Published: Thursday, April 3, 2003, 0:43 [IST]
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New Delhi: India's top film star Amitabh Bachchan on Tuesday called for resumption of cricket matches between India and Pakistan, saying the game should not be a victim of politics. "Sports and art should not become a prey to political compulsions," Bachchan said at a function where the team sponsors presented Saurav Ganguly's World Cup squad with seven-star luxury apartments. "But if the government feels that we should not play Pakistan now, we should obey that," Bachchan added. Archrivals India and Pakistan had on Saturday called off forthcoming cricket tours of each other's countries. The Indian government has banned bilateral cricket with Pakistan since 1999 in protest against Islamabad's alleged support to Islamic militants in the disputed region of Kashmir. Pakistan denies the allegations. The teams, however, clash in multi-nation events like the recent World Cup where India defeated Pakistan by six wickets in the preliminary round. Team sponsors Sahara India (Amby Valley) gave all 15 members of the World Cup team, and the support staff led by coach John Wright, luxury apartments despite India's 125-run defeat in the final against Australia. "Our team won other matches convincingly and our players put up some of the most fabulous performances in the World Cup," Sahara India chairman Subrata Roy said. Roy said the apartment complex in the western state of Maharashtra (Lonavala), worth more than $ 4.7 million, would be named the 'World Cup Enclave' when it is ready later this year. "This gift is just a token of our appreciation for the team. We are sure our team will perform even better in the future," said Roy. Super star Amitabh Bachchan said the Indian cricketers richly deserved the accolades and awards after their fine show in the recently concluded World Cup in South Africa. "The players put in their heart and soul to make it to the final and that itself has to be rewarded as they beat most of the other teams quite convincingly before losing to a better team on that day in the final", Bachchan said. Asked whether he saw the World Cup matches live the superstar said "Whenever I see India play, they tend to lose and hence I decided not to watch any of the Indian matches so that they win all of them. However, it was too much for me to restrain from watching the final and unfortunately the Indians lost." To a query whether too much of attention was being given to cricket only and that the other sports were being neglected, he said "It is a great achievement to reach the World Cup final and we have not had this kind of performance in other sports and in future if sports persons from other sports start performing in big events like World Cups they too should be given the same prominence." Asked Whether he has played cricket, Bachchan said, "I still do, but with rubber and tennis balls." Agencies

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