Perth: Mahendra Singh Dhoni can crack a joke with a straight face even before one realizes it as one photo-journalist learnt it on the day. With the net-fencing very close to bench where Dhoni was padding up, the senior photographer said, "Mahi, you are not the same Mahi that you used to be in 2004-05. You used to give poses for such amazing compositions."
Dhoni said, "Ahh, don't lie. You didn't know me in 2004 at all and you are talking about posing for photographs." The photographer jogged his memory back and said, "What are you saying, I was there in Bangladesh during your debut series. I was very much there," and Dhoni confused him further.
"Who told you that I made my debut against Bangladesh. You don't even know," Dhoni said with a wry smile (he made his debut against Bangladesh in December 2004).
"Then was it Zimbabwe that you made your debut then," as everyone started laughing, Dhoni smiled back and playfully said, "Dekha isliye journalists ka koi bharosa nahin."
Dhawal Kulkarni, the support staff: If one crossed the Indian team's dressing room at the WACA Friday, one could see the mug-shots of the players and team officials pasted on the dressing room door as per ACSU's directive. Nothing wrong with that before one realises Dhawal Kulkarni's photo peeping out of the 18-member support staff team. In fact under Kulkarni's photograph, it's written 'Team Management' as ICC has allowed only 15 players to be registered and the Mumbai seamer has been kept as a stand-by as well as net bowler.
From the time Indian selectors Rajinder Singh Hans and Saba Karim arrived in Australia, questions have been asked in BCCI as well in the Indian team as to what exactly has been their role Down Under which ultimately led to their return before a coveted trip to New Zealand.
In fact save, February 13, when the Indian team practiced at the St Peter's College ground in Adelaide when Hans dropped in for a quick handshake with some of the players, the duo were never seen at all during a single training session in Melbourne and Perth subsequently.
"We heard that neither Saba nor Hans was attending any of the training sessions of the team whereas Sandeep Patil, Roger Binny and Vikram Rathour are watching the Ranji Trophy semi-finals. It was turning out to be a junket for the duo and they needed to be called back," a senior BCCI office-bearer told PTI. Hans and Karim are reportedly on their way back.