They lost matches, won hearts in Pak

Shekhar, from Shimoga district, told Deccan Herald the “Indian blind cricket team was treated like VIPs in Pakistan and 70-80 security personnel accompanied us everywhere.”
Shekhar, 25, led the 16-member squad in three one-day matches and an equal number of T20 games against Pakistan. The team boarded “Friendship Bus” in Delhi on November 16 and returned on November 28. The Indian team lost the one-day and T20 series. However, Shekhar, who has been leading the Indian side since 2002, is not demoralised with the outcome of matches and said that “the team will practise hard to defeat our friends from across the border.”

Shekhar, who made friends from the Pakistani side, quipped: “Though they have defeated us, we have won each other’s hearts. I have got new friends like Pakistan players Abdur Razzak, Mansoor Jan and Mohammad Fayyaz.”

The Indian skipper “also exchanged phone numbers and mail addresses to remain in touch with his Pakistani friends.”

Shekhar, who is a big fan of Shahid Afridi, former skipper of Pakistan, praised people’s support to blind cricket in Pakistan. “Wherever we played we got a lot of support. People came in large numbers to watch our game and encouraged us,” he said.

Sekhar said people on both sides of the border believe that “cricket can help strengthen ties between India and Pakistan. Things should change and national teams of both countries should play on each other’s soil.”

This was the third Pakistan tour of Shekhar, who loves mutton biryani of Lahore and wants to meet his cricket idol Shahid Afridi some day.

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