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Swashbuckling innings, again

He's warm, friendly and suave. Meet former Indian cricket captain, Kapil Dev, who is starting a new innings...

LOOKING ABSOLUTELY fit, his warm and down-to-earth attitude charmed everybody around. And naturally, he was mobbed wherever he went.

"Kapil Dev is an icon in this country", says Shantonu Aditya, a senior executive at Sony Entertainment Television. True. For when one talks about some of the greatest moments in Indian cricket, one immediately recalls the 1983 World Cup and Kapil's smashing knock of 175 not out against Zimbabwe, which turned the fortunes of Kapil's Devils. And of course that superb catch he took to get Vivian Richards out... the turning point of the World Cup finals! Remind the dashing cricketer about that and he says, "I remember Madan Lal saying, `Nobody remembers that I bowled that ball'!"

So what was the former Indian captain doing in Chennai? Well, he's taken on "more responsibilities, more challenges". He's been chosen Brand Ambassador for Max and Sony Entertainment Television's The World Cup Network. That's because Sony Max has got the telecast rights for the World Cup 2003. And as part of the promos, the `Haryana Hurricane' is touring the metros, mainly to meet cable operators.

A picture of patience, he answered questions from the mediapersons at the Le Meredien recently, in his inimitable style, of course!

What do you like about Chennai? "The food and the girls!" Are you happy today? "I am always happy. I live for the present." Which is your greatest cricketing moment? "Playing for 20 years for your country is the greatest thing. What more can one ask for?" What did you like doing most on the field? "Fielding. I really enjoyed that."

When asked about the dearth of all-rounders of late in the Indian team, he replied, "What about Tendulkar or Dravid? You see, it's a tough job... to bat, bowl and field.' When reminded that the Indian team once had some great cricketers and people missed those kind of players now, he laughed, "I miss them too!"

Do you watch cricket these days? "Only off and on. But now with this new job, I hope to watch more cricket."

If you ever got the chance to take over the fortunes of the game in the country, what three things would you like to implement? Pauses for a moment, "If that ever happens, there is only one thing that I would like to do, not three. And that is to encourage the sport at the school level. That's where the talent lies. We have to shape future players from that stage."

What do you have to say about Srinath's recent decision to retire? "You see, I cannot comment on that. He knows what's best for him."

The suave Kapil, who has now turned all his energies to golf, enjoys "doing business." Which is what he plans to do with Sony. "I will help in concepts, and look at the business side of things."

Besides golf, does anything else interest him? "See, I cannot do 100 things at the same time! Let me take one thing at a time!"

Sachmuch, Kapil da jawab nahin!

SAVITHA GAUTAM

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