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Gwalior thrilled to greet stars

cricket Updated: Nov 14, 2007 04:26 IST
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SOMETIME BACK, I.S. Bindra, a senior BCCI official, said that people were not getting as much cricket as they wanted.

"All that an association gets is one match a year, which is certainly less than what people want," he said, scoffing at the notion that a packed international calendar and the planned Indian Premier League would amount to killing the golden goose.

One quietly laughed then, thinking that the officialdom would defend anything and everything to sell their product. However, one was actually forced to give a second thought to Bindra's statement after watching the rousing welcome the Indian and Pakistan teams received here.

Fans had lined along the road leading to the airport well before the teams landed. And when the team buses went by, they went berserk, screaming the names of any player they spotted.

It reached a crescendo when the team buses neared the hotel. People were out on the roads, on the roofs, anywhere they could find place. Police actually had to scare away the fans with their lathis when they crowded the hotel gate.

The scene outside the stadium was no different. People had gathered there in large numbers, in the hope that the teams would come there for practice in the evening.

That did not happen, but they were more than satisfied to see Shoaib Malik, who came to have a look at the wicket. It was for the first time in the series that the teams did not have to rush to the venue of the next game.

After Guwahati, for instance, they arrived in Mohali much later than scheduled; and Kanpur was no different. The teams reached there on match eve and the Pakistan skipper could not even have a look at the wicket.

Malik, it seems, has made it a habit to decide to inspect the wicket late in the evenings — he did that at Mohali before Kanpur and, not surprisingly, turned up late here as well.

Anyhow, the players must be rejuvenated after the mini-break after Kanpur and the crowd here could well look forward to a cracking contest.

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