Dhoni, Irfan take joyride over Guwahati | india | Hindustan Times
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Dhoni, Irfan take joyride over Guwahati

They made the most of the situation when a chopper had to be engaged to dry the rain-soaked field.

india Updated: Apr 09, 2006 14:29 IST

Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Irfan Pathan made the best of the situation when a chopper had to be engaged to dry the rain-soaked field: they took a joyride for an aerial view of Guwahati.

The outfield at the Nehru Stadium, the venue of the fifth one-day match between India and England, was soggy and slippery and the sky was overcast after heavy overnight rains and a drizzle on early Sunday.

The crowd was getting impatient and so were the players as well as officials of the Assam Cricket Association (ACA) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

A helicopter landed on the ground, surprising the crowd. For 45 minutes, until 10.45 am, it flew just a few inches above the ground in a bid to dry it up -- with the two rising stars of Indian cricket on board.

"I have seen helicopters being used in other Indian venues before for drying up the field," Javagal Srinath, former Indian pacer and now a commentator for Doordarshan said.

Mopping over, Dhoni and Pathan refused to get down and insisted on being given a joyride. The pilot complied and the chopper whizzed past the stadium and flew over the city before the duo was offloaded in the middle of the ground.

The Northeastern Council (NEC), the apex development agency in the region that owned the helicopter, charged the ACA Rs 90,000.

No play, still having fun

Though the rainy conditions delayed the start of the play, the nearly 15,000 spectators were not prepared to leave the ground. Vendors did brisk business selling Indian flags and banners with catchy slogans.

"We are having fun," a fan said. "We are praying the match starts soon."

Tennis balls will do

The crowd went into ruptures when Virender Sehwag, the stand-in India captain, came to the ground with Harbhajan Singh for warming up -- with tennis balls.

England captain Andrew Flintoff made a brief appearance -- to inspect the ground, and the crowd cheered him with claps and shouts.

Autograph please!

Indian players resting in their dressing room obliged fans who sought their autographs. Indian Army officers too queued up along with youngsters to get an autograph from their favourite cricketers.