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Skipper in good form on domestic front

The reception, on landing at Brisbane early in the morning after an eight-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur, could not have been more frosty. My passport was inspected three times by stern officers, each wanting to know what brought me to Brissie, writes Amrit Mathur

india Updated: Dec 02, 2003 23:34 IST

The reception, on landing at Brisbane early in the morning after an eight-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur, could not have been more frosty. My passport was inspected three times by stern officers, each wanting to know what brought me to Brissie; sniffer dogs from the quarantine department checked bags, apparently searching for dirt, fruits and other foodstuff. The officers put Sehwag's bats (part of my luggage) through the X-ray machine, looking at them suspiciously.

Despite seeing red at this unfriendly treatment, I rolled the trolley through the green channel and, to my huge surprise, spotted a smiling Sourav Ganguly sipping chai in a café close to the exit.

Dressed in an Adidas blue shirt and a Sahara cap (both corporates sponsor him), the captain said he woke up at the crack of dawn to receive wife Donna, arriving on a 6 a.m. flight. You have to make this effort, said Sourav, the devoted husband, presenting the straightest of bats with “yeh karna padta hai”.

Two days before the Test, Indian team ko bhi bahut kuch karna padta hai. At the hotel, the players rushed through breakfast to sign bats for sponsors. Sehwag, Harbhajan and Sachin missed the coach and were ferried to the Gabba by Berry, the affable coordinator from Queensland cricket.

The bat signing was only one of many commitments for the Indians on a busy day. The boys attended an early lunch hosted by Cricket Australia (a sit-down affair with compulsory bhashans), then returned to the ground for practice.

At the nets, John's well-established routine was followed: some volleyball, some light catching/fielding and then, gentle hits for the batsmen. John (Wright), like Johar (Karan), works according to a time-tested formula - for him the plot remains the same, which means the boys must play volleyball.

It promotes group activity he says but others reject this as goli. Their verdict: we play volleyball for tashan.

The team is getting there, says John confidently, as players go through their routine, everybody is fit, ready for battle. The team has recovered from viral fever (even superman Gregory King was temporarily flattened) and Nehra is OK after a touch of food poisoning from eating prawns.

The day did not end for the Indians after practice. As part of Wright's plan to promote bonding between players, and his desire they spend quality time together, the boys headed for Ashoka, an Indian restaurant.

Post dinner, most players returned to the hotel to reflect on the tough series ahead. But some adventurous tigers thought of hitting the Gold Coast, about 90 minutes away.

First Published: Dec 02, 2003 23:27 IST