Been there, seen that
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Been there, seen that

HT reporters recall the moments they could never forget last year.

cricket Updated: Apr 11, 2009 01:02 IST
Hindustan Times

IT IS amazing that after a quick jog through memory for the first IPL experience, a whirlwind tour with about 16 flights in 45 days crisscrossing eight cities and covering 16 matches, cricket ends up just as a footnote.

“What do they know about cricket…” CLR James said about the gentleman’s game. I am tempted to second him after the IPL.

Having grown up watching English Premier League and cheering Manchester United, I had always wanted a similar club team in cricket where Sachin Tendulkar could open batting with Sanath Jayasuriya. It was always a far-fetched idea until Mumbai Indians brought them together.

“But you will be following Chennai Super Kings,” they told me.

Stars in plane

Surprisingly, more than cricket, it is usually the airports and hotels that come to mind when I think of IPL. Travelling with cricketers was a new experience.

Cricketers are one thing on the field but put them in a plane and they behave like schoolchildren do when their teacher is 10 minutes late for the class. Most of them chatter noisily. Muralitharan is the cheekiest and keeps cracking jokes. But Makhaya Ntini is in a different league. Ntini is notorious. He doesn’t miss a chance to flirt with airhostesses. But he gets irritated when people don’t get his name correct.

“Its N-tini, not Nitni,” he told a kid.

“Okay, Nitni,” kid replied.

“Its N-N-N-N-tini.”

“N-N-N-N itni.”

The South African gave up.

Captain’s head, mind it

The baby boy must have been about 10-months-old. He looked quite like the tots of his age do with nothing unique about him. His baldpate was yet to show signs of hair and his chubby cheeks were good enough to invite kisses of adoration.

Seated in his mother’s lap on the right column of the plane to Delhi, the baby found it quite amusing to tap the head of the person seated in front of him.

The owner of the head was MS Dhoni and it is hard to say it would have made any difference to baby’s amusement had he known this fact.

The Chennai captain turned back swiftly perhaps a trifle irritated. But a gentle smile broke out on his face when he saw the baby. He took the infant in his arms and playfully rubbed his baldhead.

Dhoni played with the baby for some time and when the mother requested him to pose with her son for a picture, he obliged and even suggested a place where he thought the light could be better. Most of the Chennai Super Kings players then took turns to pamper the baby.

They had a big match the next day. But IPL was never about only cricket anyway.

First Published: Apr 11, 2009 01:01 IST