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India chill out, Pak face the heat

Five days ago in Lahore, it was an anxious, apprehensive Indian team that was ushered into the official hotel.

india Updated: Mar 16, 2004 14:19 IST

Five days ago in Lahore, it was an anxious, apprehensive Indian team that was ushered into the official hotel here. But now, with the Karachi win and the initial security jitters behind them, they are far more relaxed as they prepare to take on Pakistan in the second one-day international here.

The players haven't been cooped up in their hotel rooms. From the start, they have been hitting the gym, playing table tennis, swimming or lazing around.

On Sunday evening, it was a relaxed Rahul Dravid who walked into the hotel restaurant. He and Murali Kartik have been to Taxila and back (with commandos in tow, of course). "You must go, it's well worth a visit," he said.

Dravid might lead in Tuesday's day-night game. At the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Monday, he said Sourav Ganguly was down with fever and might not play. Ganguly has been fighting flu ever since he landed in Pakistan.

That first evening (March 10) in Lahore, he dined alone in the hotel restaurant as he wanted to “eat fast and get some sleep”. “Most of the boys are planning to try the tandoori restaurant and that would take time,” he had said then. “I’m feeling under the weather.”

On Sunday evening, though, he looked at ease. As did Kartik, Parthiv Patel and coach John Wright, going through the buffet. Mohammad Kaif too was relaxed. “It’s great to have the mobile not ringing constantly,” he said.

The players seem at peace, for the moment.

Yuvraj walked out with Shoaib Akhtar, saying he was going to Shoaib's home for dinner. Laxman, whose fitness will be "assessed" just before the match on Tuesday, had already eaten with team videographer Ramakrishnan.

Irfan Pathan was around, chatting with locals. Asked about his hair, he said he was growing it. "Short hair is too conservative," he smiled. The youngster will have to lift his game considerably on Tuesday when he comes in for Ashish Nehra, hit by an ankle injury again.

The loss of Nehra, after his sensational last over in Karachi, may be a huge advantage for Pakistani batsmen, who watched their A team smack Pathan all over the place in a warm-up game on March 11.

Wright, in a happy mood on Sunday chatting about his guitar, would be more worried after Monday's fitness update. But he will be happy that the Indian cricketers can now concentrate on cricket.

This, after all, is Pakistan where they are faces, as familiar and apparently, as loved as Pakistan's own cricketers.

It’s on DD too

DD: Announces telecast is on

Supreme Court: Earlier, directs Ten Sports to share the live feed of Rawalpindi match with DD

Ten Sports: Says it might not, since Dubai based Taj TV, which has contract with PCB, may refuse signal

DD: Refuses free signal for low density cable areas; says will pay $15 million for telecast everywhere

SC: Tells DD to use Ten Sports logo, deposit Rs 10 crore

First Published: Mar 16, 2004 00:27 IST