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Teams arrive to a warm welcome

Special Correspondent



A FEAST IN STORE: All roads will lead to the Chepauk on Saturday when the Men in Blue take on the West Indies in a day-night match. — Photo: V. Ganesan.

CHENNAI: The Indian and the West Indies cricket teams arrived here late on Thursday evening ahead of the third ODI of the Pepsi Cup.

Members of Team India were the first to attempt wending their way through pressmen, photographers, and reportedly Z-class security at the candle-lit, scrubbed marble lobby of a city hotel.

Barring a minor jam at the elevators where hangers-on did their darndest to get into the photographers' compositions, things were smooth.

In good spirits

The Rahul Dravid-led side appeared in good spirits: Ajit Agarkar was as polite as ever, Sreesanth found time for some banter and Robin Uthappa, tipped to open on Saturday, indulged a toddler.

Understandably, Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, and Sachin Tendulkar made the slowest progress from entrance to elevator.

Anil Kumble and Yuvraj Singh, who replaced R.P. Singh and Joginder Sharma respectively from the squad for the first two ODIs at Nagpur and Cuttack, arrived separately. Kumble had a stint at the refurbished Chidambaram Stadium earlier in the evening.

The arrival of the West Indies side was understandably more low-key. Chris Gayle, who captained the team in the second ODI, was left well alone, as was Shivnarine Chanderpaul. The hunching figure of manager Clive Lloyd, last seen in the city as a Match Referee more than a year ago, attracted attention, but the one who got the photographers back-pedalling furiously was Brian Lara.

In demand

Lara immediately set off for a function — one of many planned for cricketers from both the sides — and was followed by the waiting media.

"I'm am not unduly worried by the losses, both were close games," said Lara at the function. "I've had a chat with the boys. We're looking at the series as a chance to get things in place before the World Cup."

Lara added that he had had a long conversation with Sachin Tendulkar, who he refers to as his best friend in India, in the flight from Cuttack.

India leads the series 2-0 and has the opportunity to wrap up the four-match series in Saturday's day-night game at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium. Both sides are scheduled to practice on Friday.

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