Cricket: Indian management fails to sway Sidhu

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The Independent Online
Navjot Sidhu, one of India's most experienced Test players, has decided not to reconsider his sudden decision to retire from international cricket, writes Derek Pringle.

A meeting with the team's management in Chelmsford failed to get him to change his mind, and he has packed his bags, waiting for the opportunity to fly home. The problem, it seems, revolves around Sidhu's deteriorating relationship with his captain, Mohammed Azharuddin. Repeatedly dropped by Azharuddin from India's one-day sides, Sidhu feels he has been made a scapegoat for the side's indifferent results.

This is not the first time Sidhu has been involved in controversy. In 1988, he was involved in an early case of road rage, in which a man was killed. Charged with causing death by a rash and negligent act, the case was dropped by the Indian police a year later after a friend of Sidhu's - the car's driver - was jailed for manslaughter.

The controversy, however, lingers on and the victim's family are now pursuing a civil action against the Test batsman. It is a situation that has made it necessary for Sidhu to seek police permission to leave India and come on tour. His sudden departure has left his team in a bit of a pickle, and they go into next week's Test match at Edgbaston without an experienced opening batsman. Instead of sending for another batsman, India have called up Salil Ankola, a seam bowler, though he apparently was already on his way before Sidhu decided to quit. He will join the party in Leicester on Saturday.

The acting captain Sachin Tendulkar, Vikram Rathore and Saurav Ganguly enjoyed some batting practice yesterday as India faced a depleted Essex attack on the opening day of their Tetley Challenge match at Chelmsford. The trio each scored half-centuries to help the tourists to 320 for 8 declared.

Rathore led the way with 95, hitting four sixes among his 10 boundaries. Tendulkar followed with 74, but he will have been disappointed not to have reached three figures against an attack lacking Mark Ilott, who was rested, and deprived of Steve Andrew for the final two sessions. Ganguly chimed in with 51.

Essex scored one without loss from five deliveries before bad light ended play three-quarters of an hour early.

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