The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sourav scores 5 lakh, Sachin 4

Calcutta, Oct. 31: On an evening of gestures, the stars sparkled and the Indian Cricket Players’ Association (ICPA) netted Rs 20 lakh during the auction of memorabilia at the Hyatt Regency.

More significant, the response of the corporate sector to the three-day-old ICPA left even president Mansur Ali Khan ‘Tiger’ Pataudi pleasantly surprised. While tycoon Subrata Roy contributed Rs 21 lakh, Jagmohan Dalmiya (in his “personal capacity”) presented Pataudi with a cheque for Rs 1,01,000.

In fact, the board president’s arrival was the most looked-forward-to event and it’s Dalmiya who set the contributions’ ball rolling. Pataudi personally welcomed Dalmiya, perceived as being a hardliner, and no less effusive in their greetings were secretary Arun Lal and Ravi Shastri.

While the board is yet to “discuss” the ICPA’s formation, Dalmiya acted sensibly by accepting its invitation — otherwise, yet another controversy would have hit Indian cricket.

While Lal, especially, was keen that Dalmiya “say a few words”, Pataudi spared the board president any discomfort by saying he “shouldn’t be compelled” to speak against his wishes. “I haven’t come in an official capacity and, so, I shouldn’t be saying anything,” Dalmiya told The Telegraph.

While Dalmiya didn’t stay till 10.30 pm, when the Indian team made its delayed departure, he was very much around when the corporate sector began extending support in such a huge way. The CII, too, is expected to pitch in.

Clearly, whether the ICPA survives or not, it can’t be ignored.

This evening, at least, the Hyatt was the best address in town and the glitterati was seen in some strength. Sanjeev Goenka and Harsh Neotia, Usha Uthup and Debashree Roy.... Nobody wished to miss an experience with a difference.

Quite a few members of the West Indies team also turned up.

The auction-segment began with bids for a pair of gloves Sachin Tendulkar wore during his hundred in Trinidad, earlier this year, and bidder No. 1 was Raj Singh Dungarpur. Though he will be paying Rs 2.5 lakh from his own (sizeable) pocket, the gloves will be featured in the Cricket Club of India’s museum.

Next, Nimbus’ Harish Thawani picked up a bat autographed by the present Indian team for Rs 6 lakh and, in an even better gesture, volunteered to auction replicas and forward every paisa to the ICPA.

Incidentally, it was proved yet again that, in these parts, Sourav Ganguly is king. The bat autographed by him fetched Rs 5 lakh (courtesy Neotia), while the one signed by Sachin went for a lakh less (to Britannia). Neotia also successfully bid for a framed photo of all 10 Anil Kumble victims at the Kotla. He paid Rs 2.5 lakh.

The amount raised at the auction will go to CRY and The Telegraph Education Foundation, besides a fund for “needy” first-class cricketers. In keeping with the theme of the evening, another excellent gesture that.

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