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Atal gives special message to Sourav, wishes Indian victory

Union Sports Minister Vikram Verma handed over the message, written on a cricket bat, to Ganguly and Dravid in Johannesburg.

india Updated: Mar 23, 2003 12:06 IST

The hopes of the Indian cricket team to take back the World Cup after a 20-year gap have been bolstered by a special message from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Indian Sports Minister Vikram Verma handed over the message, written on a cricket bat, to captain Sourav Ganguly and Vice-Captain Rahul Dravid at a short function here on Saturday afternoon at the team's hotel.

"I wish and pray to God that the Indian team will not only be victorious in the World Cup, but will also be glorious in this victory," said the message.

Vajpayee also sent a special message to Ganguly in a letter handed over to him by Verma.

The letter conveyed Vajpayee's personal congratulations on a truly outstanding performance in the World Cup till now, as well as the wishes of the entire nation for victory in the finals.

India meet Australia at the Wanderers stadium here Sunday.

Ganguly then distributed sweetmeats brought especially by the ministerial delegation to all present.

"The entire country is awaiting the arrival of the Indian team back home for a grand celebration by the government and the citizens of our nation," Verma told IANS afterwards.

"There will be a public function attended by the prime minister."

Verma said Vajpayee would have liked to attend the finals himself but was unable to do so because of the war on Iraq.

"I don't want to give the answer to this question," Verma said, when asked if there were any plans in place if India lost the final. "Definitely we are very hopeful that we will win tomorrow."

Verma as well as Law and Justice Minister Arun Jaitley and Labour Minister Sahibsingh Verma are among at least 15 Indian politicians who will attend the finals Sunday.

First Published: Mar 23, 2003 12:06 IST