December 13, 2019
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Gentleman Latif

Gentleman Latif
I imagined that a delicate moment for me would be breaking ice with Pakistani skipper Rashid Latif. I had last met him in July in London, where he had given me an explosive interview about the nexus between subcontinental cricketers and bookies. He had subsequently sent in facsimiled denials to a few cricketers regarding the interview. It turned out that I had been needlessly worried. Latif is probably the most gentlemanly cricketer around. He doesn't get easily hassled. Whether the Benson & Hedges that he chainsmokes have got something to do with that, I don't know. But Latif was effusive in the first meeting we had—breakfast at Sonargaon Hotel. Later I had several chats with him in his room, some extending late into the night. Currently, he is toying with the idea of writing a book about his cricketing experiences.Obviously, if he gets down to doing so, there might be some very embarrassed cricketers. The night before the final he said to me: "Kal Ganguly ka wicket jaldi mil jai to maja aa jaye. Ye wicket pe ruk jata hai to nak mein dam kar deta hai (it would be great if we get Ganguly's wicket fast. Once he gets stuck, he can be trouble)." I wasn't impressed. I thought Sachin Tendulkar would be Pakistan's main danger man. I said so. He kept quiet. But in my last meeting with him at Dhaka, after India's victory, he had a very 'I told you so' approach. He also presented me with his bat, a birthday gift.
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