With excitement reaching the peak ahead of India vs Pakistan semifinal clash at the 2011 World Cup, it was Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar who proved helpful to Ashish Nehra when he was looking for some extra tickets.
In a recent podcast on Wisen’s ‘The Greatest Rivalry,’ Nehra revealed that with tickets sold out and people coming from all corners of the world to watch the thrilling clash, he turned to his Pakistan counterparts to bag a few extra tickets.
“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.”
It turned out to be Nehra’s final ODI match and he managed to claim 2/33, helping India reach the final by beating Pakistan by 29 runs. “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,” said Nehra.
Hoping to secure tickets for his friends and family so they could watch him feature in the 50-over format for one last time, Nehra asked Afridi for two tickets and instead got four from the Pakistan camp. “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, remembering the day.
“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.”
It was the fifth World Cup meeting between the two countries and India back then stretched their record to 5-0, which currently stands at 8-0.
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