Fifty-odd anxious Indians waiting in the lobby of Taj Samudra got a glimpse of their favourite cricketers, including that of Sachin Tendulkar, on Friday afternoon.
Yet, there was a tinge of disappointment as the 13 members of the Indian squad zipped through the lobby.
The reason? Not because they could not see Wriddhiman Saha, who will join the squad on Saturday after finishing his responsibilities for India A team in England but due to absence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. “Dulheraja toh nahi hai,” one of the fans put it aptly.
The skipper, who got married in a hush-hush manner on Sunday, extended his departure by a day as he chose to attend a function organised by the Madras Cricket Club to award him an honorary membership.
Interestingly, Dhoni’s Test teammates, most of whom were “not even informed” about — leave alone invited for — his wedding by their skipper did not appear to be missing their captain cool. Though there was nothing to be disappointed about being ignored by their leader, some of them did find it “odd”. That will, however, be a minor concern for the Indian team going into the three-Test series against Sri Lanka.
Zaheer Khan’s absence due to a shoulder injury has weakened the pace attack to a great extent. Never before have Ishant Sharma and S Sreesanth, with a combined experience of 40 Test caps, spearheaded the Indian attack.
Moreover, both are likely to be rusty due to lack of match practice. Same will be the case in the batting department as Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman return to the ranks.
Both the veterans, along with Tendulkar, have not played a first-class game for almost five months. India’s spin troika also lacks the punch. Neither Amit Mishra nor Pragyan Ojha has sealed the slot vacated by the retired Anil Kumble, putting additional pressure on off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.
As Dhoni joins his teammates on Saturday, being the level-headed person he is, he will realise that the rosy days will have to be kept aside to overcome the thorny test that lies ahead.