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Cricket stars disappoint hard core supporters

Thousands of cricket supporters including relatives of Irfan Pathan were on Saturday left disappointed as the Indian team, which arrived after its historic tour of Pakistan.
PTI | By Press Trust of India, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON APR 18, 2004 12:14 AM IST

Thousands of cricket supporters including relatives of pace sensation Irfan Pathan were on Saturday left disappointed as the Indian team, which arrived after its historic tour of Pakistan, pulled a disappearing act leaving them in the lurch.

Having waited for hours in 40 degree Celsius heat outside the Indira Gandhi International Airport terminal here to catch a glimpse of their heroes, the fans, many of them girls and children, were left crestfallen when they came to learn that the team had been whisked away from a side entrance.

"I just wanted an autograph of Rahul Dravid for which I have endured this pushing and shoving for hours, but now the policemen tell that he has left with his teammates," said schoolgirl Shruti, almost on the verge of tears.

Just a few minutes ago, she was dancing to Bhangra beats, along with hundreds more, in anticipation of seeing her favourite cricketers in flesh.

Police personnel posted at the exit said the team had been taken out through a separate entrance for security reasons.

"Does that mean that the Indian team is secure in Pakistan and not in India in front of their fans," said Anil, who was waiting with several garlands in his hand.

Some persons claiming to be paceman Irfan Pathan's relatives and some German fans of the Indian cricket team also had to face disappointment.

Riaz Ali from Jodhpur in Rajasthan, who claimed to be Pathan's first cousin, said he had come to Delhi along with eight relatives yesterday after coming to know that the team was arriving on Saturday.

"I had met Irfan before he left for Lahore and wanted to see him again," Ali said as he prepared to leave disappointed.

Bjorn Amma, an architecture student from Kassel near Frankfurt who is on a holiday to India and Nepal for a month, said he wanted to click a few photographs of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.

"I developed an interest in the game in these few days as the Indo-Pak series was going on," he said with a shrug when he came to know that the team had left.

Looking at the fans still dancing to drumbeats, Amma's friend Torben Pfeiffer said "cricket fans here are as crazy for the game as football fans in my country."

Mingling among the fans were scores of BJP supporters and persons wearing T-shirts of team sponsor Sahara India and Cup sponsor Samsung.

The BJP supporters were apparently making an attempt to cash in on the Indian team's victory, carrying banners with photographs of Virendra Sehwag and Labour Minister Sahib Singh Verma.

Verma is contesting the coming Lok Sabha polls from Outer Delhi constituency, in which Sehwag's locality Najafgarh falls.

One of the banners even read: "Feel good ki wohi bahar, team lai cup uphar (In the wake of Feel good, the team has brought the Cup as a gift)."

Though the team did not come out to the waiting fans, Verma came up to the gate and waved to the assembled people.

For the fans at the airport, however, the headiness of victories in the one-day and Test series, seemed to have shortlived.

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