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Tendulkar opens 'India room' at the Oval


LONDON, June 21 2005

Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar was the cynosure of all eyes as he opened a magnificent 'India room' at the newly built 25-million pound stand at the Oval cricket stadium here on Monday evening.

A visibly thrilled Tendulkar, who was here to support the Twenty20 tsunami fund raiser between an Asia Xi and an International XI, said: "It is a great honour. Surrey is my favourite place where I played my hundredth test. It was a special moment for me."

Present on the occasion were sir john major, former British Prime Minister who played a key role in raising funds for the new stand, Kamalesh Sharma, Indian High Commissioner to the UK, and some of the leading NRI industrialists including Sir Gulam Noon of Noon Products, G P Hinduja and Ashok Hinduja of the Hinduja Foundation, Kartar Lalvani, chief of Vitabiotics Ltd, Lord Bagri, Nadeem Ahmed, chief of Global Tea and Commodities and Sonjoy Chatterjee, Chief of ICICI, UK, who among them raised 500,000 pounds (approx. Rs four crore) for the India room.

Others present included former India wicket-keeper batsman Farooq Engineer. Describing Tendulkar as "the greatest batsman I have ever seen," Paul Sheldon, chief executive, Surrey County Cricket Club, said the Indian maestro had always extended his support for raising funds for relief of the tsunami victims.

He said though Tendulkar underwent an operation for tennis elbow, he still insisted on being present at all the matches organised to raise funds for the tsunami victims.

"We deeply appreciate what you have done," Paul said.

Tendulkar, who was to feature in both the lord's match held on June 14 and Monday's match at the Oval, had to pull out after undergoing the elbow surgery in London.

Talking about the surgery, Tendulkar told PTI: "I'm making steady progress. I am leaving for Mumbai tomorrow."

More than 1.1 million pounds was raised through the match and it would be spent on building 100 new houses, including a community centre and a sports/cricket field in Sri Lanka.

Sir Gulam Noon thanked the Surrey County for giving the NRIs an opportunity to raise funds and naming one of the magnificent rooms in the newly built stand as 'India room'. "It is a proud moment for all of us."

Describing Tendulkar as "one of the world's greatest cricketer of all time," Sir Major, a former chief of the Surrey County Club and a keen cricket enthusiast, recalled the "tremendous contribution made by Indians" to cricket right from Ranji (Indian prince Ranjitsinhji, one of the finest batsmen of all times) and Poly Umrigar (former India captain) who scored a century here in 1959.

"It is a tremendous feeling to have this room named as India room because of the great contribution to cricket by Indians - the very different style and glamour and the tremendous entertainment they have brought to the game," he said.

Dr Kartar Lalvani said, "naming one of the key rooms as India room in Oval is a rare privilege for NRIs" and said he was happy to be part of those who contributed to the venture.



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