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   I was talking to the cricket manager... (October 21, 1991)

I was talking to the cricket manager of the Shiv Sena team on his team's preparations for the match against Pakistan at the Wankhede Stadium next Monday.

"If we can do half as well as the Indian team has done so far in Sharjah, I will be happy," he said.

"You are being modest," I said. "We all know how prepared the Shiv Sena team is to meet any contingency in the match against Pakistan."

"Oh, prepared we are, we have to be," the manager said. "We have got several plans, demonstraction, Mumbai bandh, burning the stadium. But in cricket, as you know, you never can tell. That is the beauty of cricket."

"That's true," I sauid. "Have you worked out any definite cricket strategy to beat Pakistan?"

"Whatever strategy is worked out, it will be worked out by our pramukh. Our duty, as disciplined manager and players, is to follow it and not ask questions. That is how cricket is played and matches are won. Look at Bobby Simpson, whatever he tells the Australian cricket team to do, it does, without questions. That is why it has risen so fast again."

"Can you tell me how you are preparing for the match?" I asked.

"Certainly," the manager said. "We have gathered a nucleus and sent it to a training camp, from this nucleus the final team will be selected. It will be a blend of youth and experience, young men who can run around the stadium, and experienced veterans who can set the stadium on fire with their performances. I tell you, it will be a match worth going a long way to see, though, unfortunately, nobody will be allowed to go and see it."

"Yes," I said. "Is there any other plan?"

"Well, the first plan is to scare away Pakistan, so that it does not come to Bombay. It has happened before, you know, our own players have been so scared of the opposition's pace attack that they have dropped out of tours."

"Do you expect support from the Maharashtra government in your efforts to defeat Pakistan?" I asked.

"But, of course, which government would not like its own team to win!" the manager said.

"And the Board of Control for Cricket in India? Do you expect support from it?" I asked.

"I don't know, and the way Madhavrao Scindia is talking, I don't except much," the manager said. "There is too much politics and not enough cricket in our board. I don't like it: cricket and politics should never be mixed."

 
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