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Fans-free, Dhoni and boys loving it

india Updated: Dec 24, 2011 01:00 IST
Rohit Bhaskar

It's not easy for Indian cricketers to go unnoticed, back home or abroad.

But at the start of the Australia tour in Canberra, the players enjoyed unforeseen levels of obscurity that for once they weren't complaining.

Just imagine, Sachin Tendulkar batting at the nets and cars passing by without giving him a second look. That's exactly what happened at the nets at the Manuka Oval.

Located outside the ground, the net session could be viewed by anyone passing on the parallel Canberra Avenue road. But last week, only three people turned up to watch Tendulkar practice as scores of cars whizzed past - oblivious to the presence of the man who carries a billion hopes every time he walks out to bat.

The unexpected freedom ensured our cricketers could do things they can't back home.

Take the example of R Ashwin, Team India's new spin sensation, who is also a newly wed. The 24-year-old was spotted with his wife, Preethi Narayanan, enjoying an evening walk at Furneaux Street in Manuka.

The pair easily passed off for another NRI couple. What followed next was something you'd never expect in India - a national team member going back to the team hotel in a taxi - impossible back home, but possible only in Canberra.

The gentleman that he is, Ashwin opened the door for his wife and then hopped in.

Though the fan-free life lasted for only a week, our cricketers ensured that they made the most of it before the unveiling of the Border-Gavaskar trophy at Melbourne's South Bank on Friday when thousands of fans turned up for a glimpse of their favourite heroes.

The Bradman Stand, which houses Team India's dressing room, was buzzing with activity as scores of NRIs lined up for autographs. And when MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli decided to sign them, they ensured all the requests were accommodated.