Afridi's men overwhelmed by fans on board
The captain of the flight S2 0238, from Delhi to Chandigarh, on Friday must have had a hard time executing the take-off.
The captain of the flight S2 0238, from Delhi to Chandigarh, on Friday must have had a hard time executing the take-off. For, the passengers kept sending texts and calling their dear ones till the last moment, which must have interfered with the flight's communication system.
But then, the passengers had good reason to behave in such a frenzied manner -- they had the Pakistan cricket team for company. It came as a pleasant surprise to the passengers when they saw Shahid Afridi & Co board their plane at Terminal 3 of the New Delhi airport.
"Listen, I am now travelling with the Pakistani cricketers! Afridi is seated just three rows ahead of me," one voice was heard speaking over the phone. Besides Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar and Misbah-ul-Haq were the other major attractions. Soon the excitement began to flow over.
"Hey Afridi! Hey Shoaib," came the greetings. And the players responded with a wave of the hand and a smile.
This is the Pakistan team's first visit to India since the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai and that one-hour journey must have reassured the neighbours that they could relax here. And relax they did, patiently signing autographs and posing for pictures throughout the journey.
Shoaib however seemed less affected by the entire buzz. The 'Rawalpindi Express', who is set to retire after the World Cup, remained calm and quiet. Pakistan last played three Tests and five ODIs in India in 2007-08.
"It's good to be back here," team manager and former Test player Intikhab Alam told MiD DAY.
Incidentally, Mohali, the venue of the mouth-watering semi-final, is familiar to Alam, who coached the Punjab Ranji team for two years. "I always loved to play here in India. There is no doubt about that. It's like home," said Alam.
Coach Waqar Younis shared his feelings too. "It's different and good to be here after four years, especially Chandigarh. We are happy to be here," said Waqar. However, once the flight landed in Chandigarh, and as they stepped out of the aircraft, the fans' hero worship suddenly gave way to patriotism, with someone from the crowd yelling: "Chak de, India!"