Pakistani all-rounder Shoaib Malik delivered a wrong 'un on Sunday afternoon. It was not on the pitch but at the Taj Hotel where he was staying. It was not against any of the teams playing the Champions Trophy, but at this correspondent wielding, not the willow, but a dictaphone.
This correspondent approached Ranjit Bajaj, the liaison officer with the Pakistan team, for an interview with Malik. Bajaj darted into Malik's room and returned with a message - the cricketer wanted to be paid $500 (Rs 22,000) for it.
Stumped, this correspondent decided to ask Malik himself.
Television channels are known to dole out huge sums of money to cricketers for "exclusives", but there have only been rumours so far about players seeking payment for interviews from the print media.
Prompt came Malik's reply, "Paise ke begair koi baat nahi hogi bhaijaan (No conversation without money being paid)." Asked how much he would settle for, he sought $500 once more for a "comprehensive" interview.
This correspondent dropped the idea of interviewing Malik, but the cricketer would not relent. The offer was made again in the evening at the football ground where the Pakistan team was practising. While mediapersons waited, Bajaj again said Malik was available for a one-on-one for $500. He added Malik would address a full press conference if journalists shelled out $1,500. Was any one interested? No one said yes.
But journalists wondered uneasily for a while if Waqar Younis, Pakistan bowling coach, who had agreed to chat with the media, would also demand money. Thankfully, Younis did not.