Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dining With Pakistan and Australia

This post is best read while viewing these pictures.

Dubai Sports City hosted a Gala Dinner tonight at the Grand Hyatt in Dubai, in honor of the Pakistan and Australia cricket teams and to celebrate the opening of the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

I was there ofcourse on the prowl with my camera in tow.

The Aussies arrived bang on time at 7:45pm, which was a surprise considering the traffic in Dubai and that they are staying at a hotel an hour away from Grand Hyatt.

The Pakistanis, who are staying at the Grand Hyatt, were 20 minutes late.

As the Aussies walked in, they waited at the lobby area for someone to guide them. Shane Watson was busy texting, probably Warne, while Brett Lee stood by him staring into open space.

Soon they were taken away to some secret room, where they were kept for a good hour. I found that strange because during that hour, the Pakistanis arrived and were mingling away with the crowd inside the ballroom.

I managed to get myself clicked with almost all of them - Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, Shoaib Malik, Misbah, Umar Gul, Fawad Alam, Salman Butt, Ahmed Shehzad were all kind enough to oblige.

I really wanted one with Younis Khan but I couldn't find anyone who would take the picture and I didn't want to ask one of the cricketers.

Misbah was there with his wife and little kid, who roamed around for most of the evening with Ahmed Shehzad. The kid of the team taking care of the Vice Captain's kid.

Afridi joked around with Umar Gul and Fawad Alam, while Rao Iftikhar and Saeed Ajmal found themselves a quiet corner.

Shoaib Akhtar and Shoaib Malik bonded with Chris Cairns who was there with his lady friend - maybe his wife.

Younis Khan hung around with Kamran Akmal, Salman Butt, Ahmed Shehzad, and Yasir Arafat; and when Shoaib got bored of Cairns, he joined them too.

I also caught Kamran Akmal having a very animated phone conversation in a corner. Wonder what that was about.

While I was getting a picture taken with the Pakistani openers, Salman Butt made a dig at my height - "taudi height wekh ke to lagta ke agle opener tussi hoge!"

It was quite funny the way he said it in Punjabi. Translated it means, "your height suggests you would be the next opener". I surely would not mind!

I bumped into Chris Cairns later and reminded him of over 10 years ago when he had toured Sharjah and had really long hair. I confessed that it was me who had shouted, "get a haircut", from the crowd. He obviously did not remember but I haven't forgotten the smug look he gave as he turned his back from third man to see who it was.

Cairns smiled as I narrated him the story. Soon after, a man standing behing me said, "and you used to hit the longest sixes".

Cairns response was quick, "don't tell Afridi that", to which the man insisted, "yours were longer!". Cairns changed the subject and spoke of a Pathan - "but that man Younis Pathan hits them real long!".

I corrected him, "Yusuf Pathan". Cairns called him a beast!

As I walked away, the Australians finally entered the ballroom.

I caught a quick word with Shane Watson - "Rajasthan are looking forward to seeing you in South Africia". Watson had the biggest smile that I have ever seen as he said, "that's not too far now". That smile suggested that he couldn't wait to join Shane Warne.

Brett Lee was the last to walk in and I asked him if he was playing this Thursday, to which he replied, "I'm trying to". Not sure what that means.

I couldn't manage any pictures with the Aussies as they were soon hogged by the huge crowd. The Pakistanis had been there for an hour so it was easy to find time with them.

Watson, Lee, and Symonds were the major attractions for the Australians. Even the Pakistanis.

The Australian ambassador was also there with his wife and the couple spent their entire evening with Brett Lee.

The strangest thing about the evening was that the Pakistani and Australian players did not mingle at all. That was quite bizzare.

The entertainment was alright - a few circus acts and a couple of bollywood numbers by this Indian dance group, which Afridi and Shoaib really enjoyed. Don't think the Australians had any idea what that was all about. Maybe Lee did.

Dinner was great and as soon as it was served, the teams made a quick exit, while the people got busy eating.

Like before I got a quick peak at the Australian team bus, but thankfully I didn't scare anyone this time.

Make your pitch on this post...

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20 Pitched:

  1. Anonymous said...

    hehe... nice

  2. Som said...

    Q's day in the sun continues1 Nice going man. And do give Butt's suggestion a good thought:)

  3. obaid said...

    Fit! GOod job Q,I like how Well Pitched is going the tabloid route :) MAybe you are the next Fake media person :)

  4. Amy said...

    You lucky man.

  5. Q said...

    Thank Anon.

  6. Q said...

    Som: I do open for my club but didn't want to upset Butt by telling him that I could maybe one day replace him ;-)

  7. Q said...

    Haha.. Obaid - nothing like a Tabloid + News combo!

  8. Q said...

    I feel the same way Amy!

  9. Rayden said...

    Looks like you had a great time out there. My only meet with a cricketer was when Sachin Tendulkar ended up celebrating his birthday party at the same place where my friend had organized her bday celebrations. This was a few years back of course but the funny thing was a reporter took a photograph of Sachin and I was standing behind him and the photo appeared in a small local newspaper. Since then I tell everyone I was invited to Sachin's party.

  10. obaid said...

    Q, these dinners have a history of being venues for match fixing deals ala Salim Malik. Remember that series in the ninties when he hit 2 double centuries?

    Do you think that could have ha anything to do with the separation between players - different rooms, not talking to each other? Orders from management?

  11. SledgeHammer said...

    Great stuff Q!!! Must have been loads of fun!

  12. Anonymous said...

    Sounds like you had a great time, Q. That was a good read.

  13. Indophile said...

    what was Cairns doing there ..I thought he was coaching an IPL teamand Rameez is back to IPL please ask him to stay away from the disaster zone i.e IPL commentary team. They can almost suck out the fun out of super exciting games

  14. Q said...

    Rayden: it was awesome. Working at Dubai Sports City for the last 3 weeks has allowed me to interact with a lot of cricketers and ex cricketers. Its been fun. I've met some others here and there...

    Like ur Sachin story.. I hope u have the pic framed and astuck on ur wall somewhere.

  15. Q said...

    Obaid: there weren't separate rooms.. there was a "secret room" where the Aussies relaxed while the Pakistanis mingled with the crowd.. then when the entertainment began the players were all seated on tables next to each other.. there was every chance to interact with each other but both the teams did not mingle with each other.. so im not sure why exactly but they weren't kept apart..

    ICC's anti corruption chief, Col. Nur was there so im sure the players were kept in check :-)

  16. Q said...

    Sledge - fun it was!

  17. Q said...

    VM: glad u liked it. My entire stint at Dubai Sports City has been awesome!

  18. Q said...

    Indophile: Rameez left for the IPL after the 5th ODI between Pak and Aus.. while Chris Cairns came here for the 5th ODI and the 20-20 - he's a part of the commentary team.

    Cairns is not coaching any IPL team.. he was a part of the ICL before getting kicked out..

  19. Leela said...


    Loved this post! Wanted to comment earlier but for some reason kept forgetting.
    Great quote from Cairns about Yusuf Pathan!

  20. Q said...

    Thanks Leela :-)

    That conversation with cairns was hilarious.. he kept insisting that he didnt hit the biggest sixes!

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