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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

“is baar World Cup zaroor jeetna hai.”

New Delhi: Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had barely stepped off the aerobridge at flashy Terminal 3, on Monday evening, when he was greeted with namastes and “is baar World Cup zaroor jeetna hai.”

More pressure? Of course.

That came from around half-a-dozen senior airline and security personnel, who’d been waiting for Team India’s arrival from Bangalore.

Our next match, against The Netherlands, is at the Kotla on Wednesday.

Koshish to poori karenge,” Dhoni replied, wanting to quickly head for the team hotel after the two-and-a-half hour flight.

Somebody said that a garlanding session had been arranged, apparently by the Delhi and District Cricket Association, but Dhoni wasn’t keen on a time-wasting exercise.

Turning to senior-most pro Sachin Tendulkar, Dhoni asked “garlanding kya hona chahiye? Never before has it been done here...” Sachin suggested that, being the captain, only he be garlanded.

Even that didn’t happen, though.

Not that any of the players appeared to be disappointed. One, in fact, told The Telegraph: “A photo-op had been planned for some officials, that’s it...”

Vice-captain Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Piyush Chawla and manager Ranjib Biswal came in the morning itself, but the rest took Jet’s 4.35 pm flight out of Bangalore.

The presence of Sachin, Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh (MoM on Sunday) and the others came as a pleasant surprise to the co-passengers, resulting in chaos at different times during the flight.

All because many passengers kept moving towards the first row of economy for photographs and/or autographs of Dhoni (window seat), Harbhajan Singh, Sachin; Yuvraj (window seat), Virat Kohli, Zaheer Khan.

Sachin was the most in demand, followed by Dhoni and Yuvraj. Next came Harbhajan, Zaheer and Virat. Not that he’s a category C player, but Yusuf Pathan fell in the third lot.

Sreesanth hasn’t played after the opener, in Dhaka, but he wasn’t short of admirers, a couple of whom were part of the cabin crew.

“I need one more,” Sreesanth pleaded when Bournville Almond minis were being handed out as part of a promotional. On getting the second, he presented both, with much flourish, to a petite airhostess, making her blush.

After showing that he was quite a ladies’ man, Sreesanth put on his Bose headphones and was high on music for the remainder of the flight.

Sreesanth, incidentally, chose to change seats (he’d been sandwiched between Munaf Patel and Yusuf) and sat next to members of the support staff.

Ravichandran Ashwin, by the way, seemed quite peppy. Could have been because he stands an excellent chance of taking Chawla’s place in the XI.

Chawla has been a disaster.


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