“M.S. Dhoni is in the building”, an official from organisers, Reebok, announced. Of course, that was after it had already been delayed by an hour. His flight was delayed, he said, but the joke on how he would have been there on time had he used the brand's shoes fell flat.
Then, to loud drum 'n' bass and a concert worthy lighting set, the six members of the Indian WC squad were announced.
‘Angry Man’ Gautam Gambhir (would he have liked that?), ‘Terminator’ Harbhajan Singh, 'Master Blaster, The Destroyer' Yusuf Pathan, shouted the sponsor. Err... Ok. Pathan walked out to a frenzy of flashing cameras, looking like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
But he played along, posing with the rest of his teammates, all other than Dhoni looking a bit ill-at-ease.
Sponsor press conferences are never exciting, no matter how much Star Wars music is played. Journalists are expected to ask questions on the 'competitive edge' that their products will give and the athletes will always begin with ‘Thanks to sponsor…’
Tuesday's event was more exciting, perhaps for the wrong reasons. Yusuf, Gautam, Dhoni, Harbhajan, Yuvraj and Piyush were made to wear the new-fangled shoes and run an obstacle course.
Although the players did their best to keep the crowd entertained, thankfully no one tripped. With just two weeks to the World Cup, a dodgy step would have left an entire nation furious.
A new bat was presented touting ‘extra-spring’ in the handle and a bulge behind the bat's sweet spot before the photo shoot with the trophy. All six, other than Gambhir, were asked to hold their new bats aloft for the cameras.
There is one final exciting moment before any such press conference ends. At the end of the Q&A session, where the captain is called upon the most --- (Yuvraj and Piyush uttered ten words each) --- and all answers must contain the sponsor's name, the journalists are told to ask the dreaded ‘final question’.
Like Spiderman with danger, journalists can sense this. Hands go up, voices get louder, everyone shouts their question hoping the star will choose his or hers.
A last, significant question to avoid the sponsors' control over the athletes. It hardly works amidst the bedlam.