Former India pacer Ashish Nehra revealed that Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar helped him in getting tickets for the India vs Pakistan clash in semi-finals of the ICC World Cup 2011. The tickets were in high demand and Nehra wanted to secure some extra for his family members.
The game was played in the PCA Stadium in Mohali and given that the arch-rivals were meeting in a knock out clash, the tickets for the match were sold out in a matter of minutes.
“Two-three days before that match, nobody knew that India and Pakistan would meet in the semifinals,” Nehra said on Wisden’s The Greatest Rivalry podcast.
“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.”
Politicians from both the countries, including the then India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan's PM Yousaf Raza Gillani had attended the match. There was very less room available in the hotel and even ex-India cricketer and a member of the BCCI selection panel at that time Kris Srikkanth couldn't get one.
“With the Pakistan delegation coming and a lot of tourists, who were staying in the Mount View hotel, left their rooms to go out and when they come back in the evening, their luggage was packed and kept outside their rooms and the hotel management told them that you have been checked out of the hotel, the money has been transferred back to your account … because the whole hotel has been taken by Mr [Yousaf Raza] Gillani and his team. I still remember India selector at the time, Kris Srikkanth, entering the Taj hotel in Chandigarh and there were no rooms for him,” Nehra added.
Nehra picked up 2/33 as India defeated Pakistan by 29 runs, in what proved to be his final ODI for India. He picked up an injury during this match and didn't play in the final against Sri Lanka, which India won to lift the World Cup trophy for the second time after 1983 win.
“Great game for India, pressure game, electric atmosphere as always but the amazing thing was that people were standing outside the hotel and they didn’t even have tickets,” Nehra said.
“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.”