His comments came on Tuesday (February 2), the day the Bengal pacer brought curtains down on his 16-year-long illustrious career.
Not everybody gets to play cricket for India, let alone feature in matches against arch-rivals Pakistan. And in a day and age when the two nations meet only at ICC events, Ashoke Dinda played three ODIs and two T20Is against them. Quizzed about the experience, the 36-year-old revealed the contrast in the players’ personalities before and after games.
“Players from both nations catch up with each other after the match. But while on the field, they act as if they don’t know their compatriots. This is one thing which I really liked about India-Pakistan contests,” Ashoke Dinda, who picked 420 wickets at a strike-rate of 54.7 in 116 first-class matches, exclusively told Sportskeeda.
People have often compared the rivalry between India and Pakistan to that of the Ashes, one of the most iconic cricket rivalries between Australia and England. Ashoke Dinda, however, went a step further and drew parallels with wars.
“It was a different experience. Since childhood, I have seen India-Pakistan matches as really feisty and competitive encounters. And here, I have played quite a few matches against Pakistan. It is a different experience, different ball game altogether, different one-on-one contests, going into India-Pakistan matches feel like going to war. No team wants to lose, hence a different motivation seeps into the entire squad,” Ashoke Dinda explained.
While he had dismissed centurion Mohammad Hafeez and Hammad Azam during the 2012 Asia Cup in Bangladesh, his third ODI wicket and four T20I wickets against Pakistan came on home soil in 2012-13. Notably, his last ever T20I was against Pakistan in Ahmedabad, where we returned with figures of 3/36 from 4 overs.
“I have many friends from the Pakistan team” – Ashoke Dinda
There was a smile on Ashoke Dinda’s face while talking about his friendship with Pakistan cricketers. Pakistan players might have featured in just a solitary IPL season back in 2008, but Ashoke Dinda had forged quite a bond with those in the Kolkata Knight Riders dressing room, and the relationships have grown over the years.
“I have many friends from the Pakistan team. Mohammad Hafeez knows me really well, we are good friends. Players who played for the Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2008 like Salman Butt, Umar Gul, Shoaib Akhtar, everybody knows me. In fact, while playing for India, I used to interact with Shahid Afridi as well,” Ashoke Dinda told Sportskeeda.
Apart from being Bengal’s second-highest wicket-taker in first-class cricket, Ashoke Dinda finished with 29 international wickets across 13 ODIs and 9 T20Is, and 69 wickets from 78 IPL matches.