The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Chat lively, play limp

Lahore, Jan. 13: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president, Sharad Pawar, saw it in Islamabad; secretary Niranjan Shah and Team India manager Raj Singh Dungarpur at the Gaddafi.

One is talking of the footage showing former captain Sourav Ganguly speaking animatedly (perhaps, even a shade agitatedly) to successor Rahul Dravid before the start of the Test series this morning. Coach Greg Chappell was a spectator.

As the footage could be interpreted in many ways, particularly because of the far from warm relationship between Sourav and the other two, the BCCI acted on two fronts before Pawar’s arrival (in the afternoon) after a meeting with President Pervez Musharraf.

Apparently, Pawar called Shah and Raj Singh, seeking “details” of what happened. Both then spoke to the dramatis personae and were informed there was “no disagreement”. So, seeking an explanation of sorts was step No. 1.

Simultaneously, the BCCI (through the Pakistan Cricket Board) requested TEN Sports to stop telecasting the footage.

“There was no point in showing it repeatedly, which is why we made a request through the hosts,” Shah told The Telegraph.

He added: “Can’t the captain, coach and a senior player exchange views publicly' Creating a controversy will be most unfair to everybody....”

Talking exclusively at the Pearl Continental, minutes after the team returned at the end of a poor first day (with Pakistan on a muscular 326 for two), Sourav simply maintained: “I wasn’t agitated.... No way.”

Earlier, at a news conference, Chappell insisted there was “nothing to it”. Pressed, he said: “We spoke about cricket.... It was a normal discussion.” The coach seemed a bit irritated that an issue was being made.

In fact, the question lobbed at Chappell was whether what had been caught by the TV camera had something to do with Sourav refusing to open. Quite absurd, really, as he’d agreed yesterday itself ' as soon as Dravid made that proposal.

Incidentally, in a change, Dravid is himself going to open with Virender Sehwag and Sourav will bat at No. 5. This reached many ears after Chappell struck Sourav’s name off the top when the TEN Sports scorer wanted to confirm the batting order.

Given that he was intent on proving a point, Sourav may actually have been arguing he be allowed to open. With the constant flip-flop, it won’t surprise if he still does.

Assuming that Dravid goes ahead, making a distinct statement, then he’s going to be doing the job for the second time in a month. The last occasion, of course, was when Sehwag was indisposed and he partnered Gautam Gambhir at the Kotla.

The axe has fallen on Gambhir, who was awful in the last series, with Chappell pointing out that the “best batting combination” had been fielded.

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