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'Resuming cricket is the best thing'

As the Mumbai and Hyderabad teams prepared for Tuesday's Ranji match at the Bandra Kurla complex, the first cricketing diversion from the horrors of last week, there was a sombre air: grey clouds gathered over the green outfield, the silence was amplified by the unfinished buildings that surround the stadium.

On the ground, though, the mood was markedly upbeat. "Mumbai's spirit is such that we always come back," Praveen Amre, Mumbai's coach, said. "The important thing is to focus on the present and for us it is to play the game. What has happened is really unfortunate and we cricketers feel the same as the common man. But one has to move on."

For Amol Muzumdar, who saw one of the attacks from up close, playing cricket was the best way to forget the pain. On Wednesday evening, Muzumdar was driving towards his house in the suburb of Vile Parle when he heard a loud blast about a couple of hundred metres away. "My dad and I looked at each other in horror. The car shook," Muzumdar recollected. He initially thought there had been an aircrash in the nearby international airport. It was only when he reached home and switched on the TV that he realised how lucky he was to be alive.

On Saturday the Mumbai team was back at practice. A cautious Muzumdar double-checked whether the practice session would be held before venturing out of his house. "It definitely moves me as a cricketer. It has left a big scar on my mind and my heart. You are shaken for about two days. Fortunately the game was posptoned."

And now, he feels, it's back at the right time. "When you enter the ground you tend to keep personal thoughts behind. Resuming [playing] cricket is the best thing for me."

Any doubts would have been dispelled by the sight of Sachin Tendulkar walking on to the ground, accompanied by a single bodyguard. He didn't speak today - "It's not the right time" - and may not play tomorrow but the mere sight of the most celebrated contemporary cricketer would have lifted any flagging spirits.

And so to tomorrow, where the match will be preceded by a minute's silence. The teams are up for it, so are the ground officials. The ground authorities have asked the local police station, as part of normal protocol for such a game, for an inspector and six constables. "They will be present here tomorrow. That is enough," MS Rao, the ground manager, said.