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'Bring back Sourav'

By Harish Kotian in Nagpur
March 03, 2006 17:22 IST
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Cricket enthusiasts gathered outside the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium in Nagpur on Friday to protest the exclusion of deposed India captain Sourav Ganguly from the team.

"We want Sourav, bring back Sourav," they shouted, demanding the left-hander's immediate reinstatement to the Indian team.

India's disastrous batting performance on the third day, which saw the team collapse to a paltry 194 for 7 in reply to England's first innings of 393, only incensed them further.

"Sourav would have fared much better than some of the batsmen here. He did well in the third Test against Pakistan on a pitch where others failed, but still he was dropped for unfair reasons," said a fan.

They also mouthed expletives against coach Greg Chappell for his comments about Ganguly in an interview to a British newspaper.


Panesar takes the honours

At lunch break on day three, it was not Matthew Hoggard, who claimed three wickets in the morning session, who led the England team off the field.

Instead, it was debutant left-arm spinner Monty Panesar -- the man who scalped the all-important wicket of Sachin Tendulkar, his first victim in international cricket.

The wicket will certainly be a huge boost for England's first Sikh player as he starts his journey in international cricket.

On Thursday, at the end of the second day's play, his bowling drew applause from none other than V V S Laxman. 

"He is a good spinner. With a bit of experience he will be a handy spinner for England," Laxman had said.

His gutsy batting in a crucial 68-run last-wicket partnership with centurion Paul Collingwood also drew applause from his teammates.

Only his first innings in Test cricket, but Panesar has already done enough to take note of.


Irfan vs Sania?

As Irfan Pathan warmed up before the start of play on Friday morning, spectators in the stand behind where he was stretching started shouting, "Irfan, Sania!"

It left the left-armer a bit embarrassed, which was clearly evident when he began practicing his batting.

It was not long before he realized that the actual culprit who was encouraging the spectators was none other than the man behind him -- Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Yuvraj Singh, who missed this Test due to injury, too had his share of the accolades. As he warmed-up running around the ground, spectators shouted: "We want Yuvraj." There were a few who also shouted: "We want Yuvraj as captain."

Certainly, it appears the left-hander, who was man of the one-day series in Pakistan, will be back for the second Test at Mohali. He seems to have recovered from the hamstring injury that kept him out of the ongoing Test and is fit for battle.

However, the carnival atmosphere in the stands was doused within 30 minutes of the start of play as India lost three wickets for the addition of only nine runs to their overnight score of 136 for 1.


Selvey sore

Mike Selvey says his controversial Greg Chappell interview has made him a bigger hit than United States President George W Bush, who is currently in India. At least, it enabled him hog the headlines in India more than Bush.

Writing in The Guardian on Firday, Selvey says he was hounded by the Indian media the whole of yesterday for his comments on the interview, wherein Chappell made some remarks about Ganguly that the former India captain did not take kindly to.

Chappell had told Selvey, 'What I didn't realise at that stage was how utterly important to his [Ganguly's] life and finances being captain was.'

Selvey went on to add that some media persons went as far as to question his integrity, which "pissed" him off a bit.

Selvey sure knows how to steal the limelight!

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Harish Kotian in Nagpur

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