Colombo, Sept. 17 -- Those trying to understand why India-Pakistan matches take an entirely different hue should have observed the atmosphere at the R Premadasa Stadium before the warm-up game.
Though they hardly play against each other, and despite their acrimonious history, there exists a special bond between the players.
None of the other teams greet each other as much as India-Pakistan players.
A lot of the warm-up time on Monday was spent catching up with each other. Before walking out for the toss, captains MS Dhoni and Mohammad Hafeez met near the boundary line and finalised their own rules for the game, chatting coolly as they headed for the centre of the pitch.
When former Pakistan bowling great Wasim Akram entered the arena, he immediately sought out Yuvraj Singh for a chat, enquiring about his health.
Akram and Harbhajan then greeted each other with a warm hug before Kolkata Knight Riders players Manoj Tiwary and L Balaji jogged upto their IPL team's bowling coach.
When former India captain Sourav Ganguly went for the pitch report, Hafeez went across and engaged him in a long chat, reviving their KKR connections from the inaugural IPL edition.
Pakistan all-rounder Abdul Razzaq was jogging at the boundary but when he saw Ganguly, he immediately stopped to exchange greetings.
The handshakes continued into the first over of the game. Irfan Pathan was going for a hit in the nets but on seeing Umar Gul at the third man boundary, stopped to shake hands.
It was interesting to see the camaraderie take a backseat in the heat of the battle. In the 18th over, a beamer from Mohammad Sami almost took Virat Kohli's head.
In the next over, spinner Saeed Ajmal gave Rohit Sharma a send-off after bowling him. Talk of normal service being restored!
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.