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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014
These boys just wanna have fun
Somshuvra Laha, Hindustan Times
Kolkata, December 01, 2012
First Published: 23:28 IST(1/12/2012)
Last Updated: 23:30 IST(1/12/2012)

When a visiting cricket team is given the status of a head of state, it's difficult to get to within 22 yards of them. Bypassing the security blanket, despite the risks attached, though could give you a surprising insight.

Such as Kevin Pietersen evading a ball hit straight back at him, Matt Prior being flummoxed by hockey skills or Graeme Swann poring over a chessboard.

Mumbai's great English comeback has set up a thrilling Test series but on Saturday afternoon, KP and his men were happy letting down their guard and allowing a few lucky children stump them.

Not so lucky was the media though, kept away due to perceived security threat. But it seemed an opportunity too good to miss. So, after a few futile attempts at scaling walls 10-feet high, a vantage point on a crammed parapet of a neighbouring building seemed a safe enough perch.

The occasion was the inauguration of a cricket academy of a city school for underprivileged children. Alastair Cook, England captain, did the honours but it was Pietersen and Panesar who became instant hits.

That they spoke Hindi, or at least a smattering, helped.

Pietersen's Hindi tweets have been re-tweeted a thousand times by now but it was Madhsuden Singh Panesar's almost chaste Hindi that created an instant connect. "Bohut accha laga aaj," said Panesar while being whisked away to the team bus. He did some bowling but not much. Ditto Tim Bresnan. Conserving their best for the Eden?

Other sports
There was more than cricket on the menu. The English cricketers played rugby, chess and some hockey as well. "Not sure they play the same hockey rules here? Plenty of flying hockey sticks," tweeted Prior.

But it was the 'cool' KP who bonded best with the children. Spending the longest time at the school's concrete pitch, Pietersen first batted but finally settled to a bowling role where almost everyone made most of the dollies thrown by him. Pietersen too looked happy, knowing well that he won't do the bowling when it's India's time to bat.


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