“I am a normal person off the field but on field, I am like a Royal Bengal tiger,” says Dale Steyn, South African speedster, when asked about his aggression on the field during a visit to the Pench Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra on Saturday. Eleven South African cricketers and their friends had a 15-minute sighting of T3, an eight-year-old tigress within 20 minutes of entering the forest in the morning.
With the third test between India and the visitors getting wrapped up within three days, the cricketers and their friends from both sides took advantage of the spare days to enjoy a ride in the tiger reserves around the city with most being lucky to get a glimpse of the big cat. Steyn, who was in the front jypsy, along with three others, was asked by Range Forest Officer Atul Deokar about his “aggression” on the field.
“He said that he is a normal person off the field, but becomes a Royal Bengal tiger when on the ground,” Deokar told The Indian Express. The visitors were accompanied by Pench Field Director Srinivas Reddy and Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (wildlife) Meyipokyim Aier. The visitors also included former captain Shaun Pollock, Morne Morkel, Dane Vilas, Simon Harmer and Kyle Abbot.
The South Africans were also lucky to get a fleeting glimpse of a leopard apart from nice sightings of the Indian Gaur, jackals, neel gai, sambar, and cheetahs. Being a keen wildlifer, Pollock made a lot of enquiries and seemed to know a lot about birds, said Deokar.
“Unhappy with the Nagpur pitch and having lost the match to the hosts, the visit to Pench was like a refresher for the visitors, which we could make out while interacting with them. They also praised the conservation work at the reserve,” Deokar said. And just as the visitors were excited after seeing the tiger, others tourists had twice the fun, as along with the tiger, they had an unexpected dekko at the South African cricketing stars.