The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Appeal against unrest

Calcutta, Dec. 17: Despite the pressure, Sourav Ganguly has conducted himself admirably, post-Zimbabwe.

The former Team India captain didn’t say anything much even after being dropped earlier this week, but with his exclusion reverberating in Parliament and a bandh called in the state, he chose to issue an appeal this evening.

“The third and final Test (against Sri Lanka) begins tomorrow and I wouldn’t like anything untoward to happen because of me. That’s why the appeal,” Sourav told The Telegraph.

“My concern isn’t only about fans here, but somebody may choose to do something in Ahmedabad or (neighbouring) Motera'. Moreover, at this point, the team needs to be supported ' not an individual,” he added.

Asked whether the emotional outpouring of support took him by surprise, Sourav replied grinning: “Frankly, today, nothing surprises me.”

His appeal included: “Whatever has happened, I respect the selectors’ decision. I’m sure, with my performances, I’ll again get the opportunity to play'

“Any bandh is going to jeopardise public life, which is not right.”

Besides the concern, Sourav must have realised that if protests continued and Tuesday’s bandh (called by a hitherto little-known organisation) received sentiment-driven support, the Establishment wouldn’t take to it too kindly.

In any case, Board of Control for Cricket in India president Sharad Pawar has been critical of the Sourav issue reaching Parliament.

Meanwhile, according to an agency report from Mumbai, Pawar has communicated to Jagmohan Dalmiya that it wouldn’t be proper for him (Pawar) to interfere in the selection process.

Pawar claims to have responded to Dalmiya’s call for Sourav’s reinstatement for the final Test (not that it was anything more than a pressure tactic ahead of the Pakistan selection), but Dalmiya insisted he hadn’t received anything.

“It’s 11.30 pm now, but I haven’t got a reply' If I have to react, it will be after I’ve heard from Pawar,” he maintained.

Going by the report, Pawar has taken a swipe at Dalmiya (whose casting vote defeated him in the 2004 elections) by saying predecessor Ranbir Singh Mahendra hadn’t intervened when Sourav was overlooked earlier in the season.

Mahendra, as is known, was propped up by Dalmiya.

Footnote: The Orissa Cricket Association has flayed Sourav’s omission from the team. Ironically, association president Ranjib Biswal is East’s man on the selection committee!

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