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banner Friday, 26 January, 2001, 16:06 GMT
Ganguly denied Indian award
Sourav Ganguly
Sourav Ganguly: captain of India
Sandeep Singh reports from Delhi for BBC Sport Online.

Cricket's tainted image after the match-fixing saga has cost Indian captain Sourav Ganguly one of the country's highest awards, announced on the occasion of the 51st anniversary of the Republic.

Ganguly, who has no connection to the scandal, became an unlikely victim of the game's tarnished reputation as his nomination for the prestigious Padma Shri Awards was rejected despite his name being recommended by the panel of judges.

No cricketer was originally nominated for the awards this year, but the vetting panel added Ganguly's name to a list which comprised several other sport stars.

Leander Paes
Leander Paes: Chosen for the award

However, BBC Sport Online understands that Government officials objected to the panel's move and removed Ganguly's name from this year's awards.

Traditionally the list has been dominated by cricketers - not so this year.

Chess grandmaster Viswanathan Anand, tennis duo Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, India's former hockey skipper Dhanraj Pillay, squash player Bhuvaneswari Kumari and disabled athlete Malathi Krishnamurthy Holla were the sport's stars to feature.

More than 1,500 recommendations were received this year by the panel but no cricketer's name figured among them.

It appeared to be a direct fallout of the match-fixing malaise which has inflicted a deep scar on the psyche of the cricket-addicted nation.

Dhanraj Pillay
Dhanraj Pillay: Honoured

Ganguly took over from Sachin Tendulkar as the Indian skipper last season and is certain to lead the country in the home series against Australia starting next month.

He has not been tainted by the match-fixing drama in which some cricketers acted with bookmakers to influence the result of matches.

But the poor image of the game, after match-fixing came out in the open, went against Ganguly when nominations for the national awards were decided.

Nevertheless, the stylish left-handed batsman remains a strong nominee for the lifetime achievement awards next year.

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