The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Big boys play at night for an hour
Sourav with Pawar in Delhi. Picture by Prem Singh

Calcutta, Dec. 20: Sharad Pawar didn’t have a one-on-one with Sourav Ganguly during his meeting with six senior pros ahead of the recent Kotla Test.

Much water, of course, has flown down the Yamuna since: Tonight, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president spent almost an hour with the former captain.

The first 45 minutes, over tea, were exclusively with Sourav. Later, MP Rajeev Shukla was invited to join.

That Pawar hosted Sourav for around an hour ' that, too, from 9.15 pm ' is significant.

The interaction at Pawar’s 6 Janpath residence, in New Delhi, came about after Sourav apparently called him this morning.

Yesterday, Pawar had gone on record saying he would give Sourav (who got dumped despite a reasonable performance at the Kotla) a patient hearing, but wouldn’t interfere in the selection process.

Neither Pawar nor Sourav offered a reaction, but Shukla’s comment to The Telegraph ' “their body language looked good' they seem to have hit it off” ' is revealing.

A former BCCI vice-president, Shukla currently chairs the media committee.

Apparently, his insistence that Greg Chappell and matters of selection didn’t figure in the discussions is correct.

Even if an indirect reference to the coach was made, Sourav may not have made an issue. Pawar, for his part, wouldn’t have given a commitment specific to his recall for Pakistan.

Pawar, though, is understood to have repeated that “injustice” wouldn’t be meted out. Read between the lines and there’s definitely a signal for chief selector Kiran More and his colleagues.

Given that Pawar isn’t averse to being acknowledged as a father figure, he could have offered advice of a personal kind as well.

As it turned out, Pawar met Sourav on a day the Indian top-order collapsed for the second time in not many hours, in the Motera Test.

Sourav, therefore, took to the meeting with an advantage of sorts.

According to Shukla, who was directed by Pawar to brief the media, Sourav’s views about improving cricket in India were sought in detail.

Also, whether anything needs to be done differently to achieve the same (if not a better) result as on Team India’s 2003-04 tour of Pakistan. Sourav was then the captain. In fact, he was at the helm till a shade over two months ago.

It’s not confirmed whether Pawar will also have a one-on-one with Chappell, before Saturday’s selection committee meeting, but that can’t be ruled out.

Pawar did speak to the coach on the first morning of the ongoing Test, but the interaction could only have had a general flavour.

Sourav, who took an evening flight to Delhi, is expected back tomorrow morning. Perhaps, he’s even going to smile after a week of despair.

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