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Playing on a different wicket

Navjot Singh Sidhu is a much mellowed man today



NEW ROLE Sidhu loves being a commentator photo: Rajeev Bhatt

He was dubbed the "stroke-less wonder" and dumped from the National team in 1994. But after four years of hibernation, Navjot Singh Sidhu rose like a phoenix to emerge as one of the most explosive opening batsmen in the country.

Sidhu has been equally known for courting controversies. He was earlier booked on charges of murder, but the case ended with his acquittal. During the 2003 World Cup, Sidhu had the entire national cricket team baying for his blood over the caustic remarks he made against the Indian team as a commentator.

But those are now things of the past. Sidhu is now enjoying his twin role of being a Member of Parliament and commentator. He, in fact, says that he loves his role as a commentator more than his role as a cricketer.

Of late, he has also tuned towards spiritualism. Like a seasoned monk he can engage you endlessly in a discussion on Sanathana dharma, the universality of religions, the omnipotence and all pervasiveness of God.

"It gives me lot of inner peace and inexhaustible mental strength and energy," he says.

The sardar seems to have mellowed a bit in his criticism of the Indian team too. "Ganguly is the best captain the country has produced. Give him a chance. Don't rubbish him all the time," he pleads.

He adds that those in public glare should learn to accept criticism with humility. "You cannot kick a dead dog. Only by criticism you learn the mistakes."

The present Indian team, he feels, is one of the best knit side and with an average age of 23, looks set to put up a fighting show for the next World Cup. With one of the best pace quartet comprising Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan and Lakshmipathi Balaji, India has all the potential to become the world beaters, says Sidhu.

R. BALAJI

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