India on Dhoni Standard Time
Ahmedabad: All of India's attention is focused on the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium, venue for the India-Australia quarterfinals. This stadium is on the banks of the river Sabarmati in the outskirts of Ahmedabad. It has been named after the late Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India's first Home Minister, also known as the Iron Man of India.
This stadium has been built on a 50-acre stretch of land and the team practice area is a long walk from the gates.
Vehicles are not permitted into the stadium as police had resorted to a lathi-charge on Monday to disperse the crowd that had gathered to buy tickets. Within half an hour all tickets were sold out and the angry fans went berserk breaking fences, forcing police to cane them. So one could easily sense the tension as thousands of fans were still seen waiting outside the stadium hoping against hope for tickets.
The International Cricket Council had announced that India will practise at 10am. My flight from Chennai landed at 10am, but I still decided to rush to the stadium hoping to see India practise and possibly get some cricketers to speak.
A big battalion of photographers, journalists and television crews were waiting under the burning sun near the practice area. The Indian team arrived only by 11.45am forcing the impatient scribes to comment: "Yes, India has arrived at Dhoni Standard Time." Everyone calls it DST.
Though all journalists requested Team India Manager Ranjib Biswal to permit at least one player to speak, he said: "We had a long discussion over whether an Indian player should address the media or not and then decided against it." It was a sad end for the over 150 media who had waited with expectations.
No wonder the Indian media tears apart the players when they do not perform. It must be sweet revenge for the long wait and snubs they have to endure regularly. This must also be the reason why so many speculative stories against Team India and its management are floating around.
Near the practice area, Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar were seen engaged in a long discussion and photographers and television camera panned on them. Tendulkar batted for nearly 40 minutes with coach Gary Kirsten throwing the ball at him without a break for nearly 30 minutes.
The Australian team arrived exactly at 2pm, their stipulated time, and right away made Michael Hussey available for his comments. At the entrance of the stadium is a huge hoarding saying: "We waited 28 years to hold the Cup, hope the wait ends now." Only time will tell!