Cricketing legends honoured

The crowd roared ‘Sachin, Sachin’, reviving memories of old, as Tendulkar walked up to the stage. A smiling Tendulkar then said, "It’s good to see stalwarts from Pakistan. We welcome them here."

(From left) Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram, Imran Khan, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan.   -  K.R. Deepak

Greatness was very much in the air as cricketing icons from India and Pakistan were honoured by the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) at the Eden Gardens before the start of the contest here on Saturday.

Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, and Virender Sehwag from India and Pakistan’s Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, and Waqar Younis were felicitated by the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Present on the occasion was CAB President and former India captain Sourav Ganguly.

The crowd roared ‘Sachin, Sachin’, reviving memories of old, as Tendulkar walked up to the stage. A smiling Tendulkar then said, “It’s good to see stalwarts from Pakistan. We welcome them here.”

Tendulkar has been involved in some titanic duels with Pakistan. When Tendulkar made his Test debut against Pakistan at Karachi in 1989, Imran led Pakistan and Wasim and Waqar were part of a formidable pace trio.

Now they were all together, sharing the stage in a memorable setting.

The charismatic Imran, Pakistan’s greatest captain and a wonderful ambassador for the game, said, “I hope the result is the same as the last time I played here.”

Imran last played at the Eden Gardens in the MRF Nehru Cup final in 1989. Pakistan won a thriller against the West Indies by four wickets and a delivery to spare, with Imran scalping three and remaining unbeaten with a tournament-sealing 55.

In the afternoon, Imran, always an inspirational figure, spent time with the Pakistan team at the team hotel, giving the side a pep talk.

Interestingly, Waqar, his find, is now the coach of the Pakistan team.

Also honoured at the function was movie legend Amitabh Bachchan.

“May the better team win. May peace prevail between Pakistan and India,” he said.

To a rousing reception from the crowd, Amitabh and sufi singer Shafqat Amanat Ali rendered the Indian and Pakistani National Anthems respectively.