... and images from Pakistan
The Indian cricket team was extremely popular in Pakistan. S. DINAKAR captures some of those unforgettable moments.
The museum at Taxila ... a snap visit by Rahul Dravid and Murali Kartik.
WHETHER in the dusty lanes of Multan or during the ride from Lahore's Allama Iqbal Airport or besides the imposing Faisal Mosque at night, we can see them engaged in furious duels.
The young ones, often clad in kurta pyjama, often with a make-shift bat and a ball cobbled together, running in, attempting to put fright into the batsmen or trying to hit the sphere into the far away clouds.
Cricket in Pakistan is a lot about passion and raw talent, and from these labyrinth of galis and maidans have emerged luminous stars. Here, the game blends beautifully with folklore and tales of glory.
If an obscure Punjab town of Burewala could throw up as awesome a cricketer as Waqar Younis, or the rustic Multan could uncork an Inzamam-ul-Haq, then these facts bring to the fore, the very essence of cricket in Pakistan.
Pakistan, with a myriad of brilliantly carved minarets, bustling bazaars, decorated shops, gleaming giant-wheels at fairs, illuminated hotels and motels, buses and trucks with "over-the-top" dressing, three-wheelers resembling pieces of artwork, and dervishes clad in red performing before Sufi shrines, can be a rash of colours really.
And, though not always evident in the recently concluded series against India, Pakistan cricket can be very colourful affair too with wristy batsmen painting big, bold strokes on the canvas, and pacemen unleashing great balls of fire.
If you happen to be a scribe, then a Sarfraz Nawaz or an Abdul Qadir will make for a very colourful copy, though some of their words might not actually find their way into print.
For the Indian cricketers, scores of supporters, especially during the one day internationals, and the media, the affection and warmth of the Pakistanis were heartwarming. As the suave Shaharyar Khan, chairman, Pakistan Cricket Board, said, "Just goes to show how the people of the two countries look at each other, despite the political problems."
Huge crowds thronged the arenas for the ODIs, the Indian and the Pakistani fans sat in one enclosure, and there was not a single incident of violence. Instead, the India-Pakistan flags were held aloft jointly.
This was the biggest success of India's tour of Pakistan, 2004, where the motif was peace and friendship.
Food street ... Lahore's Anarkalli bazaar.
Fireworks lit up the night sky at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium, and it was India and not Pakistan that had won the decisive ODI. The spirit of cricket had seldom gleamed brighter.
The crowds were much thinner for the Tests the dwindling attendance for Test cricket is an area of concern for the authorities in Pakistan but those present were appreciative of good fare from both teams.
Then, especially in Multan, the haunting songs of Hadiqa Kiani, capturing the charm and romance of rustic Pakistan, wafted through the air during the intervals in play. The ambience was just right.
Multan itself is an ancient land, that has withstood the test of time, refusing to melt away, despite the enormous heat in those parts. The beaten down forts bear testimony to Multan's tale of survival and the shrines, such as the tomb of Sheikh Rukn-e-Alam, indicate the influence of Sufism in this southern Punjab town.
The Indian cricketers won their first Test on Pakistani soil, and this old town, with its maze of serpentine lanes and pocket-sized shops, had been witness to cricketing history.
The Lahore Fort is one of the great monuments of the sub-continent and the players did attend an official dinner there. The radiant Anarkali Bazaar that never sleeps, with its mosaic of the finest delicacies in Pakistan, also hosted the Indian cricketers.
At Wagah ... Virender Sehwag and Indian soldiers.
And the team travelled to the Wagah Border for a glimpse of the line separating the two nations. But then, the cricketers during this historic tour, had surmounted several man-made barriers, reaching out to the hearts and minds of the people.
The Indians received rousing applause from a sporting Karachi crowd after their last gasp last ball win in the first ODI, and it marked a huge step forward. Karachi, a lively and cosmopolitan port city, the hub of Pakistan's commerce and trade, might have earned itself a Test match, the next time around.
The dazzling Pathan-dominated Peshawar, on the mouth of the Khyber Pass, embraced the Indians as well. Its exotic markets, capturing the mystique of the orient, were visited by some of the cricketers, who treasured every moment of their experience.
The leafy, green and elegant Islamabad comes as a sharp contrast to the hectic Peshawar, but that is only to be expected for Pakistan's capital is a planned city. On Sundays, though, a unique market happens in Islamabad, and the lucky ones might even stumble upon a coin dating back to the Buddhist era.
Not surprisingly, Indian vice-captain Rahul Dravid, who apart from being a top-ranking batsman is a keen traveller, along with Murali Kartik, paid a snap visit to Taxila, 40 kilometres off Islamabad.
A university town in Sixth Century B.C., Taxila, in its heyday, was the window to a full pantheon of Buddhist architecture.
In a wonderful gesture, the players of both countries contributed to the fight against polio and AIDS, and helped find an Indian hospital to treat free of cost, a Pakistani girl afflicted with facial cancer. It was cricket for a worthy cause.
Little wonder then that the Indian cricketers, dined, feted, mobbed and welcomed every step of the way, were extremely popular in Pakistan with countless requests for pictures and autographs; it did not matter the least that the home team had been beaten in both forms of the game.
If a convoy of vehicles and armed commandos accompanied the Indians in the first phase of the tour, the security turned almost invisible as the series progressed. The Indian players, during the Tests, travelled freely to shop or meet friends.
They also had an opportunity to interact with the local population, and during one such occasion, at a management school in Lahore, paceman L. Balaji discovered how popular he was in Pakistan. "There were so many questions directed at me. I did not even have time to think over them," he said.
India's tour of Pakistan, 2004, was a triumph. The game took flight, putting a smile on the faces of people, on both sides of the border. Everybody emerged a winner here.
Send this article to Friends by