Playing professional cricket and representing a billion desires can often be a tiring job. As expected, the Indian players often indulge in banter and play pranks on each other to lighten the mood inside the dressing room.
Not every such incident is funny however. Passion and ambition often get the better of player’s emotions and the atmosphere inside the dressing room becomes heated up.Here are a few unknownstories from the Indian dressing room that are sure to make the reader smile, be intrigued, and get a peek into what goes on inside those hallowed chambers:
Indian fans have shown over the years that some of them can be crazy and passionate at times. But few of them are lucky enough to be able to meet their cricketing heroes. Except possibly one man.
Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary has over the years become one of the most known faces in the Indian crowd. The fan who does not hide his devotion for Tendulkar had a moment to cherish after India won the world cup in 2011.
When Gavaskar was selected to open the innings with Farookh Engineer for the Rest of the World against Australia back in 1971. Engineer being the senior batsman had a word of caution for Gavaskar.
“Don’t get out for a duck as the walk back to the pavilion is the longest you will ever experience here in Melbourne,” Engineer had cautioned Gavaskar. It was ironically Farokh Engineer who got dismissed in the first over and had to take the long walk back to the pavilion.
Gavaskar must have been laughing silently at the twist of fate but he did not show much emotion
After India’s disastrous campaign and the early exit from the 2007 world cup, the players were visibly nervous as reports of players’ residences being attacked were trickling in. Tendulkar had then asked Munaf Patel if he was scared.
But Munaf Patel had replied, “Paaji, jahan main rehta hoon, udhaar aat hazaar log hai aur aur aat hazaar log mere security hai!” (Where I stay, there are 8000 people and all of them are my security).
Munaf Patel’s words had reportedly rejuvenated the environment in the dressing room and all the players felt confident once again that they wanted to return to their country.
The entire Indian team was down in the dumps after Australia had set a target of 359 in the 2003 World Cup final. Ponting’s blitzkrieg had taken everyone by surprise and the team was ready to give up. It was then that Tendulkar gave a memorable speech that made everyone upbeat inside the dressing room.
“Can we look to hit a boundary every over? If we can so that makes it 200 runs of 50 balls and we would require the rest 160 from remaining 250 balls which does not seem so hard,” Tendulkar had said reportedly as later revealed by Harsha Bhogle. Unfortunately, Tendulkar had got out early and the Indians eventually fell well short of their target.
Angry fist pump, feisty attitude and a charged up mouthful after he completes his ton, these are the characteristics that have endeared the Indian Test captain to his fans. Many would like to believe that Kohli can be India’s next best captain. But there was a time when the angry young man of Indian cricket was just a new kid on the block in the Indian dressing room.
On his first day in the Indian dressing room, Virat Kohli was approached by some senior players and said it was customary for any debutant to touch the feet of Tendulkar. Kohli fell for it and went to offer his obeisance when Tendulkar told him that the others had played a prank on him.
MS Dhoni once revealed that during his early days, he was bullied inside the Indian dressing room by the senior players who referred to him as ‘Bihari’. Yuvraj was the chief prankster and told Dhoni that hitting boundaries was useless if he could not win matches for India.
When Dhoni started playing match-winning knocks, Yuvraj would tease him saying that Dhoni must perform at the Test level to prove his worth. Dhoni had reportedly lost his cool and asked Yuvraj why he was always so angry with him.
That proved to be a watershed moment – the two became the best of friends and shared some memorable, match-winning partnerships.
Bullying the juniors and indulging in harmless banter seems to be popular even inside the Indian dressing room. On the eve of Yuvraj Singh’s ODI debut in the ICC 2000 knockout tournament, Ganguly had scared Yuvraj by asking him to open the innings the next day.
“Open karega na?” (You will open the innings, won’t you?) Ganguly had asked Yuvraj. A flustered Yuvraj had agreed much against his wishes. As the story goes, he had even very reluctantly put on his pads to open the innings the next day only to discover that the skipper had been pulling his leg.
How Yuvraj reacted to Ganguly’s prank is not known but he surely must not have been very pleased about it.
Dilip Vengsarkar later revealed in a press conference that the notorious underworld don Dawood Ibrahim had visited the Indian dressing room once during an India-Pakistan match at Sharjah in 1986. Dawood had promised to gift cars to each of the Indian players if they defeated Pakistan in that match.
But Kapil Dev was extremely angry with his intrusion and asked Dawood to leave the dressing room. It must have taken the then Indian captain to have some guts to ask Dawood Ibrahim to leave the dressing room. Needless to say, all the other players were awe-struck at the defiance and courage displayed by Kapil Dev.
John Wright during his stint as an Indian coach always came across as a calm and dignified character. But there was a rare occasion when the otherwise nonplussed Wright lost his cool. During the 2002 NatWest Trophy, Sehwag was going through one of his bad patches and getting out cheaply.
Wright had reportedly told Dravid, “If that guy gets out to one more bad shot I’m going to really have a go at him.” Sehwag played a careless shot during that match and got out. When he came back to the dressing room, Wright grabbed Sehwag’s collar and gave him a piece of his mind. But Sehwag characteristically shrugged it off with a smile.
In an interview to Preity Zinta, Yuvraj revealed how the entire team had once played a prank on their captain Sourav Ganguly during Pakistan’s tour to India in early 2005. The plan masterminded by Harbhajan Singh saw the players come up with a fake news report that stated Ganguly had made some baseless allegations against his own players.
Armed with the report, the players confronted Ganguly and demanded to know what was going on. Ganguly swore that he had made no such statement and was even ready to give up his captaincy.
But as planned earlier, the players pretending to be hurt, got up and started leaving one by one. It was Rahul Dravid who then revealed to a flabbergasted Ganguly that it was an April Fools’ Day joke.
News credit : sportskeeda