Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

New Zealand is not only famous for its beautiful landscapes, the country has also stringent customs regulations.

An old video from the 2002-03 Indian cricket team’s tour to New Zealand has resurfaced over social media platforms.

In the video, the then skipper of the Indian team Sourav Ganguly and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh found themselves in an awkward situation at the Auckland airport. Both the cricketers were fined $400 for carrying dirty shoes. It was a violation of New Zealand’s biosecurity measures.

In the old video, youngster Parthiv Patel and reliable Rahul Dravid were seen passing through custom officers. However, Ganguly and Harbhajan had a sticky situation. The Enforcement Officer alleged that Harbhajan failed to account for all his cricket shoes, leading to suspicions. Some boots were allegedly found to have mud and grass, posing a potential threat to New Zealand’s environment.

Bhajji (as Harbhajan is populraly known) was found visibly displeased. The off-spinner expressed frustration during the inspection. However, the Indian team manager intervened and paid $200 fine on Harbhajan’s behalf. Moreover, Dada (Ganguly) also received a $200 fine. It was also covered by the team management. It caused embarrassment for the Indian cricket team at that time.

Notably, New Zealand takes biosecurity seriously, aiming to protect its unique flora and fauna from foreign diseases and pests.