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Laxman, Kumble disappointed

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, DEC. 4. A storm is building up within the Indian cricket team with V.V.S. Laxman and Anil Kumble pained at being repeatedly ill-treated by the team management and the National selectors.

When announcing the team for the three-match one-day series against Bangladesh, the selectors had indicated that Laxman and Kumble had been `rested', keeping in mind the nature of the competition.

But no selector cared to inform Laxman, who learnt of his omission only from a well-wisher. "Why should I be rested. I never asked for any rest. I'm fit and as keen as anyone else. I'm very hurt with this treatment. Why do I deserve this?" asked Laxman, understandably angry with the developments.

Kumble, who has been at the receiving end despite his stellar contribution to Indian cricket, was also unhappy. "I don't want to sit and watch a one-day international. I want to be playing in the eleven," was his reaction for having `opted out' of the one-day series in Bangladesh.

Laxman, responsible for changing the face of Indian cricket with that epic 281 against Australia at the Eden Gardens, left Kolkata a shattered man at the end of the Test against South Africa. As one of the team members remarked, Laxman had saved the jobs for captain Sourav Ganguly and coach John Wright with that grand knock.

Fielding was the main reason given by the selectors for Laxman's exclusion but the gentleman cricketer from Hyerabad pointed out, "I know I was never spectacular but my level of fielding has not deteriorated.

"The same standard of fielding was good when it suited some people," said a dejected Laxman, who was also disappointed with the way he had been shunted down the batting order.

In the past year, support for Laxman has come from only Wright. According to Wright, the best position for Laxman was number three because of his positive attitude and a wide range of strokes. Strangely, the slot is now thrust on Laxman only in exacting circumstances, as it happened against Australia at Mumbai. The two most significant performers of Indian cricket for three seasons now, feel let down by the team management, which includes Ganguly and vice-captain Rahul Dravid.

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