| Sachin Tendulkar opens the India Room at The Oval. Telegraph picture
London, June 21: Before yesterday’s high profile tsunami fundraising game at the Oval between an Asia XI and an International X1, the ground’s main sponsors, Brit Insurance, announced the firm would donate '250 for each run scored, '2,500 for each four and an astonishing '5,000 per sixer.
The Asian XI was studded with six top Indian names ' Rahul Dravid, who skippered the Asian team, Virender Sehwag, Mohammad Kaif, Irfan Pathan, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.
With the exception of Dravid, who top scored with 62 (seven fours), the other Indians disappointed the strong desi presence among the 20,000 spectators who packed the Oval, by treating Brit Insurance’s money as if it was their own.
Sehwag made 1, Kaif 3, Pathan 2, Harbhajan 1 and Kumble 1. Six Indians made less money than one Australian, who is not even a member of the current touring side ' Greg Blewett made 91 not out, including seven 4s and five 6s.
Thanks to efforts by non-Indians, Brit Insurance was able to donate '500,000. Taken with money from tickets (all public seats were sold), a total of '1.1 million was raised yesterday, said a spokesperson for Surrey County Cricket Club.
Most of the money will go towards building a tsunami village in Sri Lanka.
The first part of the afternoon was more satisfying for the Indian elite invited to witness Sachin Tendulkar officially open the '500,000-India Room in the presence of John Major, the former British Prime Minister and a past president of the Oval.
Sachin was incredibly polite and gracious.
“So how’s the arm'” he must have been asked a million times.
He reacted as though he was being asked this for the first time. It was still a bit painful but it was coming along, he would say each time. He gave his home address to The Telegraph, insisting with exquisite manners on writing it down himself in the reporter’s notebook proffered him ' left-handed.
He pulled a little toggle, revealed the plaque on a wall and made a short speech, pledging he and the rest of the cricketing fraternity would do everything in their power to help tsunami victims. “Such a short speech, so gracious, so simple,” murmured an Indian businessman.
Surrey’s chief executive, Paul Sheldon, said: “We are joined today by the greatest batsman of modern times, may be the greatest batsman that has graced the game.”
Sachin mouthed a silent “thank you” to Sheldon, who has completed a '25-million modernisation of the Oval on time and on budget.