pugilists shortlisted for C’wealth Games
Ravi Dhaliwal

Patiala, February 2
The Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) has shortlisted names of 44 pugilists for the Commonwealth Games slated to be held in Melbourne from March 17 to 27.

The IABF has retained all four boxers who did duty in the 2004 Athens Olympics. They are Diwakar Parsad (57 kg), Akhil Kumar (54 kg), Jitendra Kumar (plus 91 kg) and Vijendra Kumar (69 kg). Acting on the advice of experts, the weight category of Jitendra Kumar has been changed. He has been shifted to the plus 91 kg class from the 81 kg category in which he had qualified for the Athens Olympics while Mohammad Ali Qamar, who just failed to qualify for the Olympics, has been placed in the 51 kg class from the 48 kg category.

Another prominent inclusion is that of Punjab’s Barinder Singh in the 75 kg class. Experts opine that Barinder has been rewarded for his consistently good performances over the year in both the domestic and the international circuit.

The 22-year-old Patiala pugilist, who has made a jump from the 69 kg to the 75 kg weight category for the Commonwealth Games, gave a polished display to win the title in the 75 kg class in the All-India Inter-University boxing meet held in Hisar in 2004 and then successfully defended his title in 2005.

After his title win in Hisar, Barinder, who is currently doing the Diploma in Physical Education at Government Physical Education College here, was called by the IABF to do duty at the President’s cup held in Jakarta (Indonesia) in December, 2004. After his impressive display in Jakarta, the IABF selected him for a training-cum-preparatory stint in Cuba, perceived to be the world’s boxing powerhouse, in March last year, where he underwent training from three-time Olympic champ Felix Savon.

Other probables are: Balbir Singh (Delhi, 48 kg), Paramjit Singh (SSCB, 48 kg), Sanjay Kolte (SSCB, 48 kg), Mohammad Ali Qamar ( RSPB, 51 kg), Arun Singh (AIP, 51 kg), Suranjay Singh (SSCB, 51 kg), Jitendera Kumar (Haryana, 51 kg), Akhil Kumar (RSPB, 54 kg), Bijender Kumar (RSPB, 54 kg), Suresh Singh (CISF, 54 kg), Dalbir Singh (Delhi, 54 kg), Diwakar Parsad (RSPB, 57 kg), A.L Lakra (SSCB, 57 kg), P.Narjit Singh (SSCB, 57 kg), Vikas Malik (Haryana, 60 kg), Jai Bhagwan (RSPB, 60 kg), T.T Singh (SSCB, 60 kg), S.B Pun (SSCB, 64 kg), Manoj Kumar (Haryana, 64 kg), S.B Tamang (Assam Rifles, 64 kg), D.Bhagyarajan (SSCB, 64 kg), Vijender (RSPB, 69 kg), Dilbagh Singh (RSPB, 69 kg), Amarjit Singh (SSCB, 69 kg), Parvinder Singh (RSPB, 75 kg), Barinder Singh (Punjab, 75 kg), Girish Sharma (Rajasthan, 75 kg), Mahendra Thapa (SSCB, 81 kg), Durjay Shastri (RSPB, 81 kg), GK Madhukumar (SSCB, 81 kg), Naveen Kumar (Haryana, 81 kg), Ram Singh (AIP, 81 kg), V.Johnson (SSCB, 91 kg), Harpreet Singh (RSPB, 91 kg), Ajay Kumar (RSPB, 91 kg), Jitendra Kumar ( RSPB, plus 91 kg) , Naveen Rao (Delhi, plus 91 kg), Vinod (Haryana, plus 91 kg).

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 BRIEFLY

Services, UP shine
Kolkata
: Services and Uttar Pradesh dethroned Jharkhand to clinch the Recurve men’s and women’s team titles, respectively, at the 26th senior national archery championships here on Thursday. In men’s final, Services pipped defending champions Jharkhand 242-241 after a close fight at the SAI Eastern Centre. The women’s final saw Uttar Pradesh outwitting Jharkhand 227-219, in a reverse of the summit clash between the two sides at the last nationals. — PTI

Anju honoured
Thiruvananthapuram
: Long Jumper Anju Bobby George and Athlete K M Binu have bagged the Confederation of National and International Sportsmen (CINSA) awards, which were announced here on Thursday. The CINSA awards are given for best sportspersons from Kerala who had fared well in their respective fields and consists of Rs 10,000, a citation and a gold medal. — UNI

Baseball tourney
Rohtak
: Hosts Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU), Rohtak, and Panjab University (PU), Chandigarh, annexed the title in the men’s and women’s category, respectively, in the All-India Inter-University baseball championship which concluded at the MDU sports complex here on Thursday. PU finished runners-up in men’s category while Delhi University were third. In the women’s section MDU emerged runners-up while Punjabi University Patiala bagged the third position. — OC

Rural sports meet
Bhiwani
: As many as 1200 sportsmen from 22 states are participating in the four-day competition being organised jointly by the Sports Authority of India and Sports department Haryana. — OC

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