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Fans wait for India to hit top gear

cricket Updated: Mar 16, 2011 23:28 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Hindustan Times
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The normally serene IIT campus here wore a busy look on Wednesday morning. There was hustle and bustle, busy faces here and there and why not? The Indian cricket stars were about to descend there for practice, with the MA Chidambaram Stadium being occupied by England and the West Indies ahead of Thursday's match.

Students, outsiders, policemen, the media and those who hang around that place were out in full strength, close to about a thousand. The wait for them under an increasingly tortuous sun was made longer by the Indian team. The players arrived at around 11.30 am, a good one hour behind schedule.

Rapturous reception
They were given a rousing welcome by the waiting fans. This led one to wonder if this is what they get coming off a defeat, how well the crowd would react if they do better. But this being India and the fans being happy to catch a glimpse of their stars from a distance, the rapturous reception isn't as a surprise.

The arrival of the players didn't match the cheers. Just seven of them — Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Munaf Patel, Piyush Chawla and R Ashwin — turned up. It was learnt this was an optional training session. After three days of total rest, this leaves the team with three more days to get ready for Sunday's game against the West Indies.

No warm-up
It's common to see the players do some stretching and warming up as starters. The Indians, however, didn't do anything of that sort. They disappeared into the dressing room, and after coming out headed straight for batting and bowling.

They were batting in pairs against pace and spin with Kohli and Raina going in first, followed by Yuvraj and Pathan, and then Chawla and Ashwin. Yuvraj did some knocking against throw downs coach Gary Kirsten and his deputy Paddy Upton after the local bowlers got tired. Raina followed him, and only time will tell whether this was an indication of him getting a place in the playing eleven.

Star tantrums
Members of the local organising committee, who look after the teams' activities before and during matches in Chennai, were displeased with the ways of the Indian team. They cancelled Tuesday's training session in the eleventh hour after elaborate security arrangements had been made, and then came late on Wednesday.

"This is the most disgusting lot," said a senior local organising committee member, preferring anonymity. "The Indians just don't follow any routine and don't even inform the people concerned about their plans. Other teams are so different." But then one has to accept a few things while dealing with superstars.