BCCI blames media for stirring up a hornet~~s nest

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2007, 4:01 [IST]
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Mumbai:Indian cricket board president Sharad Pawar has slammed sections of the country's media for stirring up unrest following the national team's shock defeat to Bangladesh in their World Cup opener.

Irate fans hurled stones at a house being built by wicketkeeper Mahendra Dhoni in his hometown of Ranchi and burnt effigies of captain Rahul Dravid and coach Greg Chappell after that defeat.

India rebounded on Monday with a record victory over Bermuda but still need to beat former champions Sri Lanka on Friday to ensure they qualify for the next round.

"A section of the electronic media goes to town on the blame game, trying to find out who is responsible for the defeat. It is not good," Pawar was quoted by local media on Tuesday.

"The media gives disproportionate coverage to cricket and it goes a long way in raising expectations. They praise the team sky high when it wins... sometimes things go wrong."

India's World Cup-frenzy has been fuelled by television channels and media outlets touting the team as favourites. Since their arrival in the Caribbean last month, India's every move has been tracked minute-by-minute.

"Right now what is needed is to lift the morale of the cricketers because they are too tensed. Cricket is a game of chance and luck," said Pawar, who is also an influential central minister.

Local media reported on Tuesday that opener Virender Sehwag's house near New Delhi was put under police security following the attack on Dhoni's house.

"It is the media which made him (Dhoni) into a hero, the attack is most unfortunate."

Ignore boorish fan behaviour, Dravid tells his players: Meanwhile India captain Rahul Dravid in Port of Spain in a press meeting has called on his players to stay strong and ignore the boorish behaviour of their supporters back at home.

Irate fans in cricket-mad India pelted stones at a player's house and burnt effigies of players and coach following India's shock opening Group B defeat by Bangladesh.

They still need to beat Sri Lanka on Friday to ensure they qualify for the next round.

"We should be used to it, effigies get burnt every day," Dravid told reporters after the Bermuda win.

"You don't lose sleep over somebody shouting 'Dravid, hai, hai' (down, down)," he said. "People should get on with life and be resilient. We have got some important games coming up."

Dravid said players were mainly concerned about their families.

"The worrying thing is the safety of our families, we have some young families out there.

Indian cricketers face adulation like movie stars, but face regular criticism from fans who often react violently if the team flops.

Media held responsable: Dravid blamed the media for whipping up expectations, referring particularly to the blanket coverage provided by India's numerous TV channels.

"Obviously, there is a huge exposure in the media," he said. "They compete with each other for space, eye-balls.

"It is probably a trend which is going to be there and is probably going to get worse. It is not for me to say whether it is right or wrong.

"There are people who make these decisions on what to put on air, what to write or what sort of lines to take. We have to accept it and learn to cope with it.

India has a history of boorish fan behaviour.

Before the last World Cup, crowds attacked batsman Mohammad Kaif's house after the team lost a warmup game and struggled to beat the Netherlands in the opening match.

Leading batsman Sachin Tendulkar had to read out a statement condemning such actions and urging fans to support the team.

At the 1996 World Cup, a violent Eden Gardens crowd forced the semi-final against eventual champions Sri Lanka to be abandoned with hosts India on the verge of defeat.

Three years later, Pakistan beat India in front of stands at the same venue after rioting fans were ejected during an Asian test championship match.

Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer died in a Jamaican hospital on Sunday after he was found unconscious in his room, the day after his team were knocked out of the World Cup after losing to debutants Ireland.

Dravid said it was not fair to discuss whether Woolmer had to deal with excessive pressure in his job, lavishing praise on him as "a man of cricket".


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