"Dont indulge in a midnight adventure" when President Pervaiz Musharraf called Indian Captain Ganguly
NEW DELHI - Former India captain Sourav Ganguly's new autobiography, 'A Century Is Not Enough' just hit the stores and the book contains quite a few unknown incidents about the cricketer's life during his illustrious career spanning 16 years.
One of the incidents which Ganguly wrote about in his book happened when he led India on a tour to Pakistan in 2004.
The Indian team was surrounded by security personnel throughout the tour. The ODI series saw Ganguly's team win the five-match series 3-2.
During their stay at Lahore's Pearl Continental Hotel, Ganguly wanted to head out to the famous food street in the city known as Gawalmandi but due to the tight security he had to literally sneak out of the building.
"Well past midnight I discovered that my friends were making plans to visit the iconic Food Street for kebabs and tandoori dishes. The area is known as Gawalmandi," says Ganguly in the book co-written with journalist Gautam Bhattacharya.
"I didn't inform our security officer as I knew he would have stopped me. I had only told our team manager Ratnakar Shetty. I slipped through the backdoor with a cap which covered half my face I knew it was breaking the rules, but I felt I had to get away from the rifles and tanks."
Sourav Ganguly and Inzamam-ul-Haq during a commercial shoot in Calcutta in 2004 (Reuters Photo)
The Prince of Kolkata, one of the most recognisable faces in world cricket, had to even change his voice when talking to people on the street.
"Arey aap Sourav Ganguly ho na?" someone asked excitedly. I said no in a slightly modulated voice. He shook his head and said, 'I thought as much. Par aap bilkul Sourav jaise dikhte ho.'"
"We were about to finish our dinner when someone finally called my bluff. A few yards from where we sat was journalist Rajdeep Sardesai. The moment Rajdeep spotted me, he started shouting, Sourav, Sourav. I knew I was in trouble.
"People started coming in from all directions and I got gheraoed-While I tried to pay the bill and escape, the shopkeeper refused to accept payment. He kept on saying, 'Bahut achcha. We need someone as aggressive as you to lead Pakistan'."
While driving back to the hotel Ganguly was stopped mid way by a biker.
"While we were making our way back to the hotel a speeding motorbike chased our car. The biker was asking me to roll down the window. My co-passengers kept telling me not to as they feared he might have a bomb. I, however, did not see any threat and obliged. He stretched out his hand and echoed the shopkeeper in Food Street, 'I am a big fan of yours. Pakistan needs a leader like you.' The series loss had hurt the average supporter big time."
The news of this incident reached then Pakistan President Musharraf who immediately decided to speak to the Indian captain over the phone.
"President Musharraf was polite but firm. He said, 'Next time you want to go out please inform the security and we will have an entourage with you. But please don't indulge in adventures'," Ganguly wrote.
India had won the 5-match ODI series 3-2 and clinched the 3-Test series 2-1.