Srinagar, Aug 1: Despite being himself part of the highly anticipated cricket match then, India’s Ashish Nehra was struggling to secure some tickets of the match for his close ones. As nothing worked the help came from the archrival camp with Pakistan cricketers arranging the tickets of the 2011 Cricket World Cup semifinal for India cricketer.
On the Wisden’s The Greatest Rivalry podcast Nehra revealed that it was Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi and pacer Shoaib Akhtar who gave him extra tickets of 2011 Cricket World Cup semifinal between India and Pakistan.
“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, ” Nehra said.
Nehra explained how the atmosphere was palpable and that people all over the world, had crowded the city of Chandigarh hoping to see the semifinal, but such was the popularity of the game that innumerable people ended without tickets and had to return.
“Two-three days before that match, nobody knew that India and Pakistan would meet in the semifinals,” Nehra said 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.”
“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.
“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 pointed out.
(With inputs from HT Sports)