- Title: INDIA: CRICKET: India's dismal defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka sparks protests
- Date: 25th March 2007
- Summary: JALANDAR, PUNJAB, INDIA (MARCH 24, 2007) (ANI) POLICEMEN DEPLOYED OUTSIDE THE RESIDENCE OF HARBHAJAN SINGH
- Embargoed: 9th April 2007 17:49
- Location: India
- Country: India
- Topics: Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA3S0NRS4UBG44ZPPON5APZOYAU
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: India virtually crashed out in the first round after a shattering 69-run defeat to Sri Lanka in a crunch Group B match on Friday (March 23), sparking off protests across the country.
Their slim hopes of progressing now hinge on an unlikely defeat for Bangladesh in Sunday's final group game against Bermuda.
The 1983 champions were skittled in the 44th over as they failed miserably in their attempt to chase Sri Lanka's challenging total of 254 for six.
The chief of Indian cricket board Sharad Pawar slammed the national team for its dismal performance.
"Indian team has disappointed board and the nation as a whole. Our expectation was quite high for the team, which was right also. Probably India is a country whose board provides maximum facilities and support to the players, with an expectation that they should deliver the goods. Lose or win always happens in sports but the performance in both the matches especially against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka was not at all up to the mark," he said.
Protesters in Allahabad, shouted slogans and burnt cricket equipment to express their anger.
Locals said they have lost interest in the game after the loss of the team.
"Now, we would not like to show interest in cricket anymore in the World Cup. They players are taking the game as their business only and are not playing with the right spirit," said local man Bipin Chandra Rai.
In Ranchi, home of wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, cricket fans tore-up posters of the team and shouted slogans.
"We had high hopes for the team, we thought that we would celebrate the team's victory. But we are very disappointed. This should not have happened but it did... we did not expect such a performance from Dhoni. He has performed well earlier but what can we do," said Muzahid Alam.
Meanwhile, security has been stepped up at the residences of the cricketers, as tempers were high after the team's shock defeat to Bangladesh last week.
"To make sure that no untoward incident takes place the police and district administration has made these precautionary arrangements," said Kartar Singh Sendhi, Harbhajan Singh's brother at his home in Punjab.
India coach Greg Chappell hoped the team's latest defeat at the World Cup would not spark violence in the country though the former Australian skipper refused to lay the blame at anyone's door for the poor performances.
India now eagerly awaits the final match in Pool B, between Bermuda and Bangladesh to be played on March 25.
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