In India, cricket is not just a game but a religion. The appetite for this sport is almost unmatchable. Having said that, at times cricket fans do miss the most enthralling on-and-off the field stories of Indian cricket. Let’s scan out few of the least heard stories of Indian cricket.
When Bharat Ratna batted with tissues in his underwear
Passion, pride and drive to play for the country can at times force you to do strange things. Once, it happened with batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, during the 2003 ICC World Cup, when India locked horns with Sri Lanka on March 10 at the Wanderers, Johannesburg. Sachin had an upset stomach, but to make sure that discomfort would not affect his concentration he decided to put tissues in his underwear. He even had to rush back to the dressing room during one of the drinks breaks. Despite the hassle, Master Blaster scored 97 runs and helped India win the lopsided contest by 183 runs.
Sourav Ganguly was held at a gun point on his first England tour
Ironically, one of the most outspoken and strong personalities in world cricket, Sourav Ganguly was once feared for life, on his first England tour. This incident happened while he was travelling with teammate Navjot Singh Sidhu in a tube train. In their carriage, there were a group of drunk teenagers which included boys and girls. Soon things took an ugly turn and Sourav sensed the tension brewing.
He advised Sidhu not to get involved in any sorts of scuffle, but by then it was too late. The drunk lad and our cricketers were already in a brawl. After exchange of few punches, the Prince of Kolkata pushed the lad on the floor. But, the next thing Dada saw was a gun pointed at him by the drunk boy. He thought his life would end in the train. Luckily, both the players were saved after a girl from the same gang, grabbed the boy’s gun and took him off the train. “I was shaking and obviously very upset, but thankfully my tour and my life were able to continue,” informed Ganguly, in the book, Beefy’s Cricket Tales in the chapter “Troubles in England”.
Sachin Tendulkar helped Shahid Afridi shape his cricket career
World comes to a standstill when India play arch rivals Pakistan in any of the sporting disciplines. On field rivalries between players make these ‘battles’ more intense and intriguing. Having said that, they share a great bond off the field. That’s the reason legendary speedster Waqar Younis had little master Sachin Tendulkar’s bat in his kit during the tour of Sri Lanka in 1996.
Interestingly, he lent the bat to youngster Shahid Afridi, who didn’t possess a proper cricket kit before the match. With that willow, Boom Boom Afridi smashed a world record of hitting the fastest ton in ODIs in mere 37 balls. In that match, other team mates also helped ‘forever’ young Afridi with their boots and helmet.