‘We all wore them later’: Aakash Chopra recalls when Inzamam-ul-Haq gifted t-shirts to India team in Multan during 2004 series
India and Pakistan have shared a heated rivalry on the cricket field for several years. But behind the doors, players from both the teams have enjoyed a great camaraderie with each other. In a recent interview with Pak Passion, veteran allrounder Shoaib Malik had talked about his friendship with former India batsman Yuvraj Singh. And now, former India cricketer Aakash Chopra has opened up on his friendship with Pakistan bowling legend Shoaib Akhtar.
While Pakistan cricketers are no longer allowed to play in the Indian Premier League, it was not true at one stage. The players from the neighbouring nation were a part of the teams in the inaugural season of IPL in 2008, and at the time, Chopra played alongside Akhtar, Umar Gul, Salman Butt and Mohammad Hafeez for KKR.
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On being asked about the camaraderie between India and Pakistan players while playing for KKR by Pakistan broadcaster Sawera Pasha on her Youtube channel Cric Cast, Chopra said: “Actually, we were really good friends. Shoaib Akhtar and I are still really good friends. I still speak to him for hours. Whenever I am on a call for a few hours, my wife knows that I am speaking to Shoaib, and they are just having a long chat.”
“Shoaib and I have a really great bond because he came here and worked with me for Star Sports, so we spent really good time together. We travelled together, we sat for dinner together, we had long conversations. During IPL as well, we had a great bond. We had Mohammad Hafeez, Salman Butt and Umar Gul in our team. We never felt even once that there was any sort of tension. There was no issue between any players,” he added.
Chopra, who was part of the India squad that travelled to Pakistan in 2004, recalled when former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq gifted t-shirts to the Indian Cricket Team.
“I don’t think there has ever been any issues between the two teams. I remember when we came to Pakistan for the series in 2004. In Multan, Inzy bhai (Inzamam ul-haq) has his house. As far as I recall, he also had a garment factory where t-shirts were made. He came and gave us all a bundle of t-shirts. We all wore it later,” Chopra said.
“If you talk just about players, and leave everything aside, there has never been an issue and there will never be an issue. We all are players, we all know each other, we play cricket, this is our work, so there is no reason for a fight,” he further added.