Calcutta: Eden Gardens has been home to VVS Laxman, cricket-wise. A phenomenal average of 110.63, and an unbeaten hundred in each of his last three Tests here!
On Thursday, the Hyderabad batsman was back at his favourite ground, although in a different role. He was among the 19 former Indian and Pakistani players who were felicitated by the Cricket Association of Bengal as part of the celebrations of the silver jubilee of ODIs at the Eden.
So how does it feel to be back and not be part of the dressing room? "Eden Gardens always has a special place in my heart... It's always nice to be back here... A special feeling," Laxman said after the felicitation.
"It's a nice gesture by the CAB. The people's love and affection have always touched me here and it's been no different this time," Laxman remarked. His wish of an India win, however, wasn't fulfilled.
The former captains and players felicitated (in order of the presentations) were Bishan Singh Bedi, Mushtaq Mohammed, Ajit Wadekar, Gundappa Viswanath, Sunil Gavaskar, Intikhab Alam, Kapil Dev, Imtiaz Ahmed, Sadiq Mohammed, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Wasim Akram, Ravi Shastri, Sandeep Patil, Ramiz Raja, Dilip Vengsarkar, Laxman, Navjyot Singh Sidhu, Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly.
The players were paraded around the ground in open vehicles during the innings break. Each of the former players was presented with a silver salver, shawl, commemorative tie and a cheque of Rs 1 lakh. The presentations were made by state chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Zaka Ashraf and CAB president Jagmohan Dalmiya were among those present.
Akram, who has a connection with the city being part of the Kolkata Knight Riders support staff in the IPL, was also touched by the love and affection. "The atmosphere was lovely and wonderful... Dil bhar gaya," he said.
The city's very own Sourav also couldn't hide his happiness. "Only Eden can offer such love and affection," he said.