In a stunning revelation, Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh narrated an ugly incident between him and Mohammed Yousuf, former Pakistan cricketer, which almost led to the two men indulging in a physical fight. Speaking to PTI, Harbhajan said that the episode occurred during the famous India vs Pakistan match in the 2003 World Cup at Johannesburg.
While that game is remembered most prominently for the blazing innings Sachin Tendulkar played against the likes of Shoaib Akhtar and Wasim Akram, there were fireworks away from the public eye also. As per the account of Bhajji, the confrontation took place at the lunch break, between the Pakistan and Indian innings.
"During the lunch time, I was sitting at one table and Yousuf and Shoaib Akhtar were at the other table right across in the common area. We both speak Punjabi and suddenly while we were pulling each other's legs he first made a personal comment and then remarked about my religion. I gave him a fitting reply. Before anyone realised we both had fork in our hands and got up from our chairs ready to attack each other," the star cricketer said.
He attributed his own aggression to frustration over not being selected in the playing XI. "I was dropped for that game and Anil (Kumble) bhai was playing because team management felt he was a better choice keeping in mind his good record against Pakistan. I was a bit down and it can happen when you aren't in the XI, the man with over 400 Test wickets explained.
Thankfully for the two men and their teams, both were restrained by the senior players of their respective sides. "Rahul (Dravid) and Sri (Javagal Srinath) stopped me while Wasim bhai and Saeed bhai took Yousuf away. The seniors in both sides were irritated and we were told that this is not the right behaviour."
Thankfully, the story ended there and there was no animosity that was left over as well. In fact, the offie said that the two are on good terms and remember the whole episode with humour. "It's 16 years now. Now when I meet Yousuf, we both have a good laugh about it," the veteran cricketer concluded.