It was wonderful to hold Indian flag, says Indian skipper

Published: Monday, February 10, 2003, 2:19 [IST]
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Cape Town: The visiting Indian team had a mixed night at the opening ceremony of the World Cup, a sense of jubilation and excitement tempered by long wait and little food. "It was an exciting moment, the one which would stay with us for a long time," said manager Jyoti Bajpai, who was quick to add "but there were also disappointments on the way."

The Indian team couldn't watch most of the opening ceremony as it was made to wait inside a hall for its turn to go into the middle - which arrived with just half an hour left for the completion of the event. There was also no food to be had during or after the ceremony at Newlands. The disappointments though were more than made up by the sheer excitement of being present at a stage when the world was watching. "It was wonderful to hold Indian flag in front of the world audience," said captain Saurav Ganguly. "It was a proud moment for me."

His deputy Rahul Dravid shared the elation of his captain and said it was a unique moment for him as well to share it with cricketers and teams from across the globe. "It was a unique moment for me to be at a stage when all the teams and the players were together in front of the crowd and millions watching it on television." Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, who was every bit excited at the Opening Ceremony, said it reminded him of the Commonwealth Games of 1998 in Kuala Lumpur where he took part with the Indian team. "I enjoyed every bit of it.

I was reminded of Commonwealth Games. You can't compare the two though as every event as its own flavour. But it was a great feeling and we all clicked a lot of photos as souvenirs." Leg spinner Anil Kumble relished the ceremony but felt an event like Commonwealth Games is a bigger stage. "It felt nice to attend the opening ceremony but Commonwealth Games is a bigger event as there are more teams," he said. "Still it was a special moment for all of us." Indian coach John Wright, mindful of his team's poor performance in recent times, hoped the inauguration would have acted as a spur for his wards to do well in the matches ahead.

"I think the boys enjoyed it because it gives them an idea actually what is the world stage. "The opportunity and stake to enjoy here is enormous. Hopefully they take the inspiration of representing the biggest country in the biggest tournament -- that's a great opportunity." Javagal Srinath and Yuvraj Singh, at the two spectrum of their careers, didn't want to miss out any action in the middle and clicked through their shutterbugs merrily.

"I was too busy clicking photos- not only for myself but for everyone else. I clicked everyone's photo - for a moment I was transformed as a photographer," said Srinath. "I was every bit excited. It was a wonderful feeling to be on a world stage. I clicked a lot of photos but my videocam didn't work," added Yuvraj Singh. Parthiv Patel, the youngest member of the team, said there was so much happening in the stadium that he always felt he was missing out on something. "I've never experienced such a feeling on a cricket field. I kept my eyes open and tried to soak in everything. It was such a big field, you were looking at the galleries and thinking you could be missing something behind." Ajit Agarkar, looking his normal intense self, enjoyed the moment but felt it must have looked better on television. "It looked good but must have appeared better on television.

We couldn't watch most of it because we were in a hall, along with other teams, but it was good." Ashish Nehra and Sanjay Bangar, two young members of the side, were similarly elated and felt it was a moment to cherish. "It wasn't as if I was nervous or looking forward to watching the opening ceremony," said Bangar. "But once on the field it was a great feeling- even if we were there for a short while, it felt great." Nehra said "We just clicked a whole lot of pictures. I was very excited about it all. It was such an important moment for all of us."

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