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Dada Army takes on Barmy Army in pitch battle

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 27 (UNI) As Rahul Dravid and Andrew Flintoff renew their rivalry in the first one dayer here tomorrow, another India-England battle will take place, off-the-field, at the Ferozeshah Kotla with two vociferous sides trying to outscream each other and roaring into each others' eardrum.

''It's going to be a battle of the decibels and we are ready to give the illustrious Barmy Army a good run for their money,'' said Shyam S Sharma, the man behind ''Dada Army''.

An ardent cricket lover by passion and a lawyer by profession, Mr Sharma, however, admits the it was the British band of supporters who inspired him to conceive his brainchild -- Dada Army.

''Sourav Gangluy was going great gun then and he was aptly called Dada -- the elder brother. The way he protected Virender Sehwag, Mohammad Kaif, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and others, it was as if he was their true elder brother. So we decided to name it Dada Army and vowed to stand by them -- whatever be the outcome of any match,'' Mr Sharma recalled how he came up with the idea in 1999.

Shouting ''Aapne Bachhe, Sab Se Achchhe'' (Our boys are the best) and ''Whatever You Do, We Are With You'', the Dada Army gradually spread its wings with NRIs in UK, Australia and South Africa and presently boasts of a membership of about 700.

''The Swamy Army members also mingled with us and we grew in numbers,'' he said.

Meanwhile, on tomorrow's match, Mr Sharma said, ''We have a strategy already in place. Around 230 members of the Dada Army will be deployed tomorrow with atleast 40 in each stand screaming at the top of their voice.'' ''It's as much a match between the cricket teams as much the supporters. We were a bit demoralised in Mumbai and would like to avenge that here in Delhi,'' he said.

Mr Sharma, however, insisted barracking has no place in cricket and lambasted the spectators who booed out Sachin Tendulkar in the Mumbai Test.

''If your son or younger brother fails, you don't drive him out of the house. Similarly when you root for the team, you can't disown a player just because he has failed. And Sachin has served the country for so long with distinction. Those who jeered him instead of cheering, should be ashamed of themselves.'' Asked how the members of the army felt now that Ganguly, after whom the group is named, is outside the squad, Mr Sharma said, ''It's sad that he was treated in such a shoddy manner, he simply did not deserve it. Whether to play him or not should be left to the selectors but he has been made a victim.'' Opining Ganguly deserves to be back in the side now that Sachin is out with injury and Sehwag is also battling with fitness, he criticised Kiran More for his ''anti-Gangly'' stance and said, ''We expected More to be more responsible and sensible in his dealing with a player of Ganguly's calibre but he let us down.'' The Dada Army has its own website as well through which the members keep in touch but according to Mr Sharma, sponsorship is the need of the hour to keep things going.

''Here we lag lightyears behind the Barmy Army. They have their sponsors and the England cricket team donates memorabilia which they auction and fund their travels.'' ''It's said that India plays well only in home ground and we want to give them homely atmosphere whererever it goes. But travelling on your own leaves a hole in the pocket and not many people can't afford that. Sponsorship is just the need of the hour,'' he added.

UNI AY PM SND1155

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