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Lahore Diary - Indian players on a rain interrupted day
« on: January 15, 2006, 11:30:38 PM »

http://cricket.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1373016.cms

Lahore diary: Leg-pulling reigns

BOBILLI VIJAY

TIMES NEWS NETWORK


LAHORE: The players indulged in all kinds of games even as light intermittent drizzles and bad light played hide and seek with them at the Gaddafi Stadium on Sunday.

They couldn't, however, play the one game that they themselves are paid for, and which attracts thousands of people to the grounds.

Their most popular game, when cricket comes to a standstill, is called leg-pulling. According to sources close to the team, most of the Indian players spent a lot of time on Sunday joking and pulling each other's legs. "The mood was nice and upbeat in the dressing room," the source said.

"There is no tension at all. In fact, a couple of players kept putting up mock fights (making light of the famous chat on the first day of the Test) to the delight of everybody watching. They kept warning each other to better watch it, pretending that things were getting out of hand. Even Rahul and Sourav couldn't help laugh," he revealed.

"The players were in a relaxed frame of mind and they just chilled out in their own ways. Some of them listened to music (which is their other most popular hobby) on their personal discs and ipods while some just hung around. Oh yes, all of them watched the One-day match between Australia and South Africa on television."

It was a fascinating match at Brisbane, of course. Australia seemed to be in big trouble after losing two early wickets and collapsing to 64-7. But from there, Mike Hussey rallied with the tail and carried the total to 228. "It was quite amazing. The players were quite in awe of Australia's fightback," he said.

The team, however, had enough reason to be in a good mood. After all the hard work on the first two days, where the Pakistani batsmen ran amok, there was immense pressure on the players. After all, it's never easy to bat, looking at a mammoth total; it gets worse, if there is lot of confusion over the opening slots too.

As things turned out, Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid withstood the Shoaib Akhtar onslaught nicely, and in fact, counter-attacked quite brilliantly. "Viru has this ability to lift the spirits of the boys. When he gets going everything looks so easy," the source said.

It's not that the players were locked up in the dressing room for most of the day. Some of them ventured out with a bat and ball in hand and did some healthy batting practice too. Dhoni tried his hand at some leg-spin while Jaffer attempted some fancy shots. Greg Chappell, however, was busy like always. He spent almost an hour with Gautam Gambhir, explaining the finer nuances of batting. He showed the importance of footwork, dancing forward and backward every two minutes as if he were facing a fast bowler, and the need for a steady head.

Later, once play was called off, the two teams promptly came out with their respective volleyball gear and played their hearts out. The Indian players sparking in their blue outfits laughed and hit the ball around, trying to win points by hook or crook. They divided themselves into two groups of eight each and almost everybody seemed to be thoroughly involved.

Dhoni, however, seemed to be the only player who knew a little bit about the game. He positioned himself near the net and took every opportunity to smash the ball. For those who are statistically inclined, Dravid and Sourav were in opposite sides and the former's team won quite easily. 
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