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Sting lays bare faction feud in Team India

New Delhi, May 8: India’s World Cup wound has been cut open again to reveal an unseemly sight.

A sting operation has caught a national selector purportedly saying that Team India was a divided house in the Caribbean and senior players did not support captain Rahul Dravid.

A television channel, Headlines Today, showed current selector Bhupinder Singh Senior claiming that Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar did not back the skipper.

The channels — which titled the sting Operation Clean Bowled — beamed footage in which sound bites attributed to Singh suggest that Sourav was eyeing the captaincy, which led to tensions with Dravid. “Some boys are with Sachin and some others (are) with Dada,” Singh said.

Laying the blame for the divisions at the doorstep of former coach Greg Chappell, the selector said the Australian had fanned the factionalism in the team.

The sting also showed Venkatapathi Raju, another selector, saying that “the problem was with the coach”.

BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah is quoted as saying that Chappell was “a big player. That is why our seniors couldn’t take him.”

Asked if reports of factions in the team were correct, Singh is heard replying: “Not a hundred per cent, but by and large correct. And Greg Chappell is to blame for it.”

“Chappell would say… Dravid is required… Sachin is not required… Sourav is not required. This was his policy,” according to the conversation in the footage beamed tonight.

Chappell, Singh claimed, was “not on talking terms with Sachin, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh”. Sehwag and Harbhajan had spoken out in support of Sourav when he was dropped, before the Board of Control for Cricket in India forbade them from speaking to the media.

He also said ego clashes were rife in the team during the World Cup. “There were four to five egos in the star-studded team. Then there was Chappell’s ego.”

The fresh round of muckraking coincides with the team’s tour of Bangladesh, the country which crus- hed India’s World Cup hopes.

The news broke late and no player or official was available for comment. Most players in Dhaka were unaware of the development at least till midnight.

The sting operation comes two days after stand-in manager Ravi Shastri dismissed talk of factionalism in the team.

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