SPORT

India will play against any Kiwi team: Dalmiya

New Delhi Nov. 7. A pay dispute involving New Zealand's top cricketers has cast a shadow over the Indian team's tour of that country next month but surprisingly the Indian Cricket Board said today that its team would be happy to play against any team fielded by the host.

The dispute, if unresolved before the Indian tour at the end of this month, would mean that New Zealand cannot field 128 of its top international and first-class cricketers. It would then have to turn to fringe players.

The spectre of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, currently among the leading international cricketers, playing against club players in New Zealand appears unthinkable, but the Indian Board is unfazed.

``As far as BCCI is concerned, the Indian team will certainly tour New Zealand and will be happy to play against any team fielded by the New Zealand Cricket Board,'' BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya said in Kolkata today.

Dalmiya said that the problem between the New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and the players was their ``internal matter'' and had nothing to do with the Indian team's tour.

Top New Zealand cricketers are on strike since October 1 demanding a hike in payments and the issue remains deadlocked despite prolonged negotiations between the players and the NZC.

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