WC 2003 - Vajpayee likely to visit SA to cheer Indian team: Report
Published: Wednesday, March 5, 2003, 2:02 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
Indians take a well-earned break from cricket
New Delhi: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is likely to fly to South Africa to cheer the national team if it reaches the World Cup final, the Times of India website said Tuesday.It quoted government sources as saying that Vajpayee wished to go to Johannesburg on March 23, provided India was playing. "Vajpayee will be there, the Prime Minister's office has already been informed about the necessary changes in his programme," the website quoted a senior official as saying.Thousands of fans from cricket-crazy India have assembled in South Africa for the World Cup and their numbers have swelled with the national team notching victories over all opponents except Australia.After the Indian team beat arch-rivals Pakistan on Saturday, it was flooded with congratulatory messages and received calls from deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani and Army Chief General Nirmal Vij.The Indian team has qualified for the Super Sixes stage which precedes the semi-finals and the final. The Indian Prime Minister has played no small role in boosting the national side's morale in the tournament.When angry fans back home burnt effigies of players and targeted their homes after a walloping from Australia, Vajpayee appealed for calm and asked them to take the loss in their stride.Media reports said Vajpayee along with his family members had tuned into television to watch India's cricket match with Pakistan.