Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman standing in a queue to order a cup of latte? Seems unlikely, doesn't it? In India, you can well picture the barista turning into a waiter and taking their orders to save them the trouble of standing in line. At Canberra's nondescript airport terminal, however, even India's batting legends had to do things in the way ordinary folks are more accustomed to as they waited to board Qantas Flight 763 to Melbourne.
Zaheer Khan and Virat Kohli soon joined India's batting greats in the queue.
"Laxman kuch khilaega kya (Laxman will you order something for me)," asked Zaheer. "Of course," replied the ever-smiling Laxman who soon obliged.
Off-spinner R Ashwin and wife Preethi were seen enjoying a quite meal, like quite a few love-locked couples. While some indulged in breakfast and coffee, others were fulfilling more scholarly needs. Rahul Dravid was in the airport bookstore’s biographies section. Skipper MS Dhoni and his wife Sakshi were enjoying a pleasant conversation in the seats next to the boarding gate.
While boarding the flight the cricketers queued up again, as the majority of the Australians on flight went about their business, not sure what to make of the men in BCCI tracksuits and white polo tees. “I think they’re the cricket team,” said one elderly lady. To which her companion replied, “Oh, must be here for Boxing Day.”
On the short 40-minute flight, which was delayed by 15 minutes, the cricketers looked relaxed even in economy class. Virender Sehwag and Zaheer, who were seated next to the emergency exit, listened with a smile when the air hostess gave the statutory exit briefing. Kohli was told to keep his chair upright while take-off and landing, after he’d reclined the chair to a more comfortable position on both occasions.
Bowling coach Eric Simons won the respect of a few women as he chivalrously helped load and unload their hand baggage in the overhead compartments.
While disembarking, Dhoni signed a few autographs for fans at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport before heading to pick up his checked-in baggage. When asked if his baggage was ever misplaced, Dhoni smiled said, “I hope not, Qantas’ reputation isn’t as bad as British Airways.”
It may be recalled that BA misplaced the Men in Blue’s luggage and the trophy after they had won the Futures Cup in 2007.