The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Oops! Raj Singh is wary, but not sorry

Lahore, Jan. 7: Not too long ago, somebody in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) uncharitably referred to Raj Singh Dungarpur as a “loose cannon”. He has actually blasted himself and embarrassed those (read Sharad Pawar’s group) who appointed him manager to Pakistan.

Dungarpur’s views on Sourav Ganguly have never been camouflaged. But it’s one thing to tear into India’s most successful Test captain as a former BCCI president and chief selector, quite another to do so ' in an interview to a TV channel ' as manager of a team which includes him!

After denying having given the vitriolic interview (yesterday), Dungarpur told The Telegraph he may have spoken “casually” without realising “every word” was being recorded. Very confused, he added: “Frankly, I can’t even place the reporter.”

Even if somebody spoke to him out of the blue, as manager on a sensitive tour, Dungarpur should have been circumspect. “I will be, now,” he remarked, but without being remorseful.

The last time Dungarpur wore the manager’s blazer was as far back as the summer of 1986 in England.

Asked whether he would clear the air via a one-on-one with Sourav, Dungarpur shot back: “Why must I do so' I’ve already said I didn’t give any interview and that channel has indulged in something unethical.... However, if Sourav speaks to me about it, I’m going to repeat the denial....”

The BCCI has provisions to discipline players; now there’s a case for something in black and white to book managers. Dungarpur, in any case, has given Inzamam-ul Haq and Bob Woolmer much to chuckle about.

Sourav, who arrived here (with three others) late this evening, didn’t wish to be drawn into yet another controversy starring him. “I have nothing to say.... Of course, I’m happy to be in Pakistan.... Nice memories (of the last tour) have come back and I intend making the most of every opportunity.”

With both specialist openers Gautam Gambhir and comeback man Wasim Jaffer getting fifties in the tour opener today, it has got tougher for Sourav to make the XI for the first Test.

Indeed, it’s not insignificant that coach Greg Chappell (in particular) favours a specialist to partner vice-captain Virender Sehwag.

If there’s no makeshift arrangement at the very top, there’s no place in the middle-order.

To return to Dungarpur, it seems he wanted the Team India communications director, G.S.Walia, to issue a denial on his behalf. The latter, though, explained that such an exercise would lack credibility and it should be done by the manager himself.

Apparently, Walia wasn’t just asked by the BCCI to “ascertain the facts”, but it was left to him to “manage” something that had gone out of hand.

Dungarpur’s denial, issued at the Bagh-e-Jinnah, included the bit about “never compromising on my integrity” and that Sourav is “as welcome as a Sachin Tendulkar”.

Not too convincing that, Rajbhai.

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