They compete to come up with the quirkiest videos and photographs, and fight even more fiercely over games on the team’s official PlayStation 3. During training sessions, they take a welcome break over football.
Less than 24 hours ahead of the World T20 final against Sri Lanka, the Indian team is sticking to its routine and not letting the pressures of a big final and certainly the not-so-great news from home regarding the IPL fixing scandal weigh it down.
Says skipper M S Dhoni: “I leave (the pressure) at the stadium because that’s the best thing I can do.”
India are the only unbeaten side in the tournament, but these relaxation routines are a part of their day even when the going has been tough. Under the Duncan Fletcher-MSD partnership, the Indian team has adopted flexible work hours.
On non-match days, players can be seen fielding cameras and playstation joysticks. Divided into four groups, they try to come up with the quirkiest images. On gaming consoles, El Clasico and Manchester Derby are the favourites. At least three players have their own consoles, while others share the “official” PS3. A request has been put in for the latest version of the console.
“The Indian team played paintball during the Champions Trophy in England when the team was winning and also in New Zealand when the team was losing. This is a young side so both MS and Duncan don’t want them to stop enjoying the experience of being part of an Indian side because of a bad day on the field. They want to eliminate the fear of failure and one of the ways is to ensure that everyone cuts off from cricket during off-days,” a team source says.
The Dhaka stay has been made more enjoyable by comfort food. “Paneer pakoda is not on our menu but we added it on the demand of the Indian team. Our chef had to look it up in the cook book,” a manager at the team hotel says.
The skipper has been feasting on plates of mutton biryani, the manager adds.
R Ashwin says he enjoys the football breaks. “You keep playing cricket all your life, so playing soccer gives you leisure time. There is a really good atmosphere in the dressing room.”
It helps that Dhoni is a football junkie. During the early phase of the World T20, he stayed up well past midnight to watch Real Madrid play Barcelona.
Even on gaming consoles, FIFA and Need for Speed are the popular choices. And Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney the team’s favourite virtual selves.