Like everybody else, Mumbai cricketers have been shaken by the 26/11 terror strikes. It was on that Wednesday night when the team led by Wasim Jaffer returned from Rajkot after a Ranji Trophy game. Little did they know that the city was under siege till they reached home and switched on their television sets.
Former captain and senior batsman Amol Muzumdar had a narrow escape. The car he was travelling in was about 200 yards from the spot where the taxi exploded. Vice-captain Ajit Agarkar lives within a stone’s throw from the Oberoi Trident. “It is scary to hear gun shots and blasts,” he said.
The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) will have some security men at the Bandra-Kurla Complex for the game against Hyderabad starting on Tuesday. “We will have police at the ground,” said Hemant Waingankar, joint-secretary of the MCA. “We had women’s cricket there and cops were around that time too. We will provide the best possible security arrangement.”
As the players try to focus on cricket — the team had nets on Sunday — let’s hear what some of them have to say about the experience.
Amol Muzumdar: That night, my dad came to pick me from the airport. We crossed a signal and advanced about 200 yards when we heard a big sound. The car shook and I thought something was wrong. My initial thought was that some aircraft had come crashing down. It was only after I came home and switched on the TV that we knew something had happened in south Mumbai. I was shocked and stayed awake till 3.30 am. I could not sleep. The next day, I told my wife that we would not step out of the house. We were helpless. My heart goes out to all those who suffered. It has left a big scar on our hearts. But the frame of mind of cricketers is to go out and play good cricket.
Ajit Agarkar: It has been very difficult, the last couple of days. I live in Cuffe Parade and can see Oberoi Trident right across from my house. To be hearing the gunshots and blasts... you never expect. It was quite scary. The last three days have been unbelievable. It is still hard to believe. Thankfully, the match got postponed. Once you step on to the ground, you should be okay. What has happened is something that cannot easily be forgotten but you have to concentrate on the job at hand.
Ramesh Powar: We were all pretty close to the spot where the taxi exploded. I left early and had crossed the spot. Thursday and Friday were scary. None of us could take in what happened. I don’t think the fear factor will creep in when we play. We all have seen this before, the riots, explosions, floods etc. Now the mental frame is such that you move on and play cricket.
Wasim Jaffer: Whatever happened was very unfortunate. So many people have lost their lives. We will have to overcome this and keep moving in life. The scar that has been left will remain but we have to be alert and ready to face such situations.
Rohit Sharma: Whatever happened was very sad. But as a professional cricketer, I don’t want to put pressure on myself by thinking about the tragic events. The world moves on. Every game is very important for me. I don’t want to take any game lightly because of the stiff competition we have.