Former India spinner Harbhajan Singh has revealed that ex-Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar had asked him to arrange tickets for the 2011 World Cup semi-final, played between the two arch-rivals played in Mohali.
Amid a lot of anticipation, India had faced Pakistan in the semis at a jam-packed IS Bindra Stadium. Riding on legendary Sachin Tendulkar’s 85 and Suresh Raina’s 36-run cameo, the home team posted 260/9 in 50 overs.
Defending the total, Indian fast bowlers and spinners bowled amazingly well to bundle out Pakistan for 231 to secure a final berth.
Harbhajan, who recorded the figures of 2/43 in his 10 overs, recalled Akhtar’s request for tickets in the semi-final and further said that the Pakistani pacer came to ask for tickets for the final as well, which was eventually played between India and Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
"When Akhtar met me, he said: 'There's a lot of pressure but not about the match. It's about getting tickets'. He told me that his family was coming from Pakistan and I agreed to arrange a couple of tickets for him. Thereafter, he asked me if I can get him tickets for the next match (final) as well. I asked him 'you're going to Mumbai?' to which he responded 'yes, that's where the final is'," said Harbhajan on Star Sports ahead of the Asia Cup 2022.
"I laughed and avoided his request but wondered 'why is he so confident?'. But I saw the next day that he (Shoaib) wasn't even playing the semi-final. I arranged a ticket but it wasn't for the final. I booked one for Lahore," he quipped.
Team India had defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets in the final to lift the coveted 2011 World Cup title. Former opener Gautam Gambhir and then captain MS Dhoni were the heroes in the summit clash as they scored 97 and 91* respectively while chasing the stiff target of 275.