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Lost, lonely: Title may have made the difference

Cricket, they say, is a great leveller. On Tuesday one couldn?t agree more. Here was someone who not very long ago was hailed as a promising prospect from UP. But on Tuesday, he walked all alone. Laden with baggage, he went back to the Gomtinagar Hostel after hiring a taxi from the Amausi airport. He was no ordinary visitor to the city.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2006 01:24 IST

Cricket, they say, is a great leveller. On Tuesday one couldn’t agree more.

Here was someone who not very long ago was hailed as a promising prospect from UP. But on Tuesday, he walked all alone. Laden with baggage, he went back to the Gomtinagar Hostel after hiring a taxi from the Amausi airport.

He was no ordinary visitor to the city.

He was Ravi Kant Shukla, captain of the India under-19 World Cup team (that missed the trophy by a whisker) and hailed not very long ago as another potential claimant for a place in the Indian dressing room.

The neglect was shocking. But Shukla appeared unperturbed. “Don’t worry, I am used to carrying my baggage,” he said when this correspondent offered to help him.

The contrast couldn’t have been more striking had another UP talent, RP Singh, the Indian fast bowler, not landed in Lucknow from Pakistan barely 24 hours before Shukla. RP, member of the winning Indian squad from Pakistan, had arrived here to a hero’s welcome on Monday.

A minister in the Mulayam Singh government had sent his vehicle to the airport to receive RP, couple of luxury vehicles were also there for him. And there were scores of supporters, well wishers and admirers besides. Fine, RP was a member of winning squad in Pakistan. But Shukla’s team had also performed creditably reaching the finals of the U-19 World Cup against all odds.

Shukla did smile when he saw select newspersons waiting for him at the Gomtinagar Hostel. The smile however couldn’t cover his disappointment at missing the title and probably at the shoddy treatment meted out to him.

“Complacency,” he said when asked about the reasons for failing to win the final. “The boys probably thought that chasing 109 runs would be like taking a stroll. But that was not to be,” he added.

Shukla said, “It would have been nice to come back with the trophy.” He couldn’t have been more correct. Title might have made the difference in treatment.

First Published: Feb 22, 2006 01:24 IST