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Manjrekar leads the play...

From hosting `Cricket World Cup Week' on the BBC World to doing running commentary for Set Max, former Indian cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar has his hands full this World Cup, says ZIYA US SALAM... .


AS A cricketer he held his own against the fearsome pace attack of Pakistan and the West Indies. Still, the purists say, he never quite did justice to his talent. Now, soft-spoken, straight-talking Sanjay Manjrekar has turned a new leaf. And turned commentator. This past week in New Delhi he took another step in the endless cycle of evolution. This time by launching BBC World's `Cricket World Cup Week' with customary flair, with predictable finesse.

"I have not left the commentator's box. It is not that I have a long-term relationship with the BBC. It is a cricket show, a curtain raiser for the World Cup. I did it because I have been trying to add another aspect to what I have already been doing." For this one-off show, Sanjay Manjrekar has worked hard. And across the world. "I travelled to South Africa, to Sri Lanka for this show. I went to Africa to know what exactly is happening there before the World Cup. Mine is the only show where all the three Asian captains - Saurav Ganguly of India, Waqar Younis of Pakistan and Sanath Jayasuriya of Sri Lanka - have made an appearance." Incidentally, though Ganguly had been away in New Zealand, Manjrekar managed to get across to him in the few days India captain spent at home before flying off to South Africa.

Meanwhile, he is optimistic about India's chances at the World Cup. "I would put India on a par with Pakistan as favourites alongwith Australia and South Africa. I don't think we can call India a mere dark horse at the tournament. That can be used for the West Indies."

This optimism despite the recent setbacks in New Zealand? "Yes, I know we did badly there. But that was a freakish series. In South Africa they will play betters. The conditions will be more conducive to strokeplay. They will be more at ease on those wickets."

ZIYA US SALAM

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