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'Indian team symbolises unity in diversity'

Published: Sunday, July 25, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Kolkata:Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday hailed the Indian cricket team saying it symbolised the country's underlined principal of 'unity in diversity'.

Mukherjee, speaking at the annual prize distribution ceremony of Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), described cricket as a 'passion' in India.

Mukherjee said the team was "led from the front" by a Bengali brahmin Sourav Ganguly while the pace attack was spearheaded by two Muslim youths - Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan - and a Tamil brahmin Laxmipathy Balaji.

"The team is ably aided by the electric fielding by a Muslim youth from Allahabad - Mohammad Kaif - while the spin bowling department was in the able hands of a Sikh, Harbhajan Singh," he said.

Continuing in the same vein, he said the team was trained by three Christians - coach John Wright, physio Andrew Leipus and physical trainer Gregory Allen King.

"So I think that the Indian team rightly exemplifies our underlined principal of unity in diversity."

Referring to India's recent tour of Pakistan, Mukherjee said the Indian team had not only returned triumphant, but also won hearts of the people of the neighbouring country.

"This tour has definitely helped in bettering Indo-Pak relations. Not only the Indian team received hearty welcome wherever it went, even the thousands of people who went to witness the matches, were moved by the friendship extended by the masses in Pakistan. Though the teams fought very hard in the field, the national flags of the two countries fluttered side by side in gallery,'' he said.

"Besides cinema, it is the most popular family entertainment in the country," the minister said.

Speaking on the occasion, CAB president Jagmohan Dalmiya referred to the Centre of Academic Excellence set up at the CAB headquarters in Eden Gardens and said it was an attempt to help sport researchers in their work.

Dalmiya, also the president of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), said Boria Mazumdar had been appointed the director of the centre.

On the occasion, CAB presented the first Kartik Bose Lifetime Achievement Award to former Bengal skipper P B Dutta.

Dutta was presented a memento, a cash award of rupees one lakh and a Bengal blazer along with a citation acknowledging his unparallel contribution to Bengal cricket.

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