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Kotla Diary: Lalu & superheroes join the party

The Railway Minister made a brief appearance at the Old Clubhouse stand, reports Anam Arsalan.

cricket Updated: Nov 24, 2007 12:29 IST
Anam Arsalan

Indian skipper Anil Kumble earned praise from unexpected quarters on Friday. "He is in the same league as the four legendary Indian spinners, said Salahuddin Ahmed, the chairman of Pakistan's selection committee, at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Friday.

Salahuddin, who played five Tests for Pakistan during the 1960s, also compared Kumble with the former Australian leg-spinner, Richie Benaud.

"Like him (Benaud), Kumble has the ability to bowl on all kinds of pitches. In fact, the flipper he bowled yesterday was very much like the ball Richie used to bowl," he added.

Moving on to the hot topic of the day --- the spat between the BCCI and the Indian selectors --- he said: "I am not sure what the situation here is but we can write columns and speak to the media back home. But usually we avoid doing that as it's not correct to criticise the players we ourselves select."

Ahmed, in his 10th tenure as a selector over the last 27 years, said: "Earlier, it used to be an honorary post but now it's become a paid job…. I don't have to worry about the financial part of it. The tough part is that we are more accountable for everything we do."

Brisk business for painters

Signboard painter Ravi is doing brisk business, and that too without having to slog the whole day at work. All he does is carry a box of paint and a few brushes along and cricket fans automatically come to him. "Seeing the stuff in my hand, the fans come to me, wanting to paint their faces and foreheads with the colours of the flags of the two teams," he said. "I must have painted 200 to 250 faces and foreheads today only!" he added.

So how much does he charge? "It's pretty cheap, just Rs 10," he said. He also peddles miniature India and Pakistan flags, which are hot favourites among the fans. The fans themselves did not lack creativity --- the one dressed up as Superman hogged the limelight, with the shutterbugs straining to take his photographs.

A test of their own

The Test hasn't seen the sort of crowd an ODI may witness, but the number of people at the gates was higher than expected, putting the cops on guard.

Still, some men in khaki managed to take time off to do what they had to do --- either try to watch some cricket or attend to more pressing business. After the end of play, a studious group was seen going through sample question papers for departmental exams.

Lalu at the ground

Among the celebrities who made their presence felt at the stadium was Lalu Prasad Yadav.

He made a brief appearance at the Old Clubhouse stand and when his face was flashed on the giant screen as he made his way in, there was a wild roar. Though not close to the cricketers in terms of popularity, Yadav remains a star. Yadav was in the clubhouse for some time, watching the cricket.

Security beefed up

The news of the bomb blasts in UP had an impact on the security at the Kotla, with sniffer dogs called in. The cops, though, said it was a routine matter. "It's just a routine," said DCP Ishwar Singh. "We do checks thrice."