Waqar Younis recalls incident when Inzamam stood up for Azharruddin and confronted abusive fan in 1997
Remember the sight of Inzamam Ul Haq going into the crowd and confronting an abusive fan in the 1997 Sahara Cup? Well, turns out there was more to the infamous story than Inzamam getting riled up for being called “aaloo” (potato). Waqar Younis, Inzamam’s former Pakistan teammate has revealed that besides the “aaloo” chants, what really infuriated Inzamam were some inappropriate comments directed towards Mohammad Azharuddin’s wife.
In the second match of the series, Inzamam, while fielding near the boundary, entered the crowd and got into a scuffle with a spectator of Indian origin. After being escorted back to the ground, Inzamam grabbed a bat and went after the spectator again, almost connecting with his wild swing. However, as Waqar revealed, it was Inzamam standing up for Azharuddin because of which the former batsman decided to take matters into his own hands.
“Yes, there was someone calling him ‘aaloo’. But also, what exactly happened [was that] there was someone in the crowd who was not very good to Azharuddin’s wife – I think they were just talking some rubbish – and Inzi being Inzi, he didn’t really like it. And as I was mentioning, the friendship off the field between these two teams’ players was outstanding, it was amazing, they had a lot of respect for each other,” Waqar said on ‘The Greatest Rivalry’ podcast.
Waqar revealed Inzamam’s act stemmed from the friendship he and the rest of the Pakistan players shared with each other. Inzamam, who usually used to field in the slips, Waqar said, had been paying attention to the chants and asked permission to change his fielding position. Things escalated though when he asked the 12th man to get a bat and that is where Waqar and the rest of the Pakistan team realised what was going on.
“You know we used to play hard on the field, but when it comes to the friendship, we used to really look out for each-others’ back,” Waqar said.
“And what happened [was] because someone was really being rude to Azza’s wife and Inzi just, I don’t know what happened to be very honest, he just decided, he asked, I think Saleem Malik was captain [Ramiz Raja was the Pakistan skipper], he asked Saleem to move him to that fine-leg third-man region, and that’s where he went. And he just asked for the 12th man to bring the bat, and he just gave it to him, and he just ran up the stairs in the scaffolding and brought it down.”
Inzamam was banned for two ODIs for the incident but Waqar revealed the biggest takeaway from the incident was how India and Pakistan’s players had each other’s back despite sharing the fiercest of rivalries on the field.
“Inzi had to suffer, Inzi had to apologise and they went to court for that particular incident and Azhar had to come out, which was very nice of Azharuddin, who had to come out and talk to that Indian guy, the guy was Indian I think, and talk to him and sort out that issue out of the court,” the former Pakistan quick said.
“It was sad and it was ugly what happened, but what I’m trying to say here, is you know when it comes to watching each other’s back, both teams have people or players who really love each other’s company.”