Hours after spot-fixing reared its ugly head in the Indian Twenty20 league, Rajasthan Royals flew into Hyderabad in an atmosphere of grave uncertainty on Thursday morning.
The Delhi police had arrested Royals trio S Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila over spot-fixing matches. The trio was arrested after the team's loss to Mumbai Indians on Wednesday night.
Royals were clearly shaken. From being one of the highlights of the 2013 season, they were acutely embarrassed.
With the career of three teammates facing an abrupt end, insecurity in the camp was justified with no assurance on who could be next.
“Just have no clue how and why this is happening to our team,” a player told HT. “We were all shocked, we don't know how to react!”
A line-up of media vehicles and scribes along with 50-odd fans waited at the gate of the team hotel on Thursday, the spectators more anxious to see whether the disgraced players were travelling with the team.
Extra security was deployed and entry to the lobby cordoned off as the players got down from the bus glum-faced. The missing banter conveyed the shock they were in.
The tension was palpable. Even skipper Rahul Dravid, who always smiles at his fans, ignored the pleas from even the youngest of supporters.
“Don't know why it is happening to someone like Rahul,” added another source. “He has not spoken about it since morning.”
Halla Bol, the team anthem, welcomed them at the hotel but the mood stayed dull. The players made a dash for their rooms straightaway and even at lunch most of them stayed in their rooms, fearing they could be hounded by fans.
Around the same time, some rumours began doing the rounds about two other players in the squad - England's Owais Shah and Australia's Shaun Tait.
Coach Paddy Upton, who was pacing up and down the corridor, called Shah over for a chat with Brad Hogg too joining in for an hour-long discussion in the restaurant.
That Shah was feeling the heat became clear when a young girl went up to him for an autograph and returned disappointed. “He seems very angry. He just stared at me before looking the other way,” she said.
Upton then had a discussion with Dravid. Though it was shorter, the captain and coach appeared to have laid out plans to deal with the situation lest the team implode on the brink of play-offs.
“We are getting over the initial shock. We are fine. In fact, we will come back harder,” said a player.