Durban: If Saurav Ganguly's men thought they would escape thronging crowds and the pressure of expectations when they played in far-off South Africa, they were proved wrong by the number of supporters that flocked to welcome them on their arrival here. The newspapers here gave wide publicity to the grand welcome the Indian team received, and pictures of the players arriving at the airport were splashed across front pages.
Most radio and TV channels also covered Ganguly's press conference and his statement that all teams had a fair chance in next month's World Cup. At a function to welcome the Indian cricketers the Deputy mayor of Durban, Logie Naidoo, who is one among the 800,000 people of Indian origin living here, thanked them for choosing the city as their base for the initial stage of their World Cup campaign.
"Durban has a special connection with India," he said, adding he was sure the Indian team would feel at home in the city. Despite experts not counting India among the hot favourites to win the coveted trophy, the Indian Consul General here, Ajit Kumar felt that India was the favourite to win. "They are the hopes of more than a billion people," he said.
This is going to be a fantastic tour. We are delighted they are here." A section of the media, however, did not take kindly to the glum faces of the Indians as they disembarked from their flight, saying Harbhajan Singh was the only player who co-operated with fans.