By Amit Roy
Skipper Virat Kohli and the other members of the Indian cricket team attended a reception held their honour on Monday (12) in the historic Long Room at Lord’s.
The party to celebrate India-England cricketing ties was hosted by the Indian High Commissioner Yash Sinha and his wife Girija.
Sinha pointed out that “this is the year of India-UK culture 2017. What better way to connect than through cricket!”
He said that the first official Indian team had come to England in 1932, adding: “It was in 1792 when the Calcutta Football/Cricket Club was set up but I am also told in 1721 a group of British sailors played cricket on the Kutch coast in Gujarat.”
Guests included officials from the BCCI, the ECB, the MCC plus cricketers from yesteryear such as Farokh Engineer, Dilip Doshi, Mike Brearley and from the recent past, Andrew Strauss and Monty Panesar.
There was also an exhibitions to cover cricketing links put together jointly by the MCC Museum and the Nehru Centre in London. This has been shifted to the Nehru Centre in London.
Kohli was honest that he had not done well during India’s last Test tour of England three summers ago.
“We had a historic Test at Lord’s,” he recalled. “If you talk about me personally as a player I haven’t had such a good time here. But regardless it is a lovely place to come here and play, especially in ICC tournaments where there are massive (Indian) crowds wherever we play and the stadiums are beautiful.”
As he spoke the shadows were lengthening across Lord’s. From the Long Room, which is decorated with paintings and the game’s memorabilia, the hallowed turf looked immaculate.
“If you have a sunny day in England there’s no better place to play cricket,” observed Kohli.
He noted: “Everyone wants to see an India-England final. Hopefully we will reach our second final in a row – led so beautifully by MS (Dhoni) last time. (I will) try and do whatever I can in my little ability to take the team forward – it has been good so far.”
Dhoni, too, spoke about the joys of playing cricket in England.
“It is an amazing place to play cricket because of its own challenges but what I really love are the bus journeys – you don’t have to worry about the flights,” he said.
“You come here, you are here for 60 days, people appreciate cricket,” he stressed. “It has been a pleasure playing here. I have come here a lot of times – I have memories of winning. I have memories of going through bad series, (but also) winning the Champion’s Trophy. A lot of things have happened but overall I have got some very fond memories.”
With a nod towards Sharmila Tagore, who was also present, Farokh Engineer remembered her late husband, Mansur Ali Khan “Tiger” Pataudi – the India-England Test trophy is named after his family.
“Tiger” was special, said Engineer, “the greatest” of the captains under whom he had played.