Pakistan savour hospitality ahead of clash with arch-rivals India

Kolkata, March 17 (IANS) Gorging on Indian cuisine, watching inspiring movies and buying expensive gifts for their families back home, the Pakistan cricketers are savouring every moment of their stay here.

But rest assured the Indian hospitality will not come in the way when they take on the arch-rivals in the ‘mother of all clashes’ at the World Twenty20.

Seemingly having a penchant to court controversies, the Pakistan team did not have the most auspicious start to the tournament. They not only lost a precious practice game after a delayed arrival due to security concerns, skipper Shahid Afridi also found himself at the receiving end of criticism by his own people back home when he raved about Indian hospitality and went on to say Pakistani cricketers got more love in India.

Unfazed by the developments off the field, the team started off the tournament with a crushing victory over Bangladesh with Afridi’s superlative all-round performance being the icing on the cake.

“The off the field developments coupled with having missed a practice game did create a cause of concern initially but the adulation the team received and the performance against Bangladesh has got the team on a high.

“It’s a happy bunch of guys enjoying every moment of the tournament,” a source close to the team said.

From well known eateries and confectioners regularly sending the players their favourite food, to fans on the ground or on the streets lustily cheering for them, the city’s bid to be the perfect host has some of the Pakistani players declaring, albeit within their team hotel, Kolkata was like their ‘second home’.

Extensive security cover though came in the way of hospitality when the team’s plan to watch Priyanka Chopra-starrer ‘Jai Gangaajal’ at a city multiplex had to be cancelled. The players had to be content with watching the action movie at the team hotel.

With inspiring movies topping the players’ preference, a special screening of Shah Rukh Khan-starrer ‘Chak De India’ was also held at the team hotel.

Ahead of the big ticket engagement against India, the Pakistan team – after a gruelling session at the nets on Thursday – had a much needed opportunity to explore the city and do some shopping for their families.

“Saris for their beloved is on the top of their long shopping list. With just a day in between before the mega clash, the players are eager to spend quality time exploring the city,” said the source.

Afridi and company may be gung ho over the hospitality and the adulation, but expect sparks to fly when the two sub-continental sides collide on the 22 yards at the hallowed stadium on Saturday.

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