Will it be an Indian summer?

M. S. Dhoni is miffed at reports of a rift between him and a senior Indian batsman. At a routine press conference ahead of India’s opener against Bangladesh, the skipper walks in with the entire team and the support staff, and then reads out a statement saying his team is united. Over to S. Dinakar.

The train passes through farms and over rivers and creeks on its way to Nottingham from London. Through the large glass windows, the quaint English countryside is captivating. It is a pleasant journey.

Meanwhile, the ICC World Twenty20 Express is set to race through the English cricketing landscape. The mega event is only hours away.

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News trickles in about Andrew Symonds breaching his team’s alcohol-related rules yet again. The Australian powerhouse is to be sent home by the team-management. It’s a sad story; one with strong messages.

The Indian team is camping at Nottingham. The defending champion is in a relatively easy group with Bangladesh and Ireland being the other teams.

Nottingham is a charming, overgrown town with a distinct character. Close to the hotel I stay in lies the famous Nottingham castle. Outside the giant wall of the edifice is the statue of a bearded man taking aim with his bow. Welcome to the legend of Robin Hood.

It was in these parts that the immortal medieval outlaw took on his foe, the Sheriff of Nottingham. Robin Hood robbed the rich and the mighty to feed the poor, and tales of his stirring battles have not been clouded by the mists of time.

Not far away from Nottingham is the Sherwood Forest, the home of Robin Hood and his band of brave warriors. The man is still a big draw in Nottingham. There are souvenir shops dedicated to Robin Hood. Everyone wants a slice of history.

Twenty20 cricket does not have much of a history though. It is a creature of the modern times. In the only World Cup before the present edition, India, against all odds, had triumphed in South Africa two years ago. That victory by Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men turned the game on its head. Cricket entered the age of player auctions, celebrity team owners and fat contracts. The profile of an old sport underwent a drastic change.

Dhoni and his men are the favourites in the second edition. Can the side handle the pressure of expectations?

A routine press conference ahead of India’s opener against Bangladesh turns rather sensational when Dhoni walks in with the entire team and the support staff. The skipper then reads out a statement that stresses unity in the side and talks about “irresponsible media.” The Indian captain is miffed at reports, in sections of the press, about a rift between him and senior batsman Virender Sehwag. The media is left stunned. Dhoni had made his point in a unique, unprecedented manner.

Later in the day, England is shocked by Holland at Lord’s. This could be a tournament of surprises.

All roads lead to Trent Bridge where India meets Bangladesh the next day. A swirling mass of Indian supporters — some of them with their faces painted in tri-colour — are excited at the prospect of seeing their heroes in action.

Trent Bridge — a fine blend of the old and the new — presents a striking picture. The stands are modern but the elegant pavilion of many seasons is left untouched.

Dhoni’s men produce a vibrant performance even as hundreds of Indian flags flutter in the stands. The fans leave with happy faces even as the Indian team celebrates.

Meanwhile, the Australians, ambushed by the West Indies, are in Nottingham. Brett Lee is his friendly self, talks about the big game against Sri Lanka.

It is also raining in Nottingham and the weather is becoming increasingly cold. This does not deter a Punjabi band from belting out racy numbers in the city square that Sunday afternoon. The sound of the dholak rings in the air. A passionate crowd braves the inclement weather.

Will it be an Indian summer in Old Blighty?