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Buchanan rubbishes rift reports

The Kolkata team coach says the reports about a rift between team owner Shah Rukh Khan and skipper Sourav Ganguly are inane and adds the row has brought the players closer.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, Kolkata
UPDATED ON MAY 24, 2008 11:28 PM IST

Describing as 'baseless' media reports about a rift between Kolkata team owner Shah Rukh Khan and skipper Sourav Ganguly, team coach John Buchanan on Saturday said the controversy has brought the players closer.

"These reports in the media are completely inane. These are completely meaningless and baseless. But such reports have not affected the morale of the players," Buchanan told newspersons in Kolkata.

"This controversy has brought the players close to one another," Buchanan said.

Shah Rukh also had earlier denied any rift involving him, Ganguly and Buchanan saying such speculations were normal when they were losing matches.

"Do ignore all this bit about Dada, me and John having isues. It's a normal thing in the world. People like to hit you when you are down," Shah Rukh said in an SMS to all his team members.

Buchanan appealed to all cricket boards in the world to support the IPL. "This will open a window of opportunity for players to take part in the tournament."

The former Australian national coach also hoped that from next season the IPL franchises would get players who were avaiable right through the tourney.

Almost all the teams in the IPL had to do with truncated sides for most part of the tournament as several foreign recruits returned home for serving their national sides.

Kolkata, who have failed to make it to the semi finals, lost dashing wicketkeeper batsman Brendon McCullum and Australian captain Ricky Ponting after their first four matches.

Buchanan said his charges would strive to beat the formidable Mohali at Eden Gardens on Sunday to salvage pride.

"We will be playing with a fair bit of freedom. We have nothing to lose. We are playing for pride at the moment. We need to do things well tomorrow. A win against the second placed team will be a great finish," he said.

Asked to spell out the reasons for the side's failure, the coach said, "Lot of things did not go well for us this season, ranging from player issues, travel and training. We lacked ability at the top (batting order)."

Buchanan said the side was introspecting on the causes of the debacle. "It has forced us to look at what we are at the moment and what we have done so far".

Buchanan said a new opening combination would kickstart the Kolkata's innings tomorrow.

The opening slot has been a constant source of concern for the Kolkata, who have tried out seven different combinations in the tournament.

It seems likely that Pakistani Salman Butt would open against the Mohali alongside either Debabrata Das or Laxmi Ratan Shukla, both Bengal's homespun players.

Buchanan praised Das, Shukla and wicket keeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha, and said the trio would form the nucleus of the side from the next year onwards.

The coach said Rawalpindi Express Shoaib Akhtar's condition was being monitored, and a final decision on playing him would be taken on the morrow.

Down with a knee injury, Akhtar did not play the Kolkata' game against Jaipur.

Asked to comment on Shane Warne's captaincy of the Jaipur team, Buchanan said, "It's true that he had had a very good season. But his real assessment as captain of the Jaipur team can be done after a couple of years."

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