Imtiaz Ahmed recalls days as a Pakistan pioneer

Kolkata, Jan. 4 -- Imtiaz Ahmed came to the Eden Gardens six decades back, as a member of the first Pakistan team to tour India in 1952, but he remembers quite a lot from that historic tour.

"There was this left-handed batsman in the Indian team who scored a brilliant century here. Fazal Mahmood was at his best that time but that batsman stopped him by scoring that hundred. I still remember vividly that he scored most of his runs towards mid-wicket and we couldn't stop him despite our best efforts," said Ahmed, who turns 85 on Saturday. He was here as a goodwill ambassador from Pakistan.

Deepak Shodhan was the batsman Ahmed was talking about. Like many promising starters, he also disappeared from the scene.

Relaxed times

When asked how it felt to be a member of the first Pakistan team to travel to India, Ahmed got nostalgic.

"We were just novices when we came here the first time. We didn't know anything, but we were just too pleased to be here."

Ahmed, who batted in the top order and also started keeping wickets later, felt they had far more fun than the current lot.

"It was so different in our times. It used to be so open. We would go out, meet so many people and make many friends. But when I see the current lot, they hardly get to go out of their rooms."

Even as he spoke about the friendships they forged, he acknowledged the pressure to win was the same.

"The pressure was of course there. You could see how many draws we played at that time. Unfortunately, they had made not losing to each other a matter of honour in those times."

"It is a great moment to be back in India and at this stadium. This stadium was very big at that time, some 85 yards, but it's much smaller now.," he began pulling out minute details from the depths of his memory.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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