Playing at war
Sir — For all we know, George Bush must be cursing his luck. First, there was the unprecedented anti-war protest all over the world forcing his allies to ask for more time instead of jumping headlong into war. And now Iraq has mysteriously agreed to destroy the banned al Samoud missiles in its possession (“Iraq destroys four missiles”, March 2). What does one believe of this story' Hans Blix’s satisfaction at this “significant piece of real disarmament” or Saddam Hussein’s sudden inclination to toe the American line' It is impossible to fathom what Iraq might do, and the perfunctory destruction of a few missiles proves nothing. Hussein may well be taking Iraq’s enemies for a ride. Even if the US is led into believing that Iraq is complying, it will surely voice newer grievances against Hussein because all the world knows Bush’s cussedness about Iraq. Having set his eyes on Iraq’s oil reserves, it is unlikely that anything can stop him from getting what he wants.
D. Pramanik, Ranchi
Sir — Rameez Raja of Pakistan has rightly recommended that India needs another specialist bowler, not a seventh batsman in the shape of Dinesh Mongia (“Indians have it in them”, March 2). In the match against England, Mongia all but spoilt the momentum built by Sachin Tendulkar and added to the pressure on the batsmen who came in later by lowering the run-rate. Yet he was retained for the match with Pakistan. The selectors should remember that even if one person under-performs, it can cost us the match.
The drastic improvement in the Indian team’s performance is simply the result of their pulling up their socks after the extreme reaction of the fans back home at the loss against Australia. The Indian fan seems to have done the team a good turn, after all.
Mahesh K. Rathi, Calcutta
Sir — Indian cricket fans have been unfair to the national team. Their tempestuous reaction after the Indian team’s dismal performance against Australia was not justified. After all, cricketers are also human beings and losing is part of the game. Fans even went to the extent of threatening to boycott products endorsed by the cricketers, garlanded their pictures with shoes and painted a team-member’s house black. But when the team won its very next match against, Zimbabwe they were happy again, and ready to make idols of the cricketers.
If the Indian cricket team represents Indian honour in the international arena, then what about Shah Rukh Khan, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and the unit of Devdas' Why the Indians did not react as violently when the latter failed to bring home the Oscars'
Payal Bhattacharya, Calcutta
Sir — Chasing 273 runs against Pakistan was never going to be easy. But it took a genious named Sachin Tendulkar, who scored 98 runs in 75 balls, — blasting away at Shoaib Akhtar, the so-called Rawalpindi Express, for 18 runs in the very first over — to take the game away from Pakistan. This arguably is one of the best one-day innings ever played. Those who doubted whether Tendulkar could deliver under pressure must be eating their words. This, of course, is not to belittle the contributions of the ever-reliable Rahul Dravid and young Mohammed Kaif and Yuvraj Singh. Pakistan, an ageing team, must realize that the one day version of the game is for the young.
Tapan Das Gupta, Calcutta
Sir — Bangladesh, which has been conferred test status by the International Cricket Council, was defeated comfortably by both Kenya and Canada, which have been denied similar status by the world body. The former was granted test status by a single, rather controversial, win against Pakistan in the World cup 1999. It is time the ICC reconsidered that decision.
Biswaroop G. Baruah, Silchar
Sir — Other than in the match against Namibia, Sourav Ganguly still hasn’t found his footwork. He hasn’t got a respectable score in any of the five other matches in this World Cup. Just setting a good field, and rotating the bowlers correctly were his contributions to the game against Pakistan. And were those his decisions, or the instructions of the team’s coach, John Wright' Ganguly did, of course, play the spectator’s role very well. He clapped when Tendulkar went past fifty. His place in the batting order is being constantly shifted from opener to one down. It’s time we gave credit to John Wright, the team manager, Nathu Ram Choudhary and the physiotherapist, Andrew Leipus. Ganguly alone must not get credit for the wins. It’s “team India” alright, but with a non-performing captain.
Rahul Dutt, Calcutta
Sir — India’s victory over England in the nail-biting preliminary on March 26, proves two things. One, youngsters should be given the chance to prove their prowess and two, a captain must have faith in his players and give them time to show that they deserve to be in the squad. Ganguly’s confidence in youngsters like Ashis Nehra and Harbhajan Singh, something the latter have often acknowledged gratitude for in public, shows that investing in talent can pay rich dividends. This would also keep the old warhorses in the squad on their toes.
Syeda Kulsum Khan, Chennai
Sir — After her party won the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, a jubilant Sonia Gandhi is reported to have asked what was the Hindutva wave the Bharatiya Janata Party claimed was sweeping the country (“What wave, asks triumphant Sonia”, March 2). But one swallow does not make a summer. Just as the Bharatiya Janata Party won in Gujarat but had to bite the dust in Himachal Pradesh, there is no reason for the Congress president to believe that just because she did well in the Himalayan state, she would win in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan too. If Himachal Pradesh is a bitter pill for the BJP to swallow, the Congress too cannot be very sure that it was “soft Hindutva” that did the trick for it. The Himachal Pradesh election results show that the electorate can no longer be taken for granted.
Kangayam R. Rangaswamy, Madison, USA
Sir — The Congress deserves all credit for winning handsomely in Himachal Pradesh. Especially, since it did miserably in the Gujarat assembly elections a few months ago. Sonia Gandhi made a definite breach in several BJP strongholds in Himachal this time. If her run of luck continues, she may well come to power in the next general elections.
T.R. Anand, Calcutta