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India googly against board

New Delhi/Mumbai, Aug. 24: The Indian Cricket League took its battle against the BCCI to court today, turning the board’s own words against it to challenge its status as the country’s “official” cricket body.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India has no right to retain the word “India” in its name, nor to use the national flag during its tournaments, the Zee-promoted league told Delhi High Court.

The ICL borrowed its argument from the board itself which — during a telecast rights tussle with Zee Telefilms three years ago — had told the Supreme Court it was not a government body and hence not a “state”.

A “private, autonomous” body like it, the board had argued, could not be accused of violating Zee’s fundamental rights by terminating its contract and re-opening the tender process.

The apex court had accepted the argument after board counsel K.K. Venugopal clarified that “if India plays England, it is a match played by the official team of BCCI and not the official team of India”.

Today, ICL counsel Maninder Singh told the high court the board could not have sole right to represent the country. He sought an order to restrain the board from interfering in the parallel league’s affairs.

The ICL also requested the court to stop the BCCI from “threatening” or “intimidating” its current and prospective recruits. The petition, expected to be heard on Monday, argued that the board could not stop anyone’s pension.

The board reacted cautiously. Its vice-president Shashank Manohar was quoted as saying: “If we are sent a notice, we will attend court and say what we want to.”

As the standoff hardened, Zee boss Subhash Chandra issued a statement declaring there was no “ego clash” between him and board president Sharad Pawar. “I have known Pawar for over 20 years on a personal basis and we have been and continue to be warm friends,” Chandra said.

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