Whether it’s the cricket ground or beyond it, India and Pakistan share a fractious relation in nearly every walk of life. The intensity of rivalries, especially in cricket, often hides the compassion, mutual respect and empathy these players carry for each other.
In one such instance, former Indian speedster Ashish Nehra revealed in his recent interview that when all doors were closed, it was Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar who helped the Indian secure extra tickets for his family members, ahead of the semifinal clash vs Pakistan at the 2011 World Cup.
In Wisden’s The Greatest Rivalry podcast, the former pacer recalled that tickets were already sold-out with fans coming from every nook and corner to watch the high-voltage clash.
“Two-three days before that match, nobody knew that India and Pakistan would meet in the semifinals,” Nehra said. “Everything happened very quickly, in 72 hours, everyone came to know that Pakistan is facing India in World Cup semifinals. And I have not seen anything like that.”
“There were not too many five-star hotels in Chandigarh, there was one Mount View hotel and teams were staying in Taj. And I had seen people coming from America or England, you just name it, and they didn’t have tickets.”
Nehra remarked even the then Indian team selector Kris Srikkanth was unable to find a room for himself.
“I still remember India selector at the time, Kris Srikkanth, entering the Taj hotel in Chandigarh and there were no rooms for him.”
The Delhi-lad reached out to Afridi for at least two tickets and instead got four, two each from Afridi and Akhtar.
“I was the lucky one, to be very honest, because I got a few extra tickets from the Pakistan camp. I told Shahid Afridi that I need two tickets, sort it out. Then I got two tickets from him and two tickets from Shoaib Akhtar. Waqar Younis was the coach, so maybe, out of the 30 players, I had the most number of tickets,” Nehra added.