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banner Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 11:17 GMT
Indians cry foul
Sachin Tendulkar
Tendulkar is only an occasional bowler in Tests
Indians have reacted with outrage after cricket hero Sachin Tendulkar was found guilty of ball tampering during the second Test in South Africa.

Tendulkar was found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute by former England captain Mike Denness, the International Cricket Council match referee on duty for the game at Port Elizabeth.


Denness the menace
Indian newspaper headline

But from ordinary Indians to midday tabloids to former cricket players the verdict was the same - the decision was unjust and patently unfair.

There is also anger at the decision to suspend several other members of the Indian cricket team, including newcomer Virender Sehwag, for excessive appealing.

Many Indians feel the Indians were penalised but the South Africans escaped punishment for similar offences.

"The decisions are patently prejudiced, especially in th elight of the repeated, intimidating appeals during the Indian innings at Port Elizabeth by South African skipper Shaun Pollock against whom no action was taken," the Midday newspaper said.

Former cricket player and national selector Madan Lal felt that the Indians had been at the receiving end in recent times.

"In the last couple of years a large number of decisions were taken against India," he said.

Cricket player
Young cricket fans are especially shocked

Indian television commentators broadcast video footage of incidents in Australia when Glen McGrath, Ricky Ponting and Michael Slater were let off despite appearing to intimidate and question umpiring decisions.

In the same series, Indian players Venkatesh Prasad and Saurav Ganguly were fined for dissent.

"The problem with the Indians is that they are too nice," said Star News sports correspondent, Sonali Chander.

Tendulkar

Across the country people said they did not believe that Sachin Tendulkar was a cheat.

"I don't believe it," one young boy told the BBC.


Our team should return immediately and to hell with the consequences
Midday newspaper
"He is too great a player to do that."

In South Africa, former cricketer Sunil Gavaskar echoed the view.

"Sachin Tendulkar has an impeccable record in international cricket. He [the match referee] should have looked at his past record before making his decision," he added.

Another former player, Ravi Shastri, said that Tendulkar appeared to be cleaning the ball rather than lifting the seam, which is illegal under ICC laws.

"The man doesn't even have nails. How could he have tampered with the ball?" he asked.

'Come back'

India's cricket board said it was shocked by the decision but would wait to get written confirmation of the sentence before deciding what to do.

"We feel that the match referee's decision was definitely very harsh," board secretary Niranjan Shah told BBC Sport Online.

But many Indians felt that only the strongest action would convey their outrage.

"They should return to India and pull out of the tour," one elderly cricket lover told the BBC.

"I've switched off my television in disgust at this farce."

The Midday was even stronger in its condemnation.

"After the disgraceful, draconian action taken by match referee Mike Denness our team should return immediately and to hell with the consequences," it said.

Cricket websites Rediff.com and cricketnext.com felt that there could only be one explanation.

"If this is not racism then what is?" they said.

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