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Bishan Singh Bedi and Intikhab Alam recall old India-Pakistan rivalry days at Kartapur

India and Pakistan will again clash in the ICC T20 World Cup 2022. The Indo-Pak World Cup clashes are always memorable, and Bishan Bedi and Intikhab Alam have recalled one of the clashes in Kartapur.

Bishan Singh Bedi and Intikhab Alam recall an old India-Pakistan rivalry from Kartapur-ayh
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First Published Oct 6, 2022, 7:05 PM IST

"They were laughing, singing and crying together. It was special but emotionally draining," Bishan Singh Bedi's wife Anju tallied the former Indian cricketer's reunion with an old friend and former Pakistani skipper Intikhab Alam at Kartarpur Sahib. The 76-year-old Indian spin legend had longed to make the trip across the border since the Kartarpur Corridor was opened in November 2019, paying his respects at Guru Nanak's final resting place. But COVID struck, and then his health deteriorated after undergoing heart surgery and brain surgery last year. The former India skipper's memory was affected, but his wife Anju revealed he had come a long way since then, allowing him to transit to Kartarpur on Tuesday.

"Bishan is much better compared to last year, but I would say he is still 90% there, but he still can't regularly travel because of his condition. Since we were coming to Amritsar for our grandson's birthday, we wanted to club the two things together. I am glad it worked out as it was important for Bishan to connect with that place [Kartarpur Sahib]," Anju apprised PTI.

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Borderlines were clouded as Bedi and his wife reached the holy place from the Indian side. As planned, a couple of his Pakistani mates, Alam and another former cricket Shafqat Rana were impatiently lingering at the Pakistan side to meet their dear pal. "I share 50 years of friendship with Bishan. It was heartening to see him as he suffered a stroke last year. I did not feel great seeing him in a wheelchair, but by the grace of God, he has recovered quickly. I had last met him in Kolkata in 2013, but we used to chat regularly on WhatsApp and phone," Alam notified.

"I never thought we would end up meeting at Kartarpur Sahib. It was an emotional day for both of us as we looked back at the old times, there were tears in his eyes and tears in my eyes, but in no time, the two Punjabis were back to cracking jokes as usual," added Alam.

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Besides his unbreakable bond with Bedi, the 80-year-old from Pakistan strongly connects with India. Alam was born in Hoshiarpur and coached the Indian Punjab cricket side in the 2000s. After the two cricketing legends and their families ate langar concurrently at the Gurdwara, Alam sang to Anju's special request.

Alang sang a few lines of Louis Armstrong's 'When The Saints Go Marching in', taking Bedi and himself back to the Rest of the World's tour of Australia in 1971. "I had picked up this song from a guy called Bryan Hardy during my playing days in Scotland. Anju bhabhi requested me to sing, and I could not say no. I could see Bishan getting emotional at that time," recalled Alam, who is into jazz and classical music.

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The other members of the RoW squad were the incredible Zaheer Abbas, who has been highly unhealthy after contracting COVID-19, Farokh Engineer and Sunil Gavaskar. After his surgery last year, Bedi could not recognise many people, but his face lit up after seeing his Pakistani friends.

"They were laughing and singing and crying together. His [Bishan's] face lit up seeing his friends. He recognises everybody. Most of the former Pakistani cricketers are now based in England, so we could not find them," said Anju. The BSF soldiers and Pakistani Rangers wanted a piece of Bedi as he crossed the border.

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Bedi and Alam met after nine years. Though they hoped to see each other soon, they wanted their respective families to carry the inheritance of their companionship. "The memories of this trip will linger on forever. We have planned to bring all our kids together the next time we meet. The legacy should be passed on to the next generation when we are gone," concluded Anju.

(With inputs from PTI)

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