World Cup 2019: The Team India presser that never happened!

The scheduled press conference was cancelled after no players from India's World Cup squad turned up to address the media.

Indian cricketers during a practice session in Southampton on Monday.   -  AFP

If ever there was an anti-climax specific to a pre-match press-conference, this was it.

The build-up to India’s customary media-interaction at the Hampshire Bowl here on Monday afternoon, followed familiar tropes. An International Cricket Council (ICC) official spoke about keeping the phones on silent-mode, and also instructed that the microphone be held closer while raising questions.

The assembled correspondents, representing various dailies, agencies and websites from diverse parts of India, fidgeted on their chairs while the rain drilled on the roof. There was bonhomie and banter and it was time to wait. But none of the reporters was prescient enough to know that this was a lull before the storm.

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The Indian team’s media manager Moulin Parikh dropped in and informed that Deepak Chahar and Avesh Khan will arrive soon and field the queries. Immediately a sliver of voluble anger coursed through the sports scribes as the press-conference was an essential part of the lead-up towards India’s opening World Cup game against South Africa here on Wednesday.

It just didn’t make sense to have the two seamers, who were roped in as net bowlers to assist the Men in Blue, as the presiding deities. To rub it in, the duo was returning back home too. At best the two could have spoken about their experience during the training sessions but there was no way they could have dished out some perspective on an impending contest.

Senior cricket writers requested Parikh to consider bringing in a key cricketer or a member of the team-management, and he was also told that the rookie speedsters may tag along with the established player or coach. The media’s pressing need was however overlooked as no battle-hardened professional from among Virat Kohli’s men, was available.

The scheduled press conference was cancelled and a surprised ICC support-staff member quipped: “Well, that was quick. Short and sweet, eh?” The farcical turn of events could well have been avoided.

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