It was difficult to imagine Langham is the hotel where the India players are staying. Standing tall adjacent to the Herald Sun newspaper office, overlooking the River Yarra, it wore a deserted look.
The usual sight around team hotels is of fans, mainly people of Indian origin, crowding outside, patiently waiting for the cricketers to come out to get autographs and take selfies with them. Not so here, even after India returned to the city with a victory over Pakistan under their belt.
The usher at the entrance who boasts his whistle can stop a cab two blocks away, that too without having to use his thumb and index finger to produce the sound, was thus having a light day. No extra pressure on him to manage the portico.
But something like this must be a welcome change for the cricketers, especially the India players who are normally hounded everywhere they are spotted back home.
Tuesday again was a rest day for the team, and other than skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli, most others ventured out of the hotel to take a walk across the footbridge over the Yarra. Melbourne is where Shikhar Dhawan’s wife Ayesha Mukherjee hails from but the team management refused to divulge whether the India opener was allowed to stay away from the team hotel.
Across the river, beside the Flinders Street railway station is a long line of eateries, quite a few of them serving Indian and Bangladeshi food.
Away on tour for almost twoand-a-half months now, the easiest way to savour the flavours of home is to make a trip there and back.
Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja, both in round-necked Ts, denims and flip-flops, walked out in the afternoon for lunch and on the way back carried in some food for others.
Axar Patel stepped out sometime later. And by that time Ajinkya Rahane, coach Duncan Fletcher and manager Arshad Ayub had already returned.
Soon afterwards, Raina and Jadeja were spotted walking along the Yarra bank having ice cream. They walked down to the end of the station and then retraced their steps back to the hotel.
On the way, very few pedestrians recognised them. Some of them even asked who they were on seeing a couple of television camerapersons running alongside them all the way to the entrance of the team hotel. “Oh! Cricketers? Here for the World Cup?”
Swimming and gym were the only activities scheduled for the players, and according to team sources they spent much of the time catching up on sleep or in front of their gaming consoles.
The South African team that also landed here on Monday did not train. Morne Morkel had breakfast at a cafeteria with his partner while JP Duminy and AB de Villiers took pictures on the footbridge.
The South Africa skipper turned 31 on Tuesday.
After the sweltering conditions in Adelaide, Melbourne is much more pleasant. In fact, there is a nip in the air after sundown and Tuesday was overcast since early in the morning. India’s next match against South Africa is on Sunday and predictions about the weather have not really trickled into cricket discussions. But with
rains predicted throughout the week, it would be soon enough.