'Dhoni told me, 'Bhajju pa, aap...': Harbhajan reveals never-heard-before story from India vs Pakistan 2011 WC tie

Updated on Aug 14, 2022 07:13 PM IST

The former India off-spinner shares a never-heard-before story about the side's tie against Pakistan in the 2011 World Cup.

Team India players during 2011 World Cup(Getty)
Team India players during 2011 World Cup(Getty)

Team India's campaign in the 2011 World Cup has often been revisited by fans and former cricketers alike. Under MS Dhoni's captaincy, India lifted the World Cup title for only the second time in their history, and gave a perfect farewell to batting great Sachin Tendulkar, for whom the 2011 edition was the last of his six World Cup appearances. En route to their WC-winning campaign, India had defeated defending champions Australia in the quarter-final; however, one of their most memorable wins came in the next round when they took on arch-rivals Pakistan in Mohali.

Tendulkar shined with the bat during the game, scoring 85 off 115 deliveries as India put a competitive score of 260/9. In the run-chase, Pakistan lost early wickets but regained stronghold when captain Misbah-ul-Haq began to forge a rather dangerous-looking stand with Umar Akmal. Then a 21-year-old youngster, Akmal looked in great touch as he raced to 28 off 24 balls, smashing a four and two sixes during the knock.

It was then, when captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni came up with a suggestion for spinner Harbhajan Singh. The former India off-spinner has revealed what Dhoni told him, following which Harbhajan picked a wicket on the very first ball of his next over.

“It was one of those games where I felt I was getting a bit numb. I had bowled five overs, conceded around 26-27 runs. It was a water break, and Dhoni told me, 'Bhajju pa, aap vahan se daaloge' (around the wicket). Kamran (Umar) was playing good, so was Misbah. And they were scoring runs and the partnership was getting dangerous,” said Harbhajan as he recalled the moment on Star Sports' Dil se India.

“So I came to bowl, I remembered god. I just prayed for a win. And god did listen to me. On the very first ball, I got the wicket of Kamran (Umar) Akmal as I bowled around the wicket. He completely missed the ball.”

Following Akmal's wicket, Pakistan's batting order crumbled as the side lost their star all-rounder duo of Abdul Razzaq (3) and Shahid Afridi (19) cheaply. Misbah (56) led the lone fight but it wasn't enough for the Men in Green in the end, as the side was bowled out on 231 in 49.5 overs.

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