Barely 24 hours after the 12-week tour of the UK was done, eight of those 15, all the support staff — sans cricket manager Chandu Borde, who has been replaced — and Harbhajan Singh boarded the flight to Johannesburg from London on Monday evening.
And after three weeks on non-stop travel and cricket, the players appeared to be desperately seeking some rest during their 11-hour flight.
All the players sported India blazers as they arrived at the airport. However, just before take off, most switched to shorts and tees, "relaxing" themselves.
While most fell asleep immediately after dinner, a couple enjoyed the Akshay Kumar, Govinda-starrer
, which was on show.
But during the two hours they spent together at Heathrow, the mood was upbeat in this group with an emphasis on youth. Everyone teased everyone else unmercifully, there was a lot of banter and laughter but the man who stole the limelight was Harbhajan.
A few fans tried to get some pictures clicked with the likes of Yuvraj, Dhoni and Agarkar, but Harbhajan, who arriving late at the airport, was mobbed.
Harbhajan incidentally, was the only player to not be in the official blazer as he had joined the team after a four-month county stint with Surrey. He was philosophical, yet seems to have retained his sense of humour. While he was passing a popular television presenter, the presenter remarked, “You were here for some time, weren't you?” And the off-spinner smiled wryly and replied: "In Surrey, I'm an Englishman now."
When they landed in Johannesburg, most had their fingers crossed, hoping that all their luggage had arrived safely on time, unlike post Belfast. This time though, there were no hiccups, and they boarded the bus to their hotel joined by the other lot who had come in from Mumbai. They will hope that this is a small omen of other things going according to plan.