Rajpot: Saurashtra's former Ranji Trophy players and budding cricketers have appealed to the Patidars, who are agitating in Gujarat for the last three months, demanding reservation for their community, not to disrupt the third ODI between India and South Africa to be played here on October 18.
Young cricketers pleading for peace in Rajkot
On Monday, little boys and girls, appealed to the agitating Patidars with folded hands not to use the ODI as a platform to press their demand. They urged them to keep cricket out of politics and let all aficionados of the game enjoy the exciting contest between India and South Africa.
Hardik Patel had announced that the Patidars will purchase more than 20,000 tickets (the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium can accommodate 29,000 spectators) and protest silently during the ODI to draw national and international attention.
On Sunday, more than 25 retired Ranji Trophy cricketers, headed by Mulubha Jadeja and Arvind Pujara, urged the Patidar leader Hardik Patel and his supporters to stay away the much-awaited ODI. The statement, signed by the cricketers and issued by Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) read: "We, former cricketers make a humble appeal to the Patidar community not to use the ODI as a platform for their ongoing agitation.
We believe it is not the right thing to use sport for politics. It is a matter of pride for the people of Saurashtra when Rajkot hosts an international match. Saurashtra enjoys a high reputation at international level. It is not a good thing to tarnish the name and image of Saurashtra and deprive it of international matches in future. We again make a fervent appeal to the Patidar community to help make the ODI in Rajkot a grand success and let the people enjoy it thoroughly," the message said.
Other signatories included Rajendra Jadeja, Chandrashekhar Baxi, Naresh parsana, Prakash Bhatt, Harshad Joshi, Atul Karia, Mohansinh Jadeja and Mahesh Chauhan. Rajkot police and the SCA authorities are making all possible efforts and taking all practical actions they could to scuttle the agitators' designs.
Interestingly, Hardik Patel has boasted that they have already purchased 18,000 tickets. "It's totally untrue. We've sold only 1,000 tickets online so far. The sale of the tickets will start only from October 13," the SCA media manager Himanshu Shah told mid-day.
"My team is sparing no effort to ensure that the ODI is played in a smooth atmosphere. We are going to issue tickets only after collecting the identity proof of the buyer. Any spectator found guilty of misbehaving during the match will be removed from the stadium immediately. The police, too, are leaving no stone unturned," the SCA supremo Niranjan Shah said.