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Shah Rukh Khan lashes back at Gavaskar

Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Lalit Modi after an emergency IPL meeting Associated Press

Shah Rukh Khan, owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders, has hit back at Sunil Gavaskar over his comments about franchise coach John Buchanan, and asked Gavaskar to stay away from issues concerning his IPL team.

In his column for the Hindustan Times, Gavaskar termed Buchanan a "failed former cricketer making a living telling international players to do what he couldn't do". It has not gone down well with the IPL franchise, which last week tried to put a lid on the controversy generated by Buchanan's theory of multiple captains by releasing a statement that during a game the team would resort to a group of "strategists" who would report to one on-field captain while making decisions.

Khan has come to Buchanan's defence, saying there was a marked difference in the time Gavaskar played and now. "I respect Mr Gavaskar - his knowledge about cricket is a billion times better than me," Khan told reporters in Mumbai. "But this is an era where Mr Gavaskar has not indulged in; nevertheless his knowledge about the game does allow him to make comments.

"This is a new format that's being tried out. Please give it some breathing space. I am the owner of the team, I bought it. If he wants to implement something, let him buy a team."

Gavaskar was scathing of Buchanan in his column, saying the former Australian coach had a way with words in India, a country Gavaskar said had few people capable of defusing opinion makers. "To comment on his multiple skipper theory is to give it the importance it doesn't deserve but what does require comment is how he has got his Queensland pals lucrative jobs with KKR," wrote Gavaskar. "They have a very big support staff which includes his son and most of them are from Queensland. The owners - poor souls - have little idea that they are being milked."

Gavaskar also said the Indian media granted unwarranted importance to Buchanan. "In India, where the media lives by the sound bite, Buchanan is a regular," he wrote. "If the Indian media had not made him out to be a 'super coach', he would have been just another failed former cricketer making a living telling international players to do what he couldn't at the first-class level."

Buchanan's radical theory had stirred a controversy on the eve of the team's departure to South Africa, forcing a nearly four-hour long meeting between Buchanan, Sourav Ganguly, Khan and Jai Mehta, who owns a stake in the team, in Mumbai. A subsequent statement released by Kolkata stressed that there would be only one captain, who would be fed with suggestions from this core group of strategists.