It’s amazing to be in London, the city of dreams, the city of heritage, the city of diverse cultures and the once proud headquarters of cricket. But the biggest reason to smile being here is a welcome escape from the sweltering heat of Karachi. A drastic cut from 38 to 22c gives me enough reason to go strolling the streets. Even the sun seems to be enjoying the weather for a change, setting in as late as 9pm.
Needless to say people here are wonderfully charming and always willing to help and that too with a pleasant smile. Returning to the city after over a decade, a lot has changed and made it almost impossible to navigate around. But thanks to the Londoners’ guidance I was able to find my way around relatively easily.
The tantalizing taste of English breakfast is legendary and I couldn’t help but treat myself with it even on the first morning. A corner breakfast outlet stuffed me for 5 pounds, enough to keep me energized for the day.
Back at the stadium, the usual fanfare was missing. It’s a total contrast from matches in the sub-continent where huge contingents of armed personals, barbed wires and frantic fans searching for tickets in now a habitual sight. Hosting a high profile event, it was surprising to experience almost nonexistent passion for cricket in London. I suppose football has toppled the national sport by uncatchable distance.
Pakistan team involved themselves in an intense practice session spanning over 3 hours in the morning. It was interesting to see what more giving a good batting knock to the tail enders, speaks volumes of the trust he has on his batsmen.
I simply love Saeed Ajmal, not just because of his finger magic, but for his full of life character. No star attitude in him, the guy would himself walk to you, greet you and throw a joke that would leave you bursting with laughter. Never wanting to be out of touch, his first query was about the toss result between India and South Africa.
Misbah came in for the Press conference looking calm and full of confidence, reminding me of Imran Khan’s famous words that the opponent captains’ body language would give him a fair idea about the mode in their camp. Didn’t reveal much about his match plans, but assured us that the team is fully focused and rearing to lock arms with the Windies.
The West-Indians arrived for practice in the second half. I had last seen the mighty Chris Gayle doing the gumgam dance at the T-20 finals, and he seemed to have brought the same mood to London. Couldn’t recognize what he was singing but still enjoyed his energy. With no signs of Ajmal scare on his mind; his only regret was not being able to visit the London Eye the previous night while living close to it.
The match starts at 2:30 PST and 10:30 local time. Hopefully there would be a sizable crowd filling the seats. Teams must be relaxing and massaging in their hotels, it’s time for me to step out and find a nice desi restaurant for some heavenly tandoori food.