Pakistan’s former captain Shahid Afiridi has said he is excited about the India-Pakistan match in the ICC Champion Trophy at Edgbaston.
“I am also excited about the game and look forward to a highly entertaining match between the two traditional rivals, who have a rich cricketing history between them,” he wrote in his column for the ICC.
The flamboyant all-rounder wrote about the relationship he had with Indian players.
“Contrary to popular belief, India and Pakistan players get along very well. Of course, there are exceptions like Gautam Gambhir, who dare I say isn’t the friendliest. We are unlikely to be found together at a coffee shop anytime soon. We had a heated exchange on the field some years ago and it made headlines all over the world. While I have moved on in life as I feel these things are part and parcel of the game, Gautam for some reason can’t get over it. Good luck to him!
Afridi also wrote about the Indian players with whom he enjoyed excellent relationships. He said Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh are his best mates and he had some wonderful memories together from the times when both the sides used to play and tour each other on regular basis.
“In the early days of our careers, we used to hang out together quite a lot and also spend time at each other’s homes. Now, all of us are married and, as such, responsibilities and the priority lists have changed. But whenever we catch-up, we meet with warmth and love, and remember our good times together.
I recall during one of India’s tours to Pakistan, I invited the entire India team to my Karachi house. We prepared special Pathan-style rich food, full of lamb and mutton dishes. When the food was served, there was a complete silence in the room and my Indian friends were looking at each other. At that point, I realised that my honourable and respectable guests don’t eat that type of food!
Quite a few of them were vegetarians, and so, we had to urgently replace the food with Daal (lentils) and vegetables dishes. It was quite embarrassing for me to not know about the dietary requirements of the guests since our similarity of culture made me take many things for granted. That was a funny memory of my ‘hospitality’ for the Indian team.”
The former captain said Virat Kohli is another player from the present lot whom he he admire and respect .
“He has a fantastic cricket bat in hand and an even a better heart in his supremely fit body. I will always remember him for the gesture he showed when he gave me an India cricket team signed shirt following our match in Kolkata in the ICC World Twenty20 2016. This shirt sits prominently in my collection and will always remind me of not only my matches and visits to India, but my excellent relationships with most, if not all India cricketers:”
Unfortunately, we don’t meet each other that often now due to the prevailing relations between the two countries. But I miss the good times with my Indian cricket friends and I am sure they feel likewise. Hopefully, the situation will improve soon so that the old friends can reunite to relive old memories.