The rivalry you know, the friendships you don’t

While India-Pakistan cricket encounters might ride high on tension, life outside the field has been quite different for the players. Former cricketers from the two sides, who played each other often in the last decade, relive their memorable moments – on and off the field.
There have been a lot of interesting India-Pakistan matches that I’ve been a part of, whether it’s the 2003 world cup game in Centurion when Sachin Tendulkar batted superbly, or the 2011 world cup semis. But outside of the world cups, the 2004 series was very special. India were touring Pakistan after a really long time. It was a brilliant series, can never forget that. I will put it at par with the world cups. Whether it was Lahore or Rawalpindi, you could see Indian flags everywhere. The Pakistanis had taken very good care of the Indian fans who had travelled to watch the matches there.
Off the field, the Pakistani players liked to joke a lot, and had a lot of pranksters in the team. We used to play pranks on Naved ul Hasan. He didn’t have hair earlier, so we used to keep pulling his leg when he got them back. “Rana ji, kaha se baal lagwa ke aaye ho?”There are a lot of hilarious moments that I can’t share. Shoaib Akhtar, in specific, was very mischievous. I have spent a lot of time with him and enjoyed my time. When we toured Pakistan, he had invited us home for a meal in Rawalpindi and even taken us around the city.Mohammad Yousuf was another player with whom I spent a lot of time and shared jokes, whenever we have played against them. Our bonding also improved when we had gone to South Africa to play Asia XI vs Africa XI, where Inzamam ul Haq was our captain.I got along well with everyone but there were certain players in their side that I bonded really well with – Arshad Khan, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik. Since I can also speak a bit of Punjabi, I have had a lot of good time with them. Harbhajan used to bond really well with these guys.