Atal Bihari Vajpayee Asked Sourav Ganguly To Win Hearts Too Ahead Of 2004 Pakistan Series

Updated: 16 August 2018 23:29 IST

The Indian team toured Pakistan after 19 years and had stalwarts like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble and Virendra Sehwag.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee Asked Sourav Ganguly To Win Hearts Too Ahead Of 2004 Pakistan Series
Vajpayee asked the Sourav Ganguly-led unit to win hearts too apart from matches. © AFP

Former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee died at 93 in New Delhi on Thursday and the whole nation is mourning the passing of the BJP patriarch. The BJP stalwart was admitted to AIIMS on June 11, after he was diagnosed with kidney tract infection, urinary tract infection and low urine output. His condition worsened over the last 24 hours and he was put on life support system after his condition became critical. Several people from the Indian sports fraternity reacted after learning about Vajpayee's demise and expressed their sorrow. Remembering the ice-breaking tour of Pakistan in 2004, Team India's former manager Ratnakar Shetty said that the series was possible only because of the efforts of the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. "The tour happened just because of Vajpayee ji. He wanted relations to improve and cricket was a mode of doing that. The BCCI decided to sent the team after the approval of his government," Shetty told PTI.

Vajpayee asked the Sourav Ganguly-led unit to win hearts too apart from matches, recalls former team manager.    

The Indian team toured Pakistan after 19 years and had stalwarts like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble and Virendra Sehwag. 

Shetty, the then team manager, remembers the meeting the team had with Vajpayee prior to their departure.        

"Before we were to leave for Pakistan, we got a message from the PMO that the prime minister wants to meet the team. He spent an hour with the team and spoke to each and every member," he said.    

"There was a navy band in the garden which was playing patriotic songs. We presented him an autographed bat and he too gave us a bat with which had a message: 'Khel hi nahi, dil bhi jeetiye, shubhkaamnaye (win hearts too besides matches, best wishes)," Shetty recalled.    He said that Vajpayee told Saurav it was an important tour and the team members should play their hearts out.    

"When we were about to leave, he said that we should listen to one more song - 'Hum honge kaamyaab'," Shetty said.    

He also said that after India won the ODI series, Vajpayee called Sourav to congratulate him.    

"I had gone on a security visit to Pakistan prior to the tour. I saw people in Karachi holding Vajpayee's pictures and posters thanking him for revival of cricket between the two countries. I told him that," Shetty said.    

Indian team won the Test series 2-1 and ODIs 3-2. Virender Sehwag earned the nickname 'Multan ka Sultan' after scoring 309 in first test in Multan.

(With PTI Inputs)

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Topics : India Cricket Team Sourav Ganguly Cricket
Highlights
  • Virender Sehwag earned the nickname 'Multan ka Sultan' after scoring 309
  • India won the ODI series and Vajpayee called Sourav to congratulate him
  • The Pakistan tour was possible only because of the efforts of Vajpayee
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