The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mahanama’s ‘brotherly’ advice
- While being agitated over the late-arrival episode in Mumbai, BCCI must explain travel goof-up

Calcutta: Perhaps, it had something to do with Roshan Mahanama having played against Sourav Ganguly not many years ago, for the youngest Match Referee ' he’s 39 ' spoke to the Team India captain in a “brotherly tone” during their formal interaction in Bulawayo.

The customary pre-tournament/series briefing, on Thursday afternoon, provided the backdrop to their meeting.

Also present, among others, were coach Greg Chappell and manager Amitabh Choudhary.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, Mahanama (a former Sri Lankan captain himself) reminded Sourav about being obliged to maintain the over-rate and, then, said “I would hate to act, but I won’t have a choice if you’re behind on the overs'”

Sourav, who only recently finished serving out a four-ODI ban for his bowlers being short in the April 12 ODI versus Pakistan, indicated the advice wouldn’t go unheeded.

The punishment, it may be recalled, cost him the captaincy in the season-launching tri-series in Sri Lanka.

In fact, last November, Sourav had escaped being banned for two Tests.

He got away because the International Cricket Council-appointed Appeals Commissioner, Tim Castle, overturned Match Referee Clive Lloyd’s punishment after the Platinum Jubilee ODI against Pakistan.

Incidentally, Friday’s tri-series face-off versus New Zealand will herald Sourav’s comeback as captain.

Meanwhile, for all the noise being made by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) over the late reporting by some players on the departure-day (Monday), in Mumbai, it slipped up in a big way on the travel arrangements.

Sourav and Co. took a flight to Johannesburg late that night and, after a transit halt, boarded one for Harare ' despite Team India’s first match being in Bulawayo.

Apparently, there was a Johannesburg-Bulawayo flight on Tuesday evening itself, but the BCCI must have been oblivious.

“We could have taken another flight (from Harare to Bulawayo), possibly that very evening, but everyone felt it would be better to put an end to the travelling and make the most of one-and-half days in Harare' We’ve made the best of a real bad bargain,” a well-placed source explained.

And, so, Team India reached Bulawayo on Thursday morning. The somewhat delayed departure, from Harare, meant just around 22 hours to acclimatise before engagement No.1.

No wonder Stephen Fleming, already on a high after a massive victory over the hosts in the tournament-opener, has been breaking into a chuckle.

The BCCI claims to be incensed by the late-arrival episode ' it probably has reason to be. Yet, has anybody bothered to gauge the players’ feelings about the poorly planned travel arrangements'

Nobody had, not till late on Thursday.

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