Indians welcomed to land of Pathans
Peshawar is a place where India does not invoke memories of past hatred, writes Pradeep Magazine.india Updated: Jul 22, 2006 15:44 IST
The Indian cricketers arrived in one of the oldest cities of the sub-continent, a city that has withstood the ravages of time, and is still alive and breathing with life.
It is a city where the new and the old stand side by side. The old bazaars and the new shopping malls all are both there, throbbing with life and people who haven't discarded their traditional Pathan dress— the shalwar-kameez.
These tall men with rugged faces roam a city that invokes memories of ancient and medieval wars and of a robust people with a history of being brave and proud of their heritage.
Not many players would have noticed the chowk from where they turn into the stadium. It is a roundabout that displays the bust of Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, better known in India as Frontier Gandhi. Gaffar Khan was the man who, along with Mahatma Gandhi, bitterly opposed Partition and is revered here, like Gandhi, as an Apostle of peace.
Peshawar is also a place where India does not invoke memories of past hatred among the people. For them, India is place with which they have always shared a warm relationship untroubled by the baggage of history and guilt. In this city, so unlike any place in Pakistan, the Indian players arrived on Friday evening and were at the ground early Saturday morning.
With the memory of a massive Test defeat behind them and no time to debate or think about what went wrong in Karachi, the Indian team has now to change their mindset and get into a rhythm that is completely different from that of the five-day game. The five-match one-day series is here. The interest levels are bound to go sky high in both countries, as will the stakes in victory or defeat.
Watching them go through their chores at a relaxed pace, one couldn't help but feel that if India does not play well in the one-day series, there are bound to be definite repercussions back home. The role of the high-profile coach Greg Chappell will come under greater scrutiny, as will his skills in man management. There are indications that his relationship with manager Rajsingh Dungarpur are very strained.
Rajsingh, after his initial outburst against Sourav Ganguly (later denied by him) has, surprisingly, maintained a low profile. Nothing much should be read into what is being whispered in hushed tones now but if India were to end this series in disaster, Rajsingh has enough clout in the Board to raise serious questions over Chappell's role in the team.
No one is quite sure what led to the differences between the two, though it is said that Chappell blames Dungarpur for all the media leaks regarding the team selection. But it is pointless to look too far ahead. As of now, the focus is on the immediate and the one-day series that begins from Monday.