'I booked one for Lahore': Harbhajan's sassy reply to Akhtar's 'do you have tickets' request before 2011 WC semi-final
The two countries may rekindle their cricket rivalry time and again but off the field, many players have always maintained great relationships. Along with the spirit and camaraderie comes a little bit of leg-pulling too.
"Dhoni finishes off in style. A magnificent strike into the crowd! India lift the World Cup after 28 years!" said Ravi Shastri as MS Dhoni smashed a six against Nuwan Kulasekara in the 2011 World Cup final. The Wankhede crowd was on its feet after witnessing India become world champions after almost three decades. Dhoni's hit, which followed a wave of celebration, still reverberates in the ears of every supporter who was glued to the TV set on April 2, 2011.
But before facing Sri Lanka in the summit clash, India locked horns with Pakistan in the semi-final. It was India who advanced further with a 29-run win over their western neighbours. The two countries may rekindle their cricket rivalry time and again but off the field, many players have always maintained great relationships. Along with the spirit and camaraderie comes a little bit of leg-pulling too.
Former India spinner Harbhajan Singh has narrated his exchange with Shoaib Akhtar where the Pakistan star asked him to arrange tickets for the semi-final. The 'Rawalpindi Express' further demanded tickets for Mumbai – the venue of the tournament final. In response, Harbhajan had a befitting response up his sleeve.
"When Akhtar met me, he said: 'There's a lot of pressure but not about the match. It's about getting tickets'. He told me that his family was coming from Pakistan and I agreed to arrange a couple of tickets for him. Thereafter, he asked me if I can get him tickets for the next match (final) as well. I asked him 'you're going to Mumbai?' to which he responded 'yes, that's where the final is'," said Harbhajan on Star Sports ahead of the Asia Cup 2022.
"I laughed and avoided his request but wondered 'why is he so confident?'. But I saw the next day that he (Shoaib) wasn't even playing the semi-final. I arranged a ticket but it wasn't for the final. I booked one for Lahore," he quipped.
The upcoming Asia Cup will be held in the 20-over format in Dubai and Sharjah from August 27 to September 11. Arch-rivals India and Pakistan begin their campaign with the highly-anticipated clash against each other on August 28.
Defending champions India are the most successful team, having won the trophy on seven occasions. The six-team tournament will have Virat Kohli returning to world cricket following a brief break. The out-of-form batter was rested for the recent tour of the West Indies and has not scored an international century in any format since 2019.
India's squad also features KL Rahul, who comes in after missing all of India's fixtures since the end of this year's IPL. Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, however, will miss the competition as he is reported to be suffering from back spasms and undergoing rehab at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore.