Bhubaneswar: As the pulsating match-eve gives way to a dawn of delicious possibilities, it is tempting to think what must have gone through Harendra Singh's head as he tossed and turned in the privacy of his hotel room, long after lights went out at the Kalinga Stadium. The coach of the national team rests on quicksand these days, and with a home World Cup to deal with, sleep might well be his unlikeliest companion.
After weeks of practice and months of hype, the showtime has arrived on the wings of pressure and expectation. All those hours clocked in the gym, all the tough selection calls, all the knowledge stacked in the muscle memory have come to define this singular moment, and to think that Harendra's brain would have courted calm amid the milieu is to anoint him to superhuman levels.
He walked in the press room jovial and jaunty. Jokes were exchanged with familiar faces and greetings were extended with earthy warmth. Manpreet Singh, on whose shoulders lie the task of controlling the team – and the game – stood in cheerful seclusion. The contrast in coach and captain's demeanours though ends right there. Both would know that team's recent form is far from top-notch, and lack of experience might prove costly. Nevertheless, both did rather well to present a brave face.
Harmanpreet Singh (left) and Manpreet Singh will play a key role in India's campaign as hosts play South Africa on Wednesday. AFP
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