Pink-ball Test Diary: Friday fun and frolic at Eden

Updated: 23 November, 2019 07:33 IST | Arup Chatterjee | Kolkata

Former India greats relive their glorious moments at the iconic venue as Kolkata hosts India's first day-night Test

India cricketers VVS Laxman (left) Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble and Sachin Tendulkar (right) at the Eden Gardens yesterday. Pics/ AFP, PTI
India cricketers VVS Laxman (left) Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble and Sachin Tendulkar (right) at the Eden Gardens yesterday. Pics/ AFP, PTI

Kolkata: Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble have turned out memorable performances at the Eden Gardens. On Friday, to mark the historic day-night Test here, the four were drawn into a chat during the lunch break. It was full of anecdotes about their association with the ground and with each other. The roar from the terraces every now and then spoke of how popular they are at this ground, and how well the Kolkata fans remember them.

"We have not had a chance to sit like this since our playing days. It is a special day and there could not have been a better venue for this historic game," Kumble was quoted as saying by PTI.

Laxman and Rahul Dravid shared a match-winning 376-run stand after following on against Australia at the iconic venue in 2001 before Harabhajan claimed 13-wicket haul including a hat-trick. "The game changed so quickly because of that hat-trick.

The way we won the game ushered in a new phase for the Indian team. Bhajji was sensational, got Ricky Ponting out so many times and Laxman and Dravid partnership did wonders for the confidence of the dressing room," Tendulkar, who claimed three wickets in that match, said.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina talks with Sachin Tendulkar as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee looks on yesterdayBangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina talks with Sachin Tendulkar as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee looks on yesterday

"The atmosphere here takes me back to 15 years ago. Test cricket was different back then. It is a special feeling and I feel so much love every time I come here. Hats off to [Sourav] Ganguly for doing this. Even if I play under 100 captains, he will always be my captain," said Harbhajan.

Ex-India skippers take lap of honour

Former skippers of Team India were taken round the ground in golf cart during the tea break. Tendulkar, Kumble, Kapil Dev, GR Vishwanath, Mohammed Azharuddin, Rahul Dravid, Dilip Vengsarkar, Farokh Engineer, Shanta Rangaswamy, Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami.

HIV-affected children accompany players

Former India skipper Rahul Dravid takes a lap of honour in a golf cart yesterdayFormer India skipper Rahul Dravid takes a lap of honour in a golf cart yesterday

The most endearing of the many touches CAB lent to make the Test memorable was having HIV-affected children accompany the players to the middle for the two national anthems. The children were visibly thrilled to be at the Eden, and to hold hands with their heroes would have been the dream-come-true moment.

Fans ready to pay thousands for Rs 50 ticket

The demand for tickets reached feverish pitch before Friday's start of the 'historic' Test. Hours before the 1 pm start, fans milled around the stadium. Rs 50 daily tickets were being resold for anything between Rs 900 and Rs 1,200 in the black market. Police in plain clothes nabbed a few touts but that didn't deter the rest from doing brisk business.

Bangladeshi supporters arrive in big numbers

Not surprisingly, the number of Bangladeshi supporters went up by a few thousands. Most of them came by road, crossing the border which is a three-hour
drive from the city centre.

Procuring tickets turned out to be the most challenging task.

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina graces Eden

Sheikh Hasina's presence did raise possibilities of political parleys. Many bilateral issues between the two neighbouring countries are under discussions, but with both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah keeping away, they were on the back burner. With West Bengal a party in most of the issues, including the vexed one over sharing of the Teesta water, chief minister Mamata Banerjee sharing space with the Bangladesh Prime Minister did raise speculations. Tendulkar joined Sourav Ganguly as the dignitaries were introduced to the two teams.

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First Published: 23 November, 2019 07:05 IST

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