Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), hosting the second ODI between India and Pakistan on Thursday, is on an overdrive to make the match an eventful one. It has invited former captains from both India and Pakistan to grace the occasion.
The Jagmohan Dalmiya-chaired association is planning to felicitate the captains during the match, which incidentally will complete 25 years of ODI cricket at the Eden. Just like the action on the field, there will be a lot of excitement in the sideshow too.
A cavalcade is being planned in the Eden Gardens. It will be taken out during the break between the two innings. The captains will be paraded before the crowd which is expected to pack the stands. A sell-out crowd is likely for the day-night contest.
Among those invited from India are Nari Contractor, Chandu Borde, Ajit Wadekar, Bishen Singh Bedi, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Dilip Vengsarkar, Kapil Dev, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble. Sachin Tendulkar too has been invited but there is no word from the Little Master, who is currently holidaying at a hill station. “We’ve invited all captains, Sachin included,” said a CAB officials, admitting that Tendulkar has not confirmed his presence.
“Yes I’ve been invited and I will be going. I’m looking forward to the match,” said Vengsarkar. “Kolkata is my favourite venue, nothing like watching with over 80,000 people,” he remarked.
Among 80,000 people, conspicuous by his absence will be Mohammad Azharuddin, one of the most successful captains of India. The match-fixing taint will keep him out of the gala event although he was cleared by the Hyderabad high court recently. “The BCCI has not taken a formal position vis-a-vis Azhar and so we do not want to take a chance. He will not be there,” said the CAB official without elaborating.
The CAB has sent out invites to Pakistan captains too but it is unlikely that many of them will turn up. Intikhab Alam is expected but CAB’s hopes of Imran Khan and Javed Miandad will not be realised. While Imran is reportedly busy with his political activities in Pakistan, Miandad, despite being issued a visa, will not be making it. The 55-year-old former captain may turn up for the Delhi match on January 6. Mushtaq Mohammad was expected for the event but sources within the Pakistan camp say the former captain has not got the visa. He is currently in England.
“We want to celebrate our 25th year of ODIs and we want to do it in a grand way. We’ve invited all the captains from either side of the border. Let’s see who will be able to make it,” said Dalmiya.
Also present will be the officials of the BCCI. With Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Zaka Ashraf present, it is not just cricket but cricket diplomacy would also be witnessed at the Eden.