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March 24, 2003 15:41 IST
Former Cricket Board president A C Muthiah lauded the efforts of the young Indian cricket team for reaching the World Cup final, but said it "lacked strategy" in the title clash against Australia.
"We batted and bowled well in this World Cup. We have demonstrated brilliantly in our chase in the final too, through Sehwag and Dravid, but we buckled under pressure. The team lacked strategy, the vital factor in such situations, which the Australians showed," Muthiah said.
He said that on all counts, coming to the title clash, with more youngsters than experienced ones, was a tremendous achievement under present competitive conditions.
"Now the team has proved that they have the required strength and a slight improvement in scheming our strategies will result in India coming on top as the world beaters," the former BCCI chief said.
As for final, Muthiah said luck was with us but the few players like Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra seemed to be nervous while bowling.
"I would attribute the great amount of hype given to the Indian team had made our boys emotional and nervous. The present members of the squad have clicked like a well-oiled machine and they should be encouraged to keep up the tempo for better laurels," he said.
Security was beefed up in and around Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly's residence as his team went down to Australia in the World Cup final at Johannesburg on Sunday.
The lane leading to the palatial building was closed to commoners, as 50 armed pollicemen stood guard around the residence.
Though scribes were allowed near the residence, Ganguly's family members preferred to remain indoors, as a sombre mood prevailed in the locality.
Additional Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar Singh told newspersons that the police did not want to take chances in view of the attacks on cricketers' residences in different parts of the country in the league stage of the Cup following their poor performance.
Police sources said other than the 50 policemen outside, commandos continued to be deployed inside the house since the reported threat by a Kashmiri militant group to kidnap Ganguly involves high emotions.
"So even in the event of a win a large number of fans could have gathered here. Now that India has lost disappointed supporters may come here. We won't allow any breach of security and peace of the family members," Singh said.
He said the heightened security would remain till Ganguly returns from South Africa.
Zimbabwe paceman Henry Olonga, currently in hiding in South Africa, has said his Zimbabwe career may not yet be over.
"If there is a change of regime that makes my return without fear of prosecution feasible, I will come out of retirement tomorrow to play again for the Zimbabwe I love," Olonga told The Mail on Sunday.
Meanwhile, moves are being set in motion to press for Olonga to be granted sanctuary in Britain along with a work permit and the protection of asylum, the report said.
Maidstone MP and former Conservative Cabinet Minister Ann Widdecombe has agreed to process a visa application for Olonga, it said.
According to the report, businessman and cricketing entrepreneur David Folb has offered him a contract to play for his Kent-based side, Lashings, and has been in touch with Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson and Widdecombe to cement a deal that guarantees Olonga a future.
"I have to consider the worst-case scenario. I cannot take chances with my security. That is why I am in hiding, keeping a low profile, which means locking the door and staying off the streets," Olonga said.
In a tragic incident, a diehard fan of the Indian cricket team lost his life after being hit by his father for refusing to part with hard-earned cash that he planned to save to celebrate in the event of India winning the World Cup.
Susanta Hazra (14), who worked as an apprentice at a local furniture factory, died last night at his residence in north Kolkata after his father Prasanta hit him on the head with a bat, which the teenager used to score centuries in 'para' matches.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Soumen Mitra said the father hit his son as he refused to hand over the entire wages to him.
"Susanta had planned to spend part of the amount earned as his weekly wages today, hoping India would win the final. He was an ardent cricket fan and had made a replica of the Cup a week ago. He wanted to give it a better finish," Mitra said.
The father, who was allegedly in an inebriated condition last night, fled after the incident, he added.
India's youngest wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel will be able to appear for his Class XII Board examination if he makes it back from South Africa by March 26, a day after the exams are scheduled to begin.
Gujarat School Education Board chairman P V Trivedi said, "If Parthiv can reach by March 26 and is prepared to appear for the other exams, he would be given a one day grace and allowed to appear for the missed subject in July. If he can't make it, he will have to appear for all the subjects next year."
Trivedi said while there are no provisions in Board laws to conduct special exams for just one student, the Board was "sympathetic" to Parthiv because he had missed the Class XII exams last year too because of his cricket schedule.
"Parthiv had to take a drop from his Board exam last year also due to his cricket schedule. We feel very sympathetic for him and are proud of him for making it to the Indian team but sadly there is no provision to conduct exams in special cases as yet," Trivedi said.
Hundreds of campaigners staged demonstrations outside The Wanderers stadium, venue of the World Cup final between India and Australia, to protest the US-led war on Iraq.
The resentment of the protestors, who were carrying placards which read "war is not the answer" and "down with US greed", was directed at Australia which is supporting US in the war.
"We hope Australia loses the World Cup because (Australian Prime Minister) John Howard supports the war in Iraq," Anti-War Coalition spokesman Trevor Ngwane said.
Ngwane said around 800-1000 people had participated in the demonstrations.
"We have many policemen deployed to monitor the situation and everything is proceeding peacefully," Senior police Superintendent Chris Wilken said.