Guwahati: There are some cricketing stories that are worth remembering from both on and off the field. With cricket fever gripping the entire nation due to the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup, one such memorable story from the early 1990s has emerged, thanks to a Facebook post shared by former Guwahati hotelier Agnirath Chowdhury.
Chowdhury is currently based in Sydney, Australia.
In the post that he uploaded on June 26, Chowdhury — also known as Dickie — recalled how he, along with a couple of friends, had gone out with the Indian cricket team who were in Guwahati, Assam for an ODI. The group’s long drive turned into an episode to remember after Chowdhury and his friends were mistaken for United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) rebels trying to ‘kidnap’ Sachin Tendulkar and other members of the Indian cricket team.
The incident happened sometime in 1992, when Team India stayed at Belle Vue Hotel, Guwahati for an ODI in the city.
“Vishy Bhujel shared these amazing memories of a time long gone by; when we all had hair on our heads and hope in our hearts. This was when the Indian cricket came to Guwahati for an ODI and stayed at our hotel. This was also the time when Vinod Kambli was the rising star of Indian cricket. We were in school back then. I recall the time when we went for a drive with Sachin Tendulkar, Vijay Yadav, Kambli, Salil Ankola and Venkatapathy Raju,” wrote Chowdhury, who is the son of Hemendra Dutta Chowdhury, the chairman-cum-director of Belle Vue Hotel in Guwahati.
“We then stopped at a nearby Dhaba in Amingaon which was closed by then. We requested the sleepy owner for some food who grumbled at the audacity of our request . Suddenly, Tendulkar pops his head out of the window and the man jumps back, as if he’d seen a ghost. He now believes that we’ve kidnapped the Indian cricketers for a ransom (remember, those were ULFA days) and in a moment of patriotism calls the cops,” Chowdhury said.
“We (led by Tendulkar) had a hard time convincing the cops that they had come of their own accord and we were now all going back to the hotel after some food. The cops now wanted to confirm the story with the team manager (Wadekar, I believe) and recall how difficult it was for us to convince them that it was a bad idea. Ultimately, it was some money that did the convincing,” he added.
“Over the years, this story was told several times and reminded us of a time when our cricketers were actually mortals. This story also finds its final resting place in this post. There were a few believers but more disbelievers of the story,” wrote Chowdhury.