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Security, warmth beyond imagination

Amidst all the security, the first one-day match starts on Saturday, writes Sourav Ganguly.

india Updated: Apr 03, 2004 18:02 IST

Amidst all the security, the first one-day match starts on Saturday. Everybody's eyes will be on this series, as India is coming to Pakistan for a full-fledged series after 14 years. I have not seen the security provided to a President or a Prime Minister of a country, but what we have been provided is beyond anything I imagined.

From the time you come off the plane the only thing you can see is a sea of securitymen who they call Rangers -- a wing of the Pakistan Army. From the time the team boards the bus the entire 15-20 km from airport to hotel is sealed off and there's not a single car on the street. There are Black Cat commandos posted at every junction in every lane. There are seven commando vans in and around the team bus, two on each side andin the front.

Even the food that comes to you is tasted by an official. It is an unbelievable experience! The other day I was sitting in the lobby of the hotel in Lahore and I asked for a cup of tea. I kept waiting and they wouldn't serve it because there was no taster available. Finally someone else tasted the tea and I was allowed to drink.

The boys are getting used to it as they have no choice. Even when you come down to the reception four commandos are with you. So much is at stake in the series, that the Pakistan government is taking no chances and I must appreciate the way they have organised the series and the security. It has been amazing!

The warmth that has been extended to the team is also beyond imagination. It is more than what we get in India and definitely more than anywhere else in the world. It is something we are ourselves struggling to come to terms with. So people at home can't even imagine this.

The atmosphere at the ground is outstanding. I have played India, Pakistan games in two World Cups and in other parts of the world, but this is special.

Saturday's match is important for both sides as it's important to start well. Both the teams are a bit nervous because Indo-Pak matches are different. We have very good one-and-a-half-year record in one-day cricket except against Australia. We need to carry that confidence when we start the series on the morrow.

There will be a lot of opinion after our loss to Pakistan A side, but international games are different from warm-up games. The pressure is different and equal for both the sides.