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When Holi had the arch-rivals on a high

March 26, 2005 16:18 IST

History always follows a pattern. Eighteen years ago, India played Pakistan in Bangalore in the month of March. The match was keenly poised after three days, with India on 99 for four and chasing 221 for victory.

Then came the Rest Day.

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Fourth day of the fifth and final Test: Ravi Shastri was relaxing by the poolside at the Taj West End when Pakistan's Manzoor Elahi got into the festive spirit and hurled him into the pool.

Holi celebrations had just begun.

"It was Elahi who started it all; he threw Ravi Shastri in the pool with all kinds of colours on him. I don't know where the colours came from but it was the Pakistani players who were really excited about it. It was a great occasion. And, if I remember correctly, the pool had to be completely redone after that," recalls former Pakistan captain Rameez Raja.

Shastri, who was at the receiving end, "made sure that everyone else was also thrown in (the pool)."

"It was a great day. Mind you, we were in middle of a serious Test match but it was great fun joining in the celebrations. There was great camaraderie between in teams.

"We played more with water; not much colour, so it wasn't a nightmare after all," continued Rameez.

"Players like Javed Miandad went and dragged out the players from the rooms. Also, few of the Indians went door to door calling out room service and pushed us into the celebrations."

Even though the other players willingly joined in, it was toughest to get Imran Khan out of the room. He locked the door, but the players entered from a different route and sprayed colour all over him. His room was also in a mess.

Rameez regretted that the boys do not have as much fun these days.

"I think there was as much at stake when we played also, but the players are more pressed because of the commercial commitments. But I think the main problem is that cricketers now are married off very early.

"When we played, it was normal not to be married till the age of 32-33. Now the players marry at 23. That means the commitments they have are also huge," said Rameez.

March 16, 1987 was the only occasion Rameez played the festival of colours.

"We didn't play this time. Guess we are too matured for it now."

Deepti Patwardhan in Bangalore