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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Hero to zero: Cricketers under threat

FAN FURY: Sachin's residence and family members are under security cover after India's Cup debacle.
New Delhi, March 24 Even as the nation was drowned in sorrow today, cricket-crazy fans gave vent to their ire against the national team over their disgraceful performance against Sri Lanka by burning the effigies of star cricketers whom they virtually worshipped all these years.

The humiliating defeat at the hands of the islanders, which has virtually ended India's disastrous campaign in the World Cup in the West Indies, shocked the cricket administrators as well with the BCCI promising to take drastic measures to overhaul the game.

Angry fans in several cities burnt effigies of cricket idols Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, skipper Rahul Dravid and other senior players and also Indian team coach Greg Chappell. At several places, 'funeral' processions of the team were taken out.

Security men were immediately rushed to the homes of Tendulkar, Dravid, Sehwag, wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, spinner Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh soon after India surrendered meekly to the Sri Lankans in the do-or-die tie at Trinidad.

India crashed to the second defeat in three games after minnows Bangladesh shocked them in their first league encounter of Group B last week.

In captain Dravid's hometown Bangalore, people thronged the busy thoroughfares shouting slogans and burning posters, besides demanding Dravid to step down from captaincy.

Kolkata wore a deserted look with torn posters of Indian stars in every nook and corner of the city, bearing witness to silent frustrations that brewed within the city.

Former national selector and Test cricketer Sambaran Banerjee told UNI, "It is a black day for Indian cricket. The fact that we did not qualify for the Super Eight is simply unexpectable."

Even the Railway Minister and Bihar Cricket Association (BCA) president, Mr Lalu Prasad joined in to lash out at all the members of the team, saying they should 'compulsorily retire' in favour of young talents.

"The defeat has underlined the fact that seniors in the team failed to deliver and that too in the most ignominious manner, and it is high time they were replaced by young talent," Mr Prasad told reporters on the sidelines of a railway function here.

Mr Prasad said India could learn a lesson or two from Bangladesh which had blooded young talent in the team and the results were there for everyone to see.

"Instead of concentrating on their game, Indian players are more concerned about making money through advertisements," he said, adding that it was adversely impacting their performance.

In New Delhi, the BJP today offered a bit of advice to India's cricket team after their near-exit from the World Cup, saying they were required to be a bit more serious in their game.

Cricketer Zahir Khan's restaurant in Kondawa area, in Pune, was attacked by an angry mob this morning following the dismal performance of the Indian team against Sri Lanka in the World Cup match last night.

The cricketing buffs attacked "ZK" restaurant in the posh Kondawa area by throwing stones to express their anger and dismay against the Indian paceman for his unsatisfactory performance in the World Cup. However, the restaurant was not damaged much except for the breaking of some glass windows.

The police took immediate step to control the irate mob and saved the restaurant from further damage.

Agitated cricket fans today set ablaze the effigy of Indian wicket-keeper and batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni in Ranchi.

The people were especially enraged by Dhoni's poor performance and burnt his effigies at the different locations in Ranchi including Albert Ekka Chowk and Rajendra Chowk.

Dhoni was not able to make a single run against Sri Lanka yesterday.

In Ahmedabad, cricket fans in the city today burnt effigies and conducted mock-funeral of the Indian players.

A group of cricket enthusiasts protested at the Lotus School in Isanpur locality, at the way the Indian cricketers put up a spineless batting display against the Sri Lankans yesterday.

They carried posters which criticised the cricketers for not concentrating on the game and minting money through advertisements.

They raised slogans against the BCCI president,

Mr Sharad Pawar and coach Greg Chappell. Members of the group slapped the posters of cricketing icons with slippers and burnt them.

Meanwhile, another group of youths in the city conducted a mock-funeral of the cricket team.

The youths who had gathered at Gujarat college took out a mock funeral procession and thereafter burnt the effigy of the team.


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