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Black Cats secure Bengal Tiger

Duleep Trophy match could start only when East Zone's demand of Z-level security for Ganguly was met, reports Varun Gupta.

india Updated: Nov 08, 2006 13:06 IST
Varun Gupta
Varun Gupta

The Duleep Trophy match between North and East Zone, which was thrown into doubt following the two bomb blasts here on Sunday, did get underway on Monday, albeit 45 minutes late.

It took two letters from the Assam Cricket Association and the Guwahati Police - one stated that the ground had been secured "fastidiously" and the other gave players the assurance that there was no threat to their lives and no reason to panic - to make the reluctant players, particularly those from the East Zone, to take the field.

The drama started as early as 7:30 am on Monday when the ground was thoroughly scrutinised by the police, with the help of a dog squad, in the presence of the players and match officials.

By 8 am, the police had completed the inspection and proclaimed that it was safe for the play to resume play, which was conveyed to the two teams.

However, the East players and coach Paras Mhambrey were far from convinced and demanded better security, particularly for skipper Sourav Ganguly. They claimed that Ganguly was entitled to Z-level security and thus Black Cat commandos should be provided to guard him.

It was only when that demand was met that the match could start. However, the start of play was delayed by 45 minutes as it took some time for the commandoes to reach the ground, and also because the match referee, Rajesh Yadav, wanted to give some time to the players to limber up.

"We did whatever we could. We have deployed three platoons of CRPF and local police who would keep a vigilant eye on the proceedings. Black Cat commandoes too are here and we've sanitised the whole area. Even the spectators sitting in the stands are quite far away from the players. I wonder why the East players were making such a fuss," said a visibly perturbed Bikas Baruah, secretary, Assam Cricket Association.

The two national selectors present, Venkatpathy Raju and Ranjib Biswal, had an early start to their day, playing an active role in the frantic discussions between the ACA officials, police and the East Zone team management.

"We had no problem in playing. It was only the East players and management that seemed overly concerned and anxious," North Zone manager Ashok Vaswani told HT.

It was also learnt that three North players - Gagandeep Singh, VRV Singh and Ravneet Ricky - were close to the site of the blasts on Sunday evening, at a Gurdwara, but thankfully emerged unscathed.

First Published: Nov 06, 2006 21:05 IST