Pakistan's Arafat goes down memory lane in New Delhi

Post 26/11, there has been a ban-like situation on the cricketers from across the border and it’s precisely why Arafat’s appearance – playing here for Sussex Sharks – that makes for an interesting situation, if not perplexing.  “Last year as part of the County side Kent I had won the England’s domestic T20 tournament and would have qualified for the Champions League but for the presence of some Indian Cricket League players. It’s another matter that the league had to be cancelled. This time I got this chance as part of the Sussex side and thankfully there were no legal hassles… So it’s good for me. If there had been any problem I would not have been here but once I got an NOC, there were no doubts or fears in my mind,” he said on Thursday.

 The fast-bowling all-rounder, who made his debut against India in Bangalore in 2007, has a special connection to India – he studied in Delhi in St Giri School in Chanakyapuri for two years when his father was posted in the capital with the Pakistan High Commission in the visa section.     “I was in the second or third standard then,” he recalled. “I went there after 22 years today and met a teacher who didn’t remember me but recollected my brother, Imran Khan.

 “As a youngster I had visited Taj Mahal, Qutab Minar and Ajmer Sharif and would want to visit this time also if I get some time. We still have family photographs of me and my brother climbing a tree at the Qutab Minar. When I was coming here my mom had specifically asked me to visit the school. I just spoke to my family and informed them that I had gone to the school,” Arafat said.

 Arafat revealed that the Pakistani players do believe what’s happening between the two countries was not right. “There is a feeling in players on the both sides that whatever is happening is not right for both the countries. But that’s not the only topic that we discuss,” he said, adding Bollywood and family life too feature prominently during their chats.  “I still remember some of Amitabh Bachchan movies I saw with my family during our stay in Delhi,” he reminisced.  The 28-year-old is also pained at allegations of match-fixing against Pakistan and he partly blames the media for it. “Media does not highlight good things. For example, a big team like Australia lost matches and was knocked out of the T20 World Cup but their board increased their salaries. Whereas in India or in Pakistan, as soon as we lose we are branded fixers,” he remarked calling for saner minds to prevail.

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