HYDERABAD: For three legends from different eras, the Pavilion was a perfect rendezvous. They were stumped to say the least by the wide range of cricket memorabilia at PR Man Singh’s cricket museum in Secunderabad on Tuesday evening. They were transported to a different realm – awestruck by the inspiring collection. Pakistan’s stylish batsman Zaheer Abbas, 1983 World Cup hero Syed Kirmani and city’s own hero VVS Laxman were literally bowled over by the souvenirs that date back to more than 50 years ago. The museum has over 900 cassettes of cricketing action, autographed bats, ties and books.
“It is an amazing assemblage by a single person who is so passionate about the game,” said Abbas. The cricketers looked at various collections and went down memory lane. Abbas stood near the West Indies legend Gary Sobers’ portrait and said, “What an all-rounder! I had the privilege of having a big partnership with this great cricketer during the world series. He could tear apart any attack in the world,” reminisced Abbas.
He then spoke of the bonhomie between Indian and Pakistani cricketers. “We always cracked jokes and had a hearty laugh. Some of the Indian cricketers stayed at my home. It was pleasure to host them,” he recalled.
The wristy stylish batsman, whose majestic cover drives were of a different class, had even helped Mohammaed Azharuddin during India’s tour of Pakistan in 1989. The Hyderabadi batsman was nearly dropped from the eleven before a last-minute injury of late Raman Lamba helped him regain his place. “He came and told me that he was not getting the power in his drives. He was lost. I simply told him to change his grip and the rest is history. He scored 90 odd runs and never looked back. In fact, Azhar even suggested Lanka’s Aravinda de Silva to consult me when even he was in bad form,’’ said Zaheer with a smile.
The former Pakistani star, now the ICC president, said he never believed in defending. “I preferred to play strokes. I think Azhar and Laxman are wristy players like me.’’
Few people know that Zaheer Abbas and Sunil Gavaskar have something more in common besides cricket. Their in-laws are from Kanpur. “It is a lucky city for both Sunny and me, as we became captains of our respective teams after getting married to Kanpur girls,” he said.
Stumper Kirmani was perplexed but said he was not surprised with this collection as his `manager’ Man Singh was a great lover of the game. “He was the best manager. I feel Man Singh had a big role in the 1983 World Cup victory. He never interfered in the selections. He acted like a catalyst to the team. He was more of a father figure,” said Kirmani, adding that in the end they were all happy that being the fourth weakest team and underdogs they emerged champions. “Beating the mighty West Indies twice was the biggest moment. We showed that even the weakest team can win. Remember we had seven all-rounders in the team and that was the biggest advantage.’’
It was Laxman’s maiden visit to Man Singh’s museum. “It was real pleasure to see the collection of Man Singh sir. I would come again and read the books’’ wrote Laxman in the visitors book.
ACB director AK Khan, passionate lover of cricket, was transfixed when he saw the signed portrait of Sachin Tendulkar in his straight drive mood. “He is a great fan of Sachin,” said Man Singh.