Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly has revealed interesting event in the 2004 tour across the border, which ended with a call from the then President General (r) Pervez Musharraf.
Ganguly had recently led India to a 3-2 win over Pakistan in a historic five-match ODI series back in 2004. While talking about the tour in a book which is co-written with journalist Gautam Bhattacharya, the stylish left-hander revealed an incident where he escaped the security of the hotel to visit the Food Street in Lahore.
"Well past midnight I discovered that my friends were making plans to visit the iconic Food Street for kebabs and tandoori dishes. The area is known as Gawalmandi," writes Ganguly as per Times of India. "I didn’t inform our security officer as I knew he would have stopped me. I had only told our team manager Ratnakar Shetty. I slipped through the backdoor with a cap which covered half my face. I knew I was breaking the rules, but I felt I had to get away from the rifles and tanks.”
He added: "When we were about to finish our dinner at the Food Street, someone finally called my bluff. A few yards from where we sat was journalist Rajdeep Sardesai. The moment Rajdeep spotted me, he started shouting, Sourav, Sourav. I knew I was in trouble. People started coming in from all directions and I got gheraoed. While I tried to pay the bill and escape, the shopkeeper refused to accept payment. He kept on saying, ‘Bahut achcha. We need someone as aggressive as you to lead Pakistan’.”
The incident doesn’t end there, as Ganguly further wrote that while on his way back to the hotel, his car was followed by a bike. "While we were making our way back to the hotel a speeding motorbike chased our car,” he said. “The biker was asking me to roll down the window. My co-passengers kept telling me not to as they feared he might have a bomb. I, however, did not see any threat and obliged. He stretched out his hand and echoed the shopkeeper in Food Street, ‘I am a big fan of yours. Pakistan needs a leader like you.’ The series loss had hurt the average supporter big time.”
The 45-year-old, who scored more than 18,000 runs in international cricket with 38 centuries and 107 fifties, reached the hotel safely, but there he received an unexpected call, which was of then President of Pakistan and Chief of Army Staff General Musharraf.
"President Musharraf was polite but firm,” wrote Ganguly. “He said, ‘Next time you want to go out please inform the security and we will have an entourage with you. But please don’t indulge in adventures’.”
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