Whenever arch-rivals India and Pakistan have faced each other there was always some room for banter and sledging. The two cricket crazy nations have given so many memorable matches in the past. In his recent interview former Indian all-rounder, Irfan Pathan recalled an incident where he along with the former Indian Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni sledged the ‘Rawalpindi Express’, Shoaib Akhtar.
It happened in Faisalabad in 2006 when India toured Pakistan. India was struggling at 281-5 and were 300 runs behind Pakistan’s first-innings total of 588. They also lost the precious wicket of Sachin Tendulkar. Dhoni who was then playing just his 5th test match came into bat after the fall of Sachin’s wicket. He along with Pathan had to form a strong partnership to steady the Indian innings. The main threat for that was Shoaib Akhtar, who was at the peak of his form. He was bowling consistently at about 150+ and the Indian batsmen found it difficult to face him.
“When I was coming out to bat, Akhtar was bowling at a rapid pace of 150-160 kph,” recalled Pathan. “I went down and joined Dhoni and asked how’s the pitch is behaving, he responded by saying, ‘nothing much, you just bat’.
“I faced Akhtar’s first ball, and it was a bouncer … couldn’t even see the ball. Somehow we tried to negate his spell. We tried building our partnership and after some time, Akhtar again came for a new spell.
As things started getting out of control, Irfan decided to sledge Shoaib to disrupt his momentum. He asked Dhoni to laugh at him to pressurise Akhtar.
“Akhtar was sledging. I told Dhoni, ‘I will sledge Akhtar and you just laugh at him’. Dhoni agreed to it. Akhtar continued sledging us, and the ball started to reverse.
“That was the time, I sledged Akhtar saying, ‘Will you be able to bowl with the same intensity in the next spell?’. Akhtar responded angrily, saying, ‘you talk too much’. He somehow completed that spell and that was how we drew that Test.”
They later added 210 runs for the sixth wicket to help India secure a much-needed draw.
Twist of Fate
Both of them went on to play many more matches for India across all three formats. One year later after this incident, Pathan went onto win the ICC T20 world cup under the captaincy of MS Dhoni. He was also the man of the match in that final which was coincidently against Pakistan.
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