The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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The night the skipper wore black Blades and bails with dinner plates
- On the lawns, at the round tables and cricket kit under the hammer

It was billed to be the big nite, when a Calypso king would dine with an Indian Nawab, Marxist mandarins would mingle with all the Maharaja’s men, Sachin’s bat would be up for grabs with Sourav’s blade, child rights would take the stage with cricketers’ cause… Some of this did happen on Halloween night at Hyatt Regency, but minus much of the ‘star’ appeal and the anticipated excitement.

First brush with the stars was on the lawns, where the fans had a field day, shaking hands, rubbing shoulders and striking a pose with their heroes. Here are some images that stood out.

3Chubby cheeks: “He’s chhho chhweet!” was the buzz around Parthiv Patel. Every woman wanted to pinch his cheeks, a few even tried to get within striking distance, but the shy little keeper had cleverly closeted himself in a corner. Those younger than the 17-year-old, however, were welcome to grab an autograph or a photo-op

3Stylebhai: Virender Sehwag was all smiles, in a bright pink shirt — and bat in hand. The opener could carry on any conversation with ease, leaning on the willow

3Man in Black: Sourav Ganguly showed up in black pants and a shocking, shiny, body-hugging T-shirt, accompanied by wife Dona, in a black sari. Thankfully, the skipper didn’t take long to don a black jumper. Aloof, but courteous

3The elegant one: Rahul Dravid carried off the bright yellow shirt like only he could and he did the disappearing trick as often as only he can. Mr Dependable kept a low but unmissable profile

3The cool one: Spectacles on his nose, Nawab Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi was a picture of poise in the face of camera clamour. Hope today’s stars took some tips on style from Tiger

3THE SACHIN SHOW: In casual grey-and-red, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar was, obviously, the centre of maximum attention. Was all smiles for the fans — and Dona

3The most missed: Of all those who were expected to be there but were not — from Jyotibabu to Sunny — Sir Vivian Richards’ absence was surely felt the most

The scene then shifted to the ballroom, where the auction of Indian cricket memorabilia — put together by Dravid and Kumble — was anchored by Barry O’ Brien, dinner was devoured by all and the media was shut out…

3WHO SAT WHERE: A lot of pre-event hype centred around which table the big boys would take. Sachin ended up with the TVS X; Sourav with Hyatt; Dravid with Sanjeev Goenka; Srinath with Ambuja Cement; Kumble with Samsung… And Pataudi was with Dalmiya…

3to start with: Subrata ‘Sahara’ Roy, predictably, set the ball rolling with a straight drive of Rs 21 lakh for the Indian Cricket Players’ Association

3GOING, GOING… First, an autographed pair of Sachin's century-making gloves went for Rs 2.5 lakh to Raj Singh Dungarpur. Then, a bat signed by the Indian team. Hawked by Ravi Shastri, the bidding hit a high — Rs 6 lakh from Harish Thavani of Nimbus. This brought the Indian XI on stage

3Dinner gong: No soup was in sight, so back it was to the lawns for the buffet spread. Grab a plate, stand in queue, pick and choose, but be quick

3back to biz: With dinner plates, to bid for an autographed collection of photographs of Kumble's perfect 10 (wickets) against Pakistan. Sold for Rs 2.5 lakh to Harsh Neotia

3The bat battle: The final showdown saw Sachin's autographed blade going for Rs 4 lakh to Britannia, while Sourav's, on home turf, fetched Rs 5 lakh from Neotia. The perfect photo-op with the ‘darling’ duo

The ICPA collection box had a nice jingle to it by the end of the night and the star-struck got what they wanted. But the last word was, well — yawn.

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