Eden cries for Ganguly

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/A/Apcalprotest.jpg' class='caption'> "Bring Dada Back" seemed to be the sole agenda of the crowd that filled up every inch of the Eden Gardens.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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It was a stunningly unusual sight at the jam-packed Eden Gardens on Friday - Indian skipper Rahul Dravid was walking back to the pavilion and the crowd was on its feet, applauding the cheap dismissal! It was just one of the ways the strong crowd chose to stick to its 'No Sourav No match' diktat and give a thumbs-down to Greg Chappell and Dravid. "Bring Dada Back" seemed to be the sole agenda of the crowd that filled up every inch of the Eden Gardens, the home ground of the former Indian skipper, for the fourth cricket one-dayer between India and South Africa. Murmurs of dissent Isolated murmurs of dissent that began in the very first over of the match with Irfan Pathan's dismissal turned into shrill cries of Chappell hatao, desh bachao (remove Chappell and save the country) and Sachin hai, hai when Tendulkar's two-run tryst with the crease ended. Cries of Dravid, hai hai. Dravid Murdabad (Shame on Dravid) reverberated through the galleries when the captain was dismissed after making just six runs. "This is what a team without Ganguly looks like at Eden - a pack of cards", said Satyabrata Ghosh, who works with a state-government concern and had applied for leave a month in advance to be at Eden. Spectators constantly booed at the players on their way to and from the pitch and showed their ire in posters that read Dada is dada, Chappell is gadha (Dada is big brother, Chappell is a fool) and "Sourav, the forgotten hero". "It is a great irony of fate that the day Ganguly scored 158 in the Pune Ranji match, Chappell's boys here are playing exactly like boys," said Sudipto Roy, corporate executive. Black flags at Eden Black flags dotted the stadium and black bandanas became a style statement as hawkers made hay selling small, square pieces of black clothes for Rs 5 outside the stadium - all to exhibit the Bengalis' hurt pride. Unaccustomed to an Eden match without Ganguly (the Bengal left-hander has played all but one of India's matches ever since his debut in 1996), the crowd indulged in a constant verbal battering of Chappell Inc, paying scant regard to Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee's earnest request to "keep Bengal's honour". "If this is how Sachin plays, what's the point in letting him continue and dropping Sourav," said a teenager with an Indian tricolour painted on his cheeks. However, there were also a few logical thinkers. Anutosh Mukherjee, who shares Ganguly's neighbourhood in Behala, said, "it is clear from the nature of the wicket that even Sourav's presence in the team would not have made any difference." Another regular at Eden, Rajiv Gupta, said, "I would have liked to see Ganguly leading here. But anyway I don't want to see the team lose either." (PTI)

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