Friday was a day totally cut off from cricket for the Delhi Daredevils team. Some went on wildlife safari, some to the Sun City while a few wandered around aimlessly around Sandton City/Nelson Mandela Square adjacent to the hotel.
Their Saturday’s opponents, Chennai Super Kings, on the other hand had an optional training session in the evening outside the Wanderers’ Bull Ring.
With a cool breeze blowing across, it was a different experience watching the team train in a rugby ground. The Lodge Security staff manning the practice area also doubled up as ball retrievers for the innumerous sixes that fell into the driveway. Best part was, there was no restriction on player access.
I got the chance to get a closer look at the players and evesdrop
Muttiah Muralitharan and India’s bowling coach Venkatesh Pradesh had an interesting conversation in Tamil after the session.
Prasad told Murali the Indian team found Ajantha Mendis ‘a mystery’. “We could not sort him out,” he said.
Murali replied: “If Mendis does not turn the ball, he is easy to pick. But once he starts turning, you never know which direction the ball would turn. My own players in Sri Lanka find him difficult.”
Prasad responded, “we watch a lot of videos of him and you and still we find you both tough to handle.”
Murali aagain: “Why do you have to watch me on video? I have been bowling the same thing for 18 years!”
The Lankan, who is a funny sight with the bat, challenged Prasad to score a Test 60 against India. “I once smashed Sourav Ganguly out of the park and he was very angry,” Murali told Prasad.
The conversation was interrupted by Makhaya Ntini, who is always upto some mischief or the other. CSK’s director of operations, V. B. Chandrasekhar, who was there listening to their chat, received a bear hug from Ntini, with a ‘helloooooo Veee Beeee’ that echoed across the ground.
Murali exchanged pleasantries (for the nth time in the day) with Ntini and shook his hand. The next reaction from the Lankan was, “What are you doing, Makhaya, don’t break my ****ing finger.”
Meanwhile, the team’s player-coach Stephen Fleming hopped across to check the result of Mumbai Indians-Kolkata Knight Riders. He exclaimed, “Oh, Mumbai have won."