Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq narrated his experience of playing an ODI against India in 2004 at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata which was specially organised by BCCI to mark their Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
“India had invited Pakistan for the celebrations of platinum jubilee of BCCI. It was organised in a grand style. Former players from Pakistan were invited, politicians were also there. Imran Khan was there. BCCI had invited all Indian captains. When the first innings ended, they made them take rounds of the ground in small batches,” Inzamam said on his YouTube channel.
India after opting to bat first had posted a formidable 292 for six. Virender Sehwag had scored 53 and Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman scored important runs but it was a strokeful innings from Yuvraj Singh (78 off 62) that propelled India to a good total.
Inzamam said such a big target at the Eden Gardens had never been chased before and the organizers were so confident that they had written India’s name on the trophy during the innings break itself.
“So there was a lot of pressure for that match. BCCI had arranged for a big trophy for the winners. India won the toss and batted first. They scored 292 for six. 293 was never chased before there. I remember they wrote India as the winners of the platinum jubilee cup. They were so confident because they had a very good team. India always had a good team. That score had never been chased there before so they were confident of winning. The celebrations began at lunchtime,” Inzamam said.
But as it turned out, Pakistan ended up winning the match comfortably by six wickets and an over to spare. Salman Butt was the star with an unbeaten 108 off 130 balls with significant contributions from Shoaib Malik (61 off 55) and captain Inzamam (75 off 75).
“It was just one match so the pressure was much more. The second big pressure was of Imran Khan, who was watching the match from our dressing room. I have played under Imran bhai. He had kind of taken over captaincy. Salman Butt was batting with me. He suffered cramps. So a teammate came running in with a message. I thought I’m the captain who is sending me messages. He told me that Imran bhai has said Salman Butt is having troubles with his hamstring. Tell him to retire hurt, take treatment and then go back onto the field. I sent Salman back. He came back and scored a hundred.”
“I remember Younis Khan who was our best at that moment had got out for a duck in the chase. Shoaib Malik and Salman Butt put together a good partnership and then I walked in when Malik got out. I took time in the beginning, couldn’t score freely in the first 30-40 balls but gradually upped by scoring rate. Salman at the other end was playing really well. He scored a hundred,” recalled the former Pakistan captain.
Inzamam also hailed the crowd at Eden Gardens.
“In Calcutta 1 lakh people watch the match. They make a lot of noise for their home side. 15-20 thousand had come to watch us practice a couple of days before the match,” he added.