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|June 16, 1999||
The vanquished return home
More baggage than players, as the vanquished returned home. That just about sums up the arrival of the Indian team (rather a fragment of it) from their disastrous World Cup campaign in England.
The Indian team, sans skipper Mohammad Azharuddin, his deputy Ajay Jadeja, coach Anshuman Gaekwad, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, arrived at around 3.45 IST at the Chatrapati Shivaji international airport, in Bombay, amidst tight security and a handful of diehard fans. And even as a horde of lensmen and television crew desperately tried to get close to the players, Indian team manager Brijesh Patel braved questions from the media.
Patel said the team played well, and had it not been for the points system, they would have made it to the final four. He felt that the bowling and the fielding needed to be worked upon, and the team had to be consistent. That, in his opinion, was the only problem with this side. Also, he felt the defeat to Zimbabwe was crucial in deciding the team's fate.
So where does Indian cricket go from here now?
Dismissing suggestions that the team needed a psychologist, Patel felt the team would learn from their shortcomings and improve upon it. He also emphasised the fact that Test players should take active part in the domestic circuit. He felt that the participation of Test players in the domestic circuit would help improve the standard of the game and also help unearth new talent.
But how could the Test players be expected to play in domestic games if you have 40-odd one-dayers being played in a calender year?
Did the hype, created before the World Cup, affect the team's performance, as stated by Ajit Wadekar?
As the six players, Saurav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Nayan Mongia, Javagal Srinath, S Ramesh and Debashish Mohanty, made their way past the thronging lensmen, their lugguage seemed to be the main cause of concern. Watching them load their bags into the bus, one got the impression that they had bought the entire Harrods while shopping in London.
There were not many fans around, except those who happened to be at the airport awaiting arrivals. There was a huge cheer for Debashish Mohanty as he got out of the bus to greet the fans, as also for Srinath.
It was learnt that skipper Mohammad Azharuddin and his wife had left for the United States. Sachin Tendulkar, Ajit Agarkar, Robin Singh, Rahul Dravid, Anshuman Gaekwad and the others decided to stay back in England to watch the final of the World Cup.
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