For those who were around Shoaib Akhtar on that fateful morning, the Pakistan superstar's emotional outburst would remain forever stamped on memory.
Soon after news of his fall from grace spread like wildfire, the speedster emerged from his room in a city hotel with eyes flaming like red-hot coals. And the tears followed.
Gone was the wail of a superstar who enjoyed a superbrat's image. The image was replaced by a man crying inconsolably and groping for a sympathetic shoulder to lean on. “He was distraught. Nothing was consoling him. His tears were unstoppable,” a police official incharge of the Pakistan team's security told HT.
Asif handled the catastrophe with a little more maturity. While Shoaib was shattered, Asif remained calm. “He was grim. But he did not utter a single word,” the official said.
According to eyewitness accounts, events unfolded fast as news of Shoaib and teammate Mohammed Asif's positive test hit the hotel.
The Pak team immediately hit the panic button and went into a huddle. A team meeting was convened at 10am to discuss the fall out. This was followed by a one-to-one between coach Bob Woolmer and Akhtar (and then Asif).
Woolmer himself looked shocked and surprised. “I have no idea what is going on. I am waiting for the situation to become clear,” a bewildered Woolmer told some scribes.
Soon it was decided that the dreaded pace duo had to be sent home. “The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had sent instructions that they should be put on the first flight back home,” sources said.
Since the first flight from Jaipur to Delhi was late in the evening, it was decided to put them on the road for the long journey home.
It was a lonely walk for the disgraced seamers. Sources said not one other player came down to see Shoaib and Asif off. "The final goodbyes were exchanged in coach Bob Woolmer's room. The two walked out into the lobby alone," sources said.
With the media guarding the main exit, the pacers were sneaked out of the backdoor of the hotel. They were packed into a green Innova with Rajasthan po lice sub-inspector Narendra Singh as their escort.