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'Special' stars dazzle on field

It wasn't a wedding party, but an actual sporting event, that was causing all the commotion around the clubs of Marine Drive, reports Tushar Abhichandani.

india Updated: Nov 07, 2006 01:47 IST

For a change, it wasn't a wedding party, but an actual sporting event, that was causing all the commotion around the clubs of Marine Drive. And at the centre of it all was the Police Gymkhana, the venue for the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics International Cricket Cup.

This is the first time that the Special Olympics is holding an international event of this magnitude in the city, but it seems that the organisers did their homework, as by bringing together a mix of Bollywood and cricket stars to kick off the event, they certainly caught everyone's eye.

Especially, curious passers-by and an army of fans who looked on as the likes of Wasim Akram, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Jadeja, Rahul Bose and Diana Hayden mingled with the special athletes before the start of the event.

Soon it was time for the athletes to take centre stage, with a parade and oath taking ceremony, which was presided over by Diana Hayden. It was at this point that the true excitement of those athletes taking part came to the fore, each one of them waving and smiling at the crowd, proud to be clad in their country's colours.

And just as the parade ended, a grand symphony played in the background signalling the start of the final torch run, as the flame passed on from the special athletes to Rahul Bose, the final torchbearer, who lit the flame to loud cheers. The tournament was officially declared open.

By the time the opening ceremony ended, a sizeable crowd had gathered to watch the exhibition match between Akshay Kumar and Wasim Akram's teams that was to follow.

And contrary to what one might expect, it wasn't the bowling of Wasim Akram or the batting of Akshay Kumar that was met with the biggest ovation, but the sheer grit determination and spirit with which the special athletes played their heart out.

The rules of the game are not different to normal game except reduced number of overs. In all 12 teams are taking part in the event. Matches will be held at Wankhede Stadium and the Cross Maidan.

Email tushar.abhichandani@hindustantimes.com

First Published: Nov 07, 2006 01:47 IST