Dismal performance in India's opening World Cup match triggers protests
New Delhi: Cricket fans in several cities on Sunday gave vent to their anger at the Indian team's embarrassing loss to Bangladesh in the World Cup, burning posters and effigies of players and raising slogans against their fallen heroes.
In wicketkeeper M.S. Dhoni's hometown Ranchi, about two dozen people gathered near a house being built on a plot given to him by the Jharkhand Government and set afire an effigy to which the player's poster was pasted.
They raised slogans and asked the Government to take back the plot allotted to Dhoni, who was out for a nought in Saturday's game in the West Indies. The police stepped up vigil at the site and Dhoni's home at Mecon in Ranchi.
In Kanpur, cricket lovers assembled in Lal Bungalow and torched effigies of the out-of-form Virender Sehwag, Dhoni and others. Disappointed fans in Jalandhar held a protest march and burnt the posters of several players, including local boy Harbhajan Singh, Sehwag, skipper Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar.
India suffered a shocking five-wicket loss to the minnows and Dravid's decision to bat first drew flak from protesters in many places.
"Such a poor performance by the Indian team in its first match, that too against a weak team like Bangladesh, has broken our hearts," said a fan in Jalandhar.
Protesters in Allahabad called for the re-inclusion of Mohammad Kaif in the team in place of Sehwag. Fans held protests in several parts of the city, lambasting the team for its "shameful defeat."
They also burnt effigies and posters of Dravid and Sehwag. The protesters said that Kaif's absence badly affected the team and sought his immediate recall.
Devesh Mishra, who coached Kaif in his youth, echoed the sentiment and urged the BCCI to reconsider the case of the Uttar Pradesh player, "who can play well in moments of crisis."
In Patna, cricket enthusiasts burnt posters of Harbhajan Singh, Sehwag, Dravid and Tendulkar.
In the temple city of Varanasi, irate fans burnt effigies of Dravid and Sehwag at several places. They questioned the team's decision to persist with the woefully out-of-form opener Sehwag.Students of the Harishchandra Degree College burnt effigies of Sehwag and other players and alleged the players spent more time appearing in advertisements than preparing for the World Cup.
Fans in Indore led by local Congress leader Anup Shukla set afire photographs of the players.
Expressing displeasure at the protests, former Bihar Ranji Trophy skipper K.V.P. Rao said: "Real fans should support the team now, as it was only the first match and Team India has a good chance to advance in the World Cup." PTI