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Players arrive amidst tight security, chaotic crowd

Security measures, crowd mood and other preparations...Anam Arsalan talks about all as Pakistan team arrive in the Capital on Thursday.

cricket Updated: Nov 01, 2007 23:21 IST
Anam Arsalan

"I took an off especially for this," said Mohsin, doctor at a little-known Mohan Hospital in Yamuna Vihar. All along he was standing on a luggage trolley in order to catch a glimpse of the Pakistan cricketers at the arrival terminal of the IGI Airport here.

That was all he could do, for the 300 plus crowd and the massive security blanket thrown around the team had made it impossible for him to get any closer.

Senior Commandant in the CISF, Udayan Banerjee, said, "We had as many as 20-25 personnel on duty there."

Besides the CISF, the presence of scores of Delhi Police and airport security personnel only added to the number of uniformed men around, not to mention the plain-clothed personnel who mingled with the crowd to provide an even bigger security cover.

But unlike most uniformed men on duty, a customs official was readily available for help. The bits of information he gave came in handy.

The flight, PK 270, landed on time at 4:10 pm but to the chagrin of the people gathered there, the players were nowhere to be seen.

It was later known that customs officials seeking autographs mobbed the players, which caused the delay. Some players went shopping at the duty free shops, while the more religious ones got busy with their namaz.

Meanwhile at the terminal, crowd swelled and the tempers soared. At one end were newspaper shutterbugs seen arguing with the policemen and at other were their counterparts in news channels yelling at them to push off.

Not far from this commotion were a few Pakistan supporters sporting green-coloured baseball caps with "Go Pakistan" emblazoned on them. Said Ashfaq, a Pakistan supporter, "We are from the Pakistan Embassy; we are here to cheer our team."

"There are about 20 of us here," said another Pak supporter holding a Pakistan flag.

There was a flutter the moment the friendly customs officer said that the team would be exiting from a different gate.

Soon, quite a few reporters and photographers made mad rush up the stairs to the arrival terminal. But here too, the team was nowhere to be seen. The friendly officer soothed their nerves by saying that the players were taking refreshments in the lounge and that they would exit via the same terminal downstairs.

A little more wait and the green jackets finally appeared. Among those to emerge first were skipper Shoaib Malik, Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Gul. Then Shoaib Akhtar made a grand appearance and all hell broke loose. The Pakistan team gladly obliged fans with autographs and then boarded the bus to the team hotel.