Top Indian players boycott UAE event

Published April 27, 2005

NEW DELHI, April 26: Ageing Indian veterans will take on leading players from Pakistan and Sri Lanka in an unofficial one-day series early next month in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, organisers said on Tuesday. The May 1-3 event, approved by the International Cricket Council, will be the first major tournament at the new Sheikh Zayed cricket stadium and will raise funds for tsunami relief work, Abu Dhabi cricket official Ravi Pandit said.

While the Sri Lankan and Pakistani teams will be led by respective national captains Marvan Atapattu and Inzamam-ul-Haq, India will be represented by former Test players and veteran first-class cricketers.

“We were unable to get top Indian players like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, so we took the help of former captain Kapil Dev to raise a team for our event,” Pandit said.

“The exact composition of the Indian team is not known but I can confirm that former players like Robin Singh, Sunil Joshi and Ajay Jadeja will take part.”

The Sri Lankan team, announced on Monday by the government-appointed interim cricket committee, includes all the top players except the four engaged in English county cricket: Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Chaminda Vaas and Upul Chandana.

Pakistan will field the same squad that completed a successful tour of India earlier this month, winning the one-day series 4-2 after drawing the Test rubber 1-1, Pandit said.

With the matches not granted official status, the three teams will be known as the Indian Masters, Pakistan Masters and Sri Lanka Masters.

The Sri Lankans will meet the Indians on May 1 and the Pakistanis on May 2, while the Indians will clash with the Pakistanis on May 3. There will be no final.

This is the second time in the last 12 month that India has shunned a cricket event in Abu Dhabi.

Last April, the Indian cricket board declined to send a team for an exhibition match against Pakistan which was supposed to inaugurate the 20,000-capacity Zayed Stadium.

India have not played official cricket in the UAE since March, 2000 following a directive from the government to avoid off-shore venues like Abu Dhabi’s neighbouring emirate, Sharjah, following a global match-fixing scandal.—AFP

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