Former Indian paceman Ashish Nehra recalled the time when Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar hurled a sledge at him in Punjabi. Ashish Nehra is one of the best pacers produced by the nation and expertly handled the new-ball bowling attack for a long time. The Delhi-born cricketer was also part of the squad that lifted the World Cup in 2011. On the other hand, Shoaib Akhtar was one of the fastest bowlers to have played and had the reputation of engaging with other cricketers in verbal face-offs.
The incident dates back to the 2004 Champions Trophy when India and Pakistan squared off in a marquee game in Birmingham. Shoaib Akhtar was the pick of the bowlers for his side, bagging four wickets to bowl out the opposition for 200. Rahul Dravid’s 67 was the highlight while pace bowler Ajit Agarkar assisted him with 47.
Mohammad Yousuf’s 81 scripted a tight three-wicket victory for the men in green. Ashish Nehra stated that it was the 2004 Champions Trophy when they scored 200 runs. Nehra recalled being the last man when the Rawalpindi Express fired a short-pitched delivery. The batsman tried to play a pull shot but got caught at mid-wicket. Akhtar told Nehra in Punjabi “before you pull, you should know who you’re facing,”
“In 2004 we were playing Champions Trophy game in Birmingham. India batted first and we scored some 200 runs. We lost that game in the end. I was the last guy out and Shoaib Akhtar bowled one short ball. I tried to pull it and got out caught at mid-wicket. Shahid Afridi took the catch and then he’s telling me in Punjabi ‘before you pull, you should know who you’re facing,” Ashish Nehra said on Wisden’s Greatest Rivalry podcast.
“Shoaib Akhtar is a great friend, no doubt about it” : Ashish Nehra
Amid that, the 41-year old admitted that the former Pakistan speedster is his good friend. Nehra added that whenever the pair is in England, they message each other and the banter continues between them. Both have retired from international cricket currently. Shoaib Akhtar runs a Youtube channel while Ashish Nehra has involved himself in various coaching roles.
“Shoaib Akhtar is a great friend, no doubt about it. Whenever we’re in England and even till today. After 3-4 months, we message each other and a banter is going on,” the retired cricketer added.