The Telegraph
Friday , September 21 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sunil Gavaskar pep talk for Afghanistan squad in Hindi

- Aravinda de Silva also invited by coach Kabir Khan
Sunil Gavaskar

Colombo: Sunil Gavaskar, one of the living legends in sport, gave a 25-minute “pep talk” to Afghanistan’s cricket squad, in Hindi, on Thursday evening.

Former Sri Lanka captain Aravinda de Silva, who would have been most sought after had he been playing in this T20 era, also spoke to Nawroz Mangal and his men.

“Coach Kabir Khan invited me, but the time he’d first suggested (7.00 pm) wasn’t suitable because of my TV commitments... However, I did speak to the players at their hotel a little later,” Gavaskar told The Telegraph around 9.30 pm.

Khan is a former Pakistan cricketer, having played Tests and ODIs. His wards, who narrowly went down to India on Wednesday, face England on Friday.

Laughing, Gavaskar said: “Had Kabir approached me on Tuesday, before Afghanistan’s match against India, I would have thought twice... With that out of the way, I gladly agreed...

“Cricket is a universal game and it feels good to interact with players... I spoke generally, after Aravinda had completed his pep talk... What Aravinda said in English had to be translated (by Khan) into Pashto...

“At the coach’s request, I spoke in Hindi, which was fine with them... Nothing had to be translated.”

Khan couldn’t be reached for a comment, but injured ’keeper Mohammed Shahzad enthusiastically pointed out that the squad had got a “massive boost.”

“It can’t get better than having Gavaskarsaab and Aravinda speak to us... They boosted our confidence before such an important match... Gavaskarsaab said that our fielding had to improve... There were other suggestions as well...

“Both Gavaskarsaab and Aravinda were so supportive... Our confidence can only soar... Going forward, we’ve got a massive boost,” Shahzad remarked.

Clearly, it’s going to remain a memorable evening for the Mangals.

One can’t recall when an Indian coach invited Gavaskar, who’d briefly been a consultant (in 2004-05), to give a pep talk to his wards.

The loss, one may add, hasn’t been Gavaskar’s.