The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dravid has no doubt on mates, Dilip is stung

Dhaka, May 9: A sting operation on match-fixing coincided with the Indian cricketers’ arrival here for the 2000 Asia Cup. Seven years on, another undercover exercise got aired a day after the Rahul Dravids landed for what has become a big tour.

Given the disparity in rankings, the Indians have everything to lose and little to gain. Dravid and Co. don’t start as underdogs, thankfully, but their task is truly cut out for the three-match ODI series beginning tomorrow. The two Tests start rolling on May 18.

Now, to the lead-up.

All, obviously, wasn’t well in the dressing room India’s disastrous World Cup campaign and the latest sting operation (by a television channel) seems to confirm that.

However, one of the central figures caught by the hidden camera, North Zone’s representative on the five-man selection committee Bhupinder Singh (Sr), insisted that the channel has attributed quotes to him in “different voices”.

“I’ve asked the board for permission to initiate action.... I’ve recognised my voice in some parts, but don’t know who has talked in other segments.... Certainly not me,” Singh told The Telegraph.

It’s no secret that both Sachin Tendulk ar and Sourav Ganguly wouldn’t mind getting back the captaincy — Sachin stepped down in March 2000, while successor Sourav had a good run till he was removed in October 2005.

It’s also no state secret that former coach Greg Chappell adopted a divide-and-rule policy. He’d specifically target players close to Sourav, with whom there was no love lost.

What’s damning is that Sachin and Sourav stand accused (by Singh) of not their captain.

Dravid, though, rubbished that charge on the morning after the telecast. “I’m not going to react to sting operations.... I got as much support as I could (from teammates) during the World Cup.... I was happy with the team I had.”

Chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar took on the media. “It’s a shame that some are stooping to such levels. I wish the government bans such unethical acts.... How can you betray in this manner' It’s beyond me.”

He added: “I have faith in my colleagues and in their integrity....” East’s Ranjib Biswal is the other selector “caught” by the hidden camera.

But, surely, after what Singh has been quoted as saying, wouldn’t the whispers that Sachin and Sourav have actually been dropped for the ODIs get louder'

Vengsarkar got a tad irritated. “Please don’t ask such questions. Haven’t we announced they’ve been rested' Also, haven’t they been picked for the Test series'”

Yes, but....

Board secretary Niranjan Shah, another victim of the undercover exercise, declined to comment. “Right now, there’s nothing to say.” Except, perhaps, prayers to end the bumbling.

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