In Karachi, it takes 20 minutes to go 20 metres for a swim! (Asia Cup diary)

June 27th, 2008 - 10:25 pm ICT by IANS  


Karachi, June 27 (IANS) The distance between the Pearl Continental and the Sheraton here is hardly 20 metres, with a narrow road separating the two posh hotels - but it takes the Indian cricket team all of 20 minutes to go from the one to the other for a swim. Thanks to what the local administration dubs as “VVIP’ security”, the Indian players participating in the ongoing Asia Cup here have to first board the team bus at the Continental surrounded by elite commandos. The bus then moves to the Sheraton, where the players make a beeline for its newly renovated pool.

It’s hardly a pleasure trip, but the Indians try to make the most of it, because apart from that excursion, it’s like a “jail-term” for them.

“The players feel like they are in prison,” an Indian journalist covering the Asia Cup told this correspondent.

“For the ones who’ve been to Pakistan before, it’s nothing new. But the younger boys are getting impatient and are trying to get permission to go out shopping,” he added.

Pakistani officials are taking no chances about the security of players and officials at the Asia Cup.

The six-nation tournament is a platform for them to prove that Pakistan is a safe place for the ICC Champions Trophy scheduled for September. A few of the competing teams for that tournament, especially defending champions Australia, have already raised security concerns and there are apprehensions here that the tournament might be relocated from Pakistan.

But Pakistan Cricket Board officials are of the view that if the Asia Cup - that includes four Test playing nations - concludes without any incidents, then teams like Australia will have no reason to boycott the Champions Trophy.

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Dada the great

Saurav Ganguly may not have come to Pakistan for the Asia Cup but the tournament’s first rest day Friday completely belonged to the Prince of Calcutta.

His wife Dona basked in glory as she received the Asian Cricketer and Asian Batsman of the Year awards on behalf of her husband at the Asian Cricket Awards ceremony held here on Friday.

The former Indian captain beat his illustrious compatriot Sachin Tendulkar and Sri Lankan stars Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Muthiah Muralitharan to bag the award.

Dona was pleased to accept the awards but was unwilling to answer any questions about Sourav, who is in London caring for his ailing father.

When former Pakistan captain Rameez Raja, the MC at the ceremony, asked her to comment on “how good a husband Ganguly was”, she just smiled and left the stage saying: “I’ll tell you about that later.”

Ganguly was not the only Indian whose performance was celebrated at the Asian Awards.

Sachin Tendulkar bagged the Best ODI batsman award while Gautam Gambhir was named the Best Twenty20 batsman.

Gambhir thanked team-mate Virender Sehwag for his success.

“Most of the runs I’ve scored in recent times came from the bat of Sehwag,” he said pointing out that Sehwag’s bat did the trick for him.

Yuvraj Singh was given a special award for his six sixes in an over in a match against England in the inaugural World Twenty Championship in South Africa last October.

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