When neighbours~~ pride becomes tales of envy

Published: Wednesday, June 9, 2004, 18:06 [IST]
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New Delhi:Reliving the drama and euphoria of India-Pakistan cricketing encounters from its inception in 1952 to the recent series, journalists from either side of the border have penned down their experiences of one of the sports greatest rivals.

Noted Pakistani writer and columnist Omar Kureishi leads an array of sports writers who have tried to bring to life the passion associated with the game when the two archrivals meet on the cricket field in the book "India Pakistan Cricketing Ties - Neighbours' Pride".

Splashed with pictures capturing the great moments of Indo-Pak cricket, the book aims to give cricket aficionados a first-hand account of not only the matches but interesting sidelights as well.

The book begins with the account of the March-April Test series, which saw India register their first-ever Test win on Pakistan soil in almost 50 years and then takes the readers on a roller-coaster ride with accounts of various series.

Kureishi talks about India's tour of Pakistan in 1955. "Every cricket tour has its moments. Even a tour in which every Test match is drawn. It was a dull and boring series sustained by a bogus sort of rivalry. Except the Test match at Lahore and the memory endures for its poignancy."

"I got on well with him though we crossed swords in the Delhi Test match which Pakistan was on the verge of losing and a triumphant Vizzy kept repeating that the match 'is in our pocket'. I was on the air at the moment when Pakistan was able to save the match and I said that 'obviously, there's a hole in Vizzy's pocket'."

Political Editor of NDTV Rajdeep Sardesai, son of former cricketer Dilip Sardesai, takes turn to write about icons across borders whom he discovered during the 1978-79 series - Zaheer Abbas, Bishen Singh Bedi, Javed Miandad and Kapil Dev.

"Zaheer was one of my original cricket heroes, a sorcerer with a cricket bat on the field, a gentle, smiling soul off it. Proof of how fickle form and adulation came only a year later when in 1979 Zaheer came to India.

The general expectation was that on the slow Indian wicket Zaheer would once again butcher the Indian bowling. In the end, a young man from the cricketing never-never land of Haryana made Zaheer look like a novice. Kapil Dev, with the thick moustache and even thicker smile, was ready to change the face of Indian cricket by giving it a fast bowling dimension."

Sports editor of Times of India Ayaz Memon recounts how India-Pakistan rivalry could take a "quirky twist" as well.

"The story is told of how a 'lady of pleasure' from Lahore floored a senior Indian player with her charms. So besotted was this player that he would wave his hand kerchief to her from the field, and even wanted to stay behind in Pakistan and marry her! The Indian management detected subterfuge in this seduction, and after days of pleading and cajoling, finally succeeded in making the senior pro see sense."

Besides the first-person accounts, statistics, match summary and highlights of all Test matches played between the rivals so far give a deep insight into Indo-Pak rivalry.

Interesting titbits on either columns also make for engrossed reading.

According to one such information, during a Test match in the 1979-80 series, a swarm of bees invaded the stadium and play was halted for several minutes when all the players and umpires had to throw themselves on the ground, face down with their hands over their ears.

A column in the book is devoted to superstitions of cricketers - Sachin Tendulkar always wears his left pad first, Indian captain Sourav Ganguly always carries a photograph of his guruji when he is playing and so on.The book is bound to be appreciated by hardcore cricket fans although it also makes good reading for the uninitiated.

The cover that has an Indian and Pakistani fan hugging each other symbolises the underlining spirit of the book - cricket can bridge the great divide between the two nations.

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