A housefull Eden Gardens at last
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After a long time, Eden Gardens was packed to its capacity for the second ODI between India and Pakistan on Thursday. The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) took the opportunity to celebrate the silver jubilee of limited-overs cricket at this hallowed venue. Former India and Pakistan players were felicitated and were given a lap of honour around the ground on open-top jeeps. It was done during the innings break making the cheering fans ride on the nostalgia.
Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Ajit Wadekar, Bishan Bedi, Gundappa Viswanath, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Kris Srikkanth, Ravi Shastri, Navjot Sidhu and Sandeep Patil were from the Indian side who were felicitated. They were joined by Mushtaq Mohammad, Sadiq Mohammad, Intikhab Alam, Wasim Akram, Rameez Raja and Imtiaz Ahmed from Pakistan. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was the guest of honour, handed a plaque, a commemorative tie, a shawl and a cheque of Rs 1 lakh to each of the former cricketers. Gavaskar and Kapil did the lap together - the two legends stood hand in hand.
The biggest cheers were reserved for Laxman and Ganguly. The former had made this venue his second home since his epic 281 against Australia in 2001. Ganguly was the home boy, still a huge crowd-puller in this part of the world.
It was, however, surprising to see no travelling Pakistan fans accompanying their team. Actually, they have got their visas only for the last match of the series in Delhi. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had asked for 500 tickets for the fans from the CAB for the game. But the tickets reached late. "We got the tickets late. The fans had to attach the tickets to their visa applications but due to the delay they couldn't do it in time. We are in the process of mending ties. As things improve, these issues will be sorted out," said PCB chief Zaka Ashraf.