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A special day for Ferozshah Kotla
Onkar Singh in New Delhi |
April 18, 2005 12:25 IST
Sunday was a special day in the history of Ferozshah Kotla ground.
It was the first time that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh came together to watch the last One Day International between India and Pakistan.
Delhi and District Cricket Association president Arun Jaitley Vice President Chetan Chauhan and a team of officials made special arrangements so that the event went off smoothly.
Singh arrived at 8.40 am to receive the visiting Pakistani president at the VIP lounge.
Delhi police chief Dr K K Paul and his men worked overtime to ensure that Musharraf reached the grounds safely. The Pakistani president had decided to drive to the ground instead of reaching there on a helicopter.
"We had all the arrangements in place for the VVIP cavalcade hours before the departure time," Anita Roy, Deputy Commissioner of New Delhi told rediff.com.
Musharraf was escorted to the ground from Hotel Taj ManSingh (where he was staying). His car covered 7 km -- distance between the hotel and the ground -- in five minutes by travelling at a speed of 120 kilometers an hour.
Soon after Arun Jaitley welcomed the president and prime minister, they were led to the ground to meet the players from both the cricket teams.
"Musharraf stopped to have a word or two with Virender Sehwag. The president recalled his devastating innings in some of the matches," said Chetan Chauhan.
"Musharraf applauded Shahid Afridi shots particularly the one that was a six," Jaitley told rediff.com.
"He spent close to one-and-a-half hours in the bulletproof glass enclosure and discussed Pakistani team's performances with Dr Singh. Musharraf was in good mood as his team faired well on the last day. He drank tea a couple of times but chose not to eat anything," said another DDCA official.
Jaitely and Paul heaved a sigh of relief after the dignitaries left and the event ended without any untoward incidents.
"One of the major problems was people were forced to go thirsty as they were not allowed to bring water bottles into the stadium for security reasons," explained Chauhan.
In the evening Jaitley and his men discussed their experiences over tea at the bar lounge. "It was certainly an honour to have Musharraf and Singh here," a relaxed Jaitley said.
India lost the match but that did not deter the spirit of these officials.