The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Khyber date for Indians
- The trip was worth it: Chappell

Peshawar: Inviting the iconic Jahangir Khan (one of the all-time great sportspersons of the last century) to the dressing room in Karachi was a Greg Chappell-encouraged move to depart from the routine.

On Saturday afternoon, Team India did something different as well ' a trip to the history-oozing Khyber Pass after clearance from Islamabad. It’s out of bounds for foreigners unless the interior ministry gives its okay.

“Being so close (one-and-half hours away), it was too good an opportunity to miss... I saw it as a nice break between the Tests and the one-day series... Moreover, the boys who’ve been in Pakistan for a month needed something different... If the same things keep getting repeated, one feels the same way, too," Chappell told The Telegraph.

The five-match ODI series begins here on Monday.

Back at the hotel, Chappell added: “The trip was worth it... We must have spent close to three hours there...” Besides “fascinating memories,” as Judith Chappell put it, the visitors returned with a smart souvenir from the Khyber Rifles ' the traditional Chitrali topi with the Rifles’ insignia.

The ones to miss out were manager Raj Singh Dungarpur, who arrived (from Karachi) after the team had left, and the ODI specialists ' Murali Kartik, Mohammed Kaif, Suresh Raina and S. Sreesanth ' who also came later.

Having been delayed on Friday night, they had a transit halt in Lahore before flying to Islamabad and, then, driving over. Late in the afternoon, the quartet went for nets at the Arbab Niazi Stadium.

The Team India workout (which preceded the visit to the Khyber Pass), by the way, was light. “We’ve played a lot of tough cricket in recent weeks and, so, the session wasn’t that intense... Tomorrow’s nets will be different,” informed Chappell.

Harbhajan Singh has an inflammation on his right index finger, but is expected to be fine for ODI No.1. According to Chappell, it was “purely as a precaution” that he was rested from bowling. The offie can’t recall what has caused the inflammation.

Meanwhile, having led UP to its maiden Ranji title, Kaif is on Cloud Nine. “It’s a terrific feeling... We’ve come up through the Ranji Trophy and lifting it was simply an out of this world feeling... Bahut hi achcha laga...”

Kaif led from the front (64 in each innings of the semi-final against Mumbai; 92 and 109 in the final versus Bengal) and that, he believes, is going to hold him in good stead during the ODIs.

“It’s always nice to get runs and I was able to shake off a bit of rustiness... Obviously, I’m high on confidence and, hopefully, will keep that form when the ODIs get underway,” he said, smiling.

For now, Kaif has much to smile about. Incidentally, UP has three representatives in the ODI squad ' Rudra Pratap Singh, Raina and the captain himself.

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