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Sunny days and 11 Pak fielders with helmets on

The last India and Pakistan encounter at Motera saw Sunil Gavaskar reach the 10,000-run mark. But apart from that memorable moment there was...

Written by K. R. Guru Prasad | Ahmedabad |
April 11, 2005

The last India and Pakistan encounter at Motera saw Sunil Gavaskar reach the 10,000-run mark. But apart from that memorable moment there was a sight from this historic Test in 1987 that the old-timers still talk about: The entire Pakistan team walking to field with helmets on. Almost 18 years after that eventful match, Umesh Narain — sports scribe with The Indian Express then — and Tushar Trivedi — who was the official scorer for that Test — give a first-hand account

It doesn’t come as a surprise to find the Gujarat Cricket Association going in a security overdrive two days before the 4th ODI of the India-Pakistan series. With crowd trouble almost ruining Sunil Gavaskar’s ‘10,000 Moment’ in 1987, this time the hosts aren’t taking any chances.

Recalling that unsavory incident of the past, Tushar Trivedi says, ‘‘It was the post-tea session of the third day of the match when the crowd suddenly started abusing Pakistan players.’’

Those were the days when the fans weren’t barred from carrying water bottles in the stand and according to Trivedi ‘‘there was a section in the crowd that hurdled bottles at the Pakistan fielders’’.

Not just that, Umesh Narain recalls how, ‘‘the spectators chipped out small pieces of concrete from the pavilion stand and threw them at the players.’’

This was followed by a walk out. ‘‘When there was a serious threat of his players getting injured, Imran Khan opted to walk out,’’ he recalls.

According to Trivedi, the reason for the crowd to be agitated was dull proceedings on the ground. ‘‘The crowd got worked up because Pakistan batted very slowly. They scored only 130 runs on the first day. And not many more on the second day too. Two players, Ijaz Faqih and Younis Ahmed, were the prime targets.’’

‘‘Faqih got a hundred but he was very slow and so was Ahmed. The crowd probably felt they were being deprived of quality cricket and reacted. I am sure they would have done this to any team and not just to Pakistan,’’ he adds.

With the Pakistan team asking for a safety assurance before re-entering the field, the hosts asked help from the biggest star in the Indian team. As Narain says, ‘‘With crowd in no mood to relent, the authorities decided to call in Gavaskar and asked him to pacify the crowd. He spoke in the microphone in Gujarati and urged the crowd to stop throwing things and treat Pakistan players like their guests of honour. This cooled down things.’’

The Pakistan players came out after half an hour but there was more drama. Says Trivedi, ‘‘Pakistan team was asked to get back into the field by their coach Intikhab Alam and the players walked out of the dressing room in a line. But captain Imran was not pleased with this, and he ordered the players to get back into the room. ‘‘After a few minutes they emerged again but now wearing helmets. This was a sight.’’

Talking about the security arrangement, Trivedi says, ‘‘Few GCA volunteers and a handful policemen were all one could see at the ground.’’

That indeed is a far cry from the present day Motera. About 15,000 policemen, a battery of security guards, metal detectors, monitoring cameras will try to ensure that Inzi’s men don’t need to walk out with helmets.

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