October 17, 2000

Bengal players rise to Ganguly's defence

The loss to New Zealand in the final of the ICC Knockout Trophy in Nairobi has not really perturbed cricket lovers in Calcutta. Virtually the entire population of the city had stayed rooted in front of the television sets on Sunday as Sourav Ganguly's men took on the Kiwis. And in spite of the defeat, people are of the opinion that Indian cricket has turned the corner.

Former selector Sambaran Bannerjee stated on Monday, "No doubt, the loss hurts. But had anybody thought that India would reach the final? Defeating Australia and South Africa in itself has been an achievement. The entire nation should be thankful to Sourav Ganguly. He has brought Indian cricket out of its crisis. Today cricket has once more regained the prestige that it had lost during the last six months."

Bengal coach Palash Nandy said, "What has been astonishing has been the way Maharaj (Sourav Ganguly's nickname) handled the side. He has been a true leader.''

Asked to comment on Sourav Ganguly, Debu Mitra, the man who taught the elementary aspects of the game to the Indian captain, said, "I have really liked the way he has handled pressure. He is scoring hundreds which means that captaincy has not affected his batting. This is a good sign. When Sachin Tendulkar had been captain, his performance had deteriorated." He added, "A number of people are criticising Ganguly because India lost in the final. Well, did they ever expect India to reach the final in the first place? Taking such a team to the final is an achievement in itself."

In his column, former Test opener Arun Lal has written, "India lost because of three reasons. The first was the wrong selection of the team. Secondly, the run out of Sachin and thirdly because of Chris Cairns.'' Arun Lal has stated that the team management made a mistake by including Ajit Agarkar. ``On a pitch, which is becoming slower by the day, the right choice would have been Sunil Joshi. Instead, Agarkar, a person who has neither been batting nor bowling well was included."

These comments came on a day when police rounded up nine people in the city for being involved in betting. The chief of the detective department Narayan Ghosh stated, "We have recovered a large amount of cash, cell phones, television sets and CD roms. They were involved in taking bets over the phone. At the moment, we are also trying to find out the identity of the people who were in touch with these bookies.''