~~We~~ll put behind contract row, focus on winning~~

Published: Friday, September 13, 2002, 22:41 [IST]
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Colombo: India skipper Saurav Ganguly said on Friday his team would put behind the recent sponsorship row and concentrate on winning the Champions Trophy One-day cricket tournament. "We're very happy to be in Sri Lanka," said Ganguly on the eve of his team's day- night match against Zimbabwe. The participation of the best Indian squad in the 12- nation tournament looked doubtful at one stage as leading players refused to sign a sponsorship agreement with the International Cricket Council (ICC). The contract crisis was resolved following a meeting between the top ICC officials and the Indian players in England last week. India named its best team barely three days before the start of the Champions Trophy. "The Indian Board has heard our voice," said Ganguly. "I don't think it's right to say the players have won and the Board has lost. The Board is our parent body. "We're happy at the way officials have responded and resolved the crisis. The ICC and Indian board have done a great job." Ganguly said his team would focus on winning the tournament, considered a dress rehearsal for next year's World Cup in South Africa. India has been grouped with England and Zimbabwe in the Champions Trophy, with only one team qualifying for the semi-finals. "We've been playing fantastic One-day cricket for the past one and a half years. We're a much improved side," said Ganguly. India won a One-day series in the West Indies in June and then beat England in a tall-scoring final of the NatWest Trophy at Lord's the following month. "We're looking forward to the World Cup. All One-day games in the run up to the World Cup will help us prepare for the big event." Ganguly said he did not believe the hectic international schedule would affect his team's performance. "This is what international cricket is all about and we've been playing international cricket for a long time. The family support is a great help," he said. The Indian skipper said his team could not afford to take Heath Streak's Zimbabweans lightly in its opening match, especially after the last One-day series between the two teams. India trailed 2-1 against Zimbabwe in a series of five One-day Internationals at home early this year, before winning the last two games to salvage its pride. "Zimbabwe is no pushover. It's really a good One-day side," said Ganguly. Other top Indian players also said they had not been thinking about the contract controversy, but looking forward to doing well in the tournament. "We're here to play good cricket," said ace leg spinner Anil Kumble. "The contract issue has been sorted out. It was not a question of money. We had already entered into contracts. We didn't want to breach that. It was a question of principle and integrity. It's good it has been resolved." Batting genius Sachin Tendulkar said the team was keen to win the tournament. "We're focussed on winning this event. We've come here to play good cricket and don't want to talk about it (contract issue). We're happy we've got a chance to be here," he said.

We can't take Zimbabwe lightly: captain Ganguly

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