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A Pak fan who swears by Sachin

Local taxi driver Aftab is a staunch Tendulkar fan and he does not mind picking up a fight when it comes to defending him.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2006 17:16 IST

Local taxi driver Mohammed Aftab is a staunch Sachin Tendulkar fan and he does not mind picking up a fight with his friends when it comes to defending the master batsman's current poor form.

Aftab said that when the Indian team arrived at the Peshawar International Airport on Friday evening, his main aim was to take Tendulkar's autograph. But due to the tight security he could not go anywhere near the Mumbai master.

"I went to take his autograph. I knew some people at the airport as I always pick up passengers from there, so it would have been easy for me," he said after the Indian and Pakistani teams reached here for the first one-day international to be played here Monday. "But the security was too tight and I could not get his signature. He is a great batsman."

Aftab said Tendulkar was the best batsman in the Indian team and that it was a matter of time when he returns to peak form in the one-dayers.

"When he got out in the second innings of the third Test at Karachi a few days ago, off a ball that kept very low, I waited for the umpire to declare it a 'dead ball'," he said, cursing the umpire for denying him a chance to see his hero bat longer.

"The umpire should have declared it a 'dead ball'," he stressed. "I picked up a fight with my Pakistani friends when we discussed his dismissal."

Cricketers' families return home

Some of the Indian cricketers' families who were here during the Test series have returned home, allowing their husbands to focus on the one-day series beginning onMonday.

Captain Rahul Dravid's wife and their infant son, and the wives of vice-captain Virender Sehwag and VVS Laxman had accompanied them since Jan 5 when the team landed in Lahore from Delhi.

The wife and daughter of Sourav Ganguly had been with him since the second Test in Faisalabad, while the wives and son and daughter of Sachin Tendulkar and Ajit Agarkar joined them for the third and final Test in Karachi.

At the end of the Karachi match, which India lost, all the spouses left for India, leaving their husbands to manage the pressures of one-day cricket that requires more frequent travelling.

Peshawar's contribution

Peshawar and a small village near the city, Nawankali, have made a great contribution to Pakistani sports - from cricket to squash.

Fast bowler Umar Gul, who has been picked for the first three one-dayers against India, is from Nawankali, the place that has produced a host of multiple world champion squash players.

Shahid Afridi, the hard-hitting batsman, originally comes from Dera Adamkhail, a hilly tribal area about 38 km from Peshawar. Afridi and his family are now settled in Karachi.

Batsman Yasir Hameed, who still lives in Peshawar, is not in the squad at the moment. Hameed had scored a fine 98 in the third one-day international when India last played in this North West Frontier Province (NWFP) capital during the March 19, 2004.

Vice-captain Younis Khan is also from NWFP. He belongs to a small city Mardan, which he visited Friday soon after reaching here with the team.

Nawankali has produced an array of world beating squash players, like Jahangir Khan, the 10-time British Open champions and currently president of the World Squash Federation, his father Roshan Khan, Jansher Khan and a host of others.

First Published: Feb 04, 2006 17:02 IST