|Pakistan players at Odisha Cricket Association club in Cuttack during the dinner party on Thursday night and (below) at Bhubaneswar airport on their way back home on Friday morning. Telegraph pictures
Cuttack, Feb. 8: The Pakistan women’s cricket team, which left for home today, carried back some very “sweet” memories of Odisha with them.
Of all the home-made Odisha sweetmeats that were dished out to them during their 12-day stay here, chhenna poda (roasted cottage cheese) was what really tugged at their heartstrings.
“It was overall a good experience. Our stay within the Barabati Stadium complex was comfortable and everybody took good care of us. We enjoyed the local food and sweets, especially chhenna poda,” said Pakistan team skipper Sana Mir.
Last night, the Odisha Cricket Association had hosted a farewell dinner party for the team on its club premises. “The love and hospitality that we received from the local people and the association, it feels like we are leaving our country and not Cuttack, a place we had never visited earlier. This was the most memorable tour for us,” said Pakistan batting coach Basit Ali, while leaving for Bhubaneswar airport this morning.
The association had worked out a special menu for the Pakistani players and handed over the responsibility to the local Mahavir Catering Services to rustle up the delicacies. While mutton and chicken biryani topped their list for the main course, they relished chhenna poda, rasgullas, gulab jamun and kheer sagar for dessert.
“We are glad that they appreciated our food from day one,” said Srikant Sahu of Mahavir Catering Services.
The visiting team presented an autographed bat to the association and also invited the state women’s cricket team to their country to play with them. Before starting their World Cup campaign, Pakistan had played two friendly matches with the local side, each winning one game.
The squad was accommodated at the newly built association club and said the services were at par with that of a seven-star hotel.
Association secretary Ashirbad Behera said: “We got a lot of co-operation from the state government in making arrangements for the team on short notice. The Pakistani girls and support staff members had no complaints about their stay or security. In fact, they were very happy.”
The chances of Pakistan’s participation in the ICC World Cup looked grim after a lot of state associations had refused to play host to the team following tension at the LoC. The association made arrangements within four days and accommodated the team at the newly built club.
CEO of the International Cricket Council David Richardson, who visited Cuttack during the Group B league matches last week, had lauded the association’s efforts and assured full co-operation for considering Barabati as a Test venue.