Former India pacer Ashish Nehra has revealed how Pakistan players Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar helped him secure tickets for the semi-final between India and Pakistan in the 2011 World Cup. Nehra found it impossible to get the tickets for the Mohali match for his family, but both the Pakistani Players helped him.
“Two-three days before that match, nobody knew that India and Pakistan would meet in the semifinals,” Nehra said on Wisden’s The Greatest Rivalry 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.”
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Also there was a space crunch due to the high-voltage clash and the hotels had run out of rooms. He remembered even how Kris Srikkanth didn't seem to get a room.
“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.
India won the game rather comfortably by 29 runs and secured a place in the final against Sri Lanka.
“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.
“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.”