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Team India in siege mode

cricket Updated: Jun 07, 2009 02:58 IST
Arjun Sen
Arjun Sen
Hindustan Times
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Rain has been lashing Nottingham all night long. Chilly winds have accompanied the rain, and suddenly, the sunny skies that greeted us in London look like an exception rather than the rule.

As you make your way down from the train station to the wonderfully named Maid Marian Way and further towards your hotel, the first sight that strikes you is a group of people waiting outside an Indian restaurant called Curry.

“There're here to see the Indian team, aren't they,” my cab driver Leon offers his unsolicited help in solving the mystery. “They've been here ever since the players reached Nottingham.”

It seems that seeing an Indian player in the flesh is the thing to do around these parts. And come hell or high water, all is forgotten once a star is framed.

Everything, however, has not been going to plan. The recent fallout of reports of a rift within the team has meant that the team has almost completely confined itself to their hotel. The gag order against talking to the media that was placed ahead of the tour was reiterated at the last team meeting by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Gary Kirsten.

The players have been asked to 'stay away' from answering questions, irrespective of how innocuous they might be, and have been advised to 'stay in or just around the hotel, unless imperative'.

“We have been asked to concentrate on the cricket,” said a player. “They (sections of the media) had no business accusing us of being divided, and it is better that we don't say anything else.”

For the fans, this has come as a rude shock. “The last time the team was here - in 2007 - they were all so friendly, the would hang around in the City Centre, shopping, having a quick bite, this time, they hardly seem to come out of the hotel,” said Anjali, a 23-year-old who wants to click 'just one' photograph with Dhoni. With rain casting a dark shadow over the game, Anjali and her mates could well have to wait longer before they see their heroes.