The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cricket cradle rues row, Pawar spares Dungarpur

Mumbai, Jan. 8: Mumbai’s cricket circles today rued the “unnecessary” controversy stirred by Raj Singh Dungarpur’s recent comments on Sourav Ganguly, but avoided saying anything that could annoy the Team India manager or cricket board chief Sharad Pawar.

Dungarpur was shown by a TV channel trashing Sourav as a poor captain and the “laziest” fielder in the side, apparently after the team’s arrival in Pakistan.

Cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle felt controversies relating to Sourav had crossed the limits of a rational debate, with both camps spouting conspiracy theories.

“Everything is seen as a conspiracy. I hope no mass movements start again on this issue'. Once you have picked someone for India, you have to cheer for him and wish that he scores runs and takes wickets,” he said.

A Mumbai-based former India player and now Ranji coach, who didn’t wish to be named, said: “Rajbhai’s age is not a factor. He is a great manager and the right man for the job'. But I was surprised that such an unnecessary controversy has arisen at such a crucial moment. Players are likely to get disturbed.”

Karsan Ghavri, a former Test cricketer and now a coach, said: “Such comments should not be made at this juncture. They are bound to affect Ganguly as a player and the Indian team.”

He added: “There is no doubt about Dungarpur’s love and knowledge of cricket. He is the perfect man for the job.”

Earlier in the day, Pawar gave a clean chit to Dungarpur, one of his key campaigners in the board elections.

“I spoke to Dungarpur at 1 am. He told me the TV channels were using clips which were three-four months old. He said he had not made any adverse comments about Ganguly during the current tour. I believe Dungarpur,” Pawar said at the Nationalist Congress Party convention in Nashik.

He added: “Sourav is an asset for the team.”

The TV channel insisted that the interview took place after the Indian team reached Pakistan.

Pawar’s rally left a golf club’s ground, venue for a recent Ranji match, and its lawns in tatters. The organisers had put up poles and barricades for the meeting that drew about 1 lakh activists.

It was Pawar who, as cricket board chief, had inaugurated the renovated ground last month.

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