Calcutta: The occasion was far from ideal, but the Srinagar Shah Jahans, winners of the Army-organised T20 Kashmir Premier League (KPL), didn’t want to miss the opportunity of interacting with the one and only Sourav Ganguly.
“There are cricketers from Srinagar who’d just love to spend two minutes with you. Can you spare the time, please? We’ll be grateful,” Major Amit Singh, who is co-ordinating the visit, asked Sourav, at the Eden on Thursday evening.
Sourav was then preparing to leave after a condolence meeting called by the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) in memory of his father, Chandi, who passed away last week, but readily agreed.
“Hi guys... Does (offie) Parvez Rasool also play for you? I hope you’re enjoying your stay in Calcutta and all the very best,” Sourav, India’s most successful Test captain along with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, told the Adil Reshi-led team.
[The headline-making Rasool plays for the Anantnag Arsenals. His team made the final of the 2012-13 KPL.]
A few minutes later, after personally inviting the CAB staff to the shradh ceremony at the family residence on Sunday, Sourav even posed with the Shah Jahans.
Reshi, over the moon, told The Telegraph: “It has been a big day for us... Sourav is our hero.”
Major Singh was overwhelmed. “To be frank, we weren’t very hopeful, given the occasion... It’s so nice that Sourav acceded to my request and spent a couple of minutes with the boys... It has been a once in a lifetime experience for them.”
Two members of the team, including Reshi, have represented J&K in the Ranji Trophy.
The Shah Jahans have already played one match against a local team and will play two more before starting the journey back to Srinagar on Sunday evening.
Two editions of the KPL have been held and the top-three finishers are sent to different parts of the country by the Army, an initiative which is part of its Operation Sadhbhavana.
The 2012-13 edition saw the participation of around 300 teams from 10 districts.
T20, clearly, looks to be big in J&K.
“Besides giving the cricketers exposure, trips such as this allow them to have a feel of India... So, such visits don’t only have a cricketing purpose,” Major Singh pointed out.
While the runners-up went to New Delhi last month, the third-placed team has been sent to Dehradun and Pune. Both are home to iconic institutions.
Last season, too, the KPL winners (Srinagar Sher Dils) had come to Calcutta and the trip did wonders for quick Mehjoor Ali Sofi.