Stiff competition for Castrol cricketer award

Published: Tuesday, August 15, 2006, 20:40 [IST]
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Colombo:Yesterday's car bomb blast cost Team India its Independence Day celebrations and the Men in Blue had to postpone their programme for today as well in the wake of the heightened security in the city.

Rahul Dravid's men were supposed to go to the Indian mission, a few 100 meters from its base at Taj Samudra hotel, to celebrate independence day this morning but they changed their minds owing to the situation in the city.

''We had a chance to go to the High Commission at 0730 hrs.

But that would have required separate security arrangements, including escorts, and so we had to cancel it,'' Team India's media manager Rajan Nair told UNI.

Meanwhile, security has been beefed up in the team hotels while Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is doing its best to convince the South Africans to stay back.

Reports claimed that Cricket South Africa CEO Gerald Majola and injured regular captain Greame Smith are in favour of withdrawing the team at the earliest.

According to sources, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse sent a senior police official to the hotels, where the Indian and South African teams are staying, with assurance of foolproof security for the tri-nation tournament.

The SLC officials are quite upset with the South African attitude and one of them, on condition of anonymity, said ''There were blasts in London during the Ashes but Australia did not pull out. Here the President himself sent someone with the assurance that highest possible security will be provided but still they are hell-bent on withdrawing. Actually it seems that having lost the Test series here, the injury-depleted South Africa is just looking for an excuse to go back.'' In case South Africa withdraws, SLC might approach the ICC seeking punishment against the Proteas.

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