Faisalabad: As he usually takes in everything a tour has to offer, it’s unlikely Rahul Dravid would have missed the ‘Never Relax Till Job Is Done’ message on an overbridge on the lovely two-and-half hour drive from Lahore on the M2 and, then, the M3.
[While the speed limit is 120 kmph, most rocket at around 150 on the showpiece motorway.]
The Team India captain isn’t the sort to ease off after one outstanding innings (an unbeaten 128 at the Gaddafi), but he would still have been reminded of the agenda not just here, but in the third and final Test in Karachi as well.
Barring Sourav Ganguly, who arrived late on Wednesday after receiving Dona and Sana, the Indians checked into the Serena Hotel at about lunch. It was a day off for them as also the Pakistanis, who chose to leave Lahore in the afternoon and not at 10 am.
However, it wasn’t an off-day either for Pakistan Cricket Board chief curator Agha Zahid (who opened in one Test against the West Indies) or veteran groundsman Mohammed Bashir, who has nursed dozens of wickets in Sharjah, too.
With the Iqbal Stadium turf wet ' owing to rain on Monday and Tuesday ' and the wicket having considerable moisture, Zahid and Bashir couldn’t have been sipping tea indoors. Test No. 2 begins on Saturday and the forecast till then is for “cloudy weather.”
Confirmation came from Zahid, who delved into his coat and emerged with a communication from the Met. Bureau. “An already difficult task has become tougher... We can do our best, but can’t beat the weather,” he told The Telegraph rather philosophically.
Zahid has no choice but to bear what’s unfolding.
The square was covered when one went to the Stadium, but Bashir suggested the wicket was devoid of green grass. “The moisture content is high, which is why we’ve been using three electric driers... When everything is cold, wicket bhi waisa hi ho ga...” he added.
It’s not confirmed, but the conditions may encourage Dravid and coach Greg Chappell to play a third seamer ' possibly rookie Rudra Pratap Singh.
Meanwhile, national selector V.B. Chandrasekhar, Bhupinder Singh’s replacement, has landed. He came on the same New Delhi-Lahore flight as Sourav’s family and, then, hit the M2 and M3.