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India Put Rivalries Aside Ahead Of Opener Against Afghanistan

Team India team might have flown over the proverbial Seven Seas to arrive in beautiful St. Lucia; it might have been trapped in a hazy, sleep-induced world in the clouds too, for well over 24
PTI May 01, 2010 9:48 IST
PTI
Team India team might have flown over the proverbial Seven Seas to arrive in beautiful St. Lucia; it might have been trapped in a hazy, sleep-induced world in the clouds too, for well over 24 hours, to complete its journey across the globe.  

All that is, however, nothing: it has to travel a much, much larger distance now; the distance that has crept within the team itself as the IPL battle intensified inexorably, both on and off the field, reports Times of India.  

After all, the players were at each other's throat till just a few days ago; in fact, they looked like bitter foes, if not sworn enemies, before they united again as Team India.  

Luckily, nobody was slapped publicly; luckily, no tears of shame were shed either. Importantly, the underlying animosity between two players - two competitors really - didn't spill out of television sets either.  

So the ugly truth behind the so-called glory of sport shall continue to remain a hidden secret.  

But how will the Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings forget their final clash last Sunday? Can Zaheer Khan and Suresh Raina banish the angry glares that were exchanged as they switch into their avatars as Men in Blue? Can MS Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh break the silent tension that erupted between them in the heat of the moment?  

Well, they are all professionals, highly paid ones at that: they are expected to fight against each other, or spar as one, as per the colour of their outfits. They have to rise above the last battles too and be prepared to start a new one, a totally different one, as this is the World Cup.  

Especially, as the team will be carrying the additional baggage of memory here: it failed to get into the semifinals of the last T20 World Cup; worse, in the 50-over World Cup here too, it couldn't even get past the first stage. The players now need to show that they are worth all the money in their banks.  

The format, thankfully, has been made to ensure that the likes of India are not thrown out at the start itself; more comfortingly, they will start their campaign against Afghanistan on Friday. These war-torn men might feel like strangers here; indeed, they might even wonder if they belong when they finally step into the spotlight.  

But India have faced the ignominy of losing to Bangladesh on a similar stage; they know that T20 gives even the outsiders more than an outside chance. One blistering knock is enough to rattle up a total that can be beyond the reach of millionaires too. Captain Dhoni will be cautious, if not wary.  

He won't take chances and will unleash his arsenal of big-hitters, right from Vijay to Raina to Yuvraj to Yusuf straight away. Gambhir and Dhoni will play the role of mentors, even if it is not a favourable word right now. The wicket is expected to be slow, bringing Harbhajan and Jadeja into play. Zaheer and Nehra should take care of new-ball duties.  

The X-factor, however, is the early morning start; the short bursts of showers that St Lucia is currently experiencing can also complicate lives. India would just be hoping that they won't be caught on a wet wicket, or a slippery turf; otherwise, they will be embarking on one of their longest, and most painful, journeys possible.