Cricket fans around the world are eagerly waiting to see the top eight teams of the world fight it out when the ICC Champions Trophy begins on June 1 in England but there is no denying that majority of them are waiting for June 4 when two of the fiercest rivals in the game will square off against each other.
Fourth of June is the day when India and Pakistan kick off their campaign by taking on each other at Edgbaston. Both the teams have rarely played against each other in the last decade or so due to the escalating political tensions and the ICC tournaments are the only stage when the fans get a chance to see the arch-rivals locking horns.
This will be their first meeting since India defeated Pakistan in World T20 last year and there is absolutely no doubt that the fixture will be as absorbing as any Indo-Pak match in the past. Players from both the sides will be under immense pressure to win the mother of all matches in cricket and there is no denying that emotions will run high when they fight it out to secure the bragging rights of this fixture. Over the years, the fixture has witnessed players from both the sides getting involved in heated altercations, giving rise to speculations that they don’t get along well at all.
However, speculations have been quashed by former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi who has claimed that despite the Indo-Pak fixture being one of the most fiercely-contested matches in world cricket, players from both the sides ‘get along very well’. But at the same time, he mentioned an exception in the form of Gautam Gambhir. The swashbuckling all-rounder revealed this in his column for the ICC.
“Contrary to popular belief, India and Pakistan players get along very well. Of course, there are exceptions like Gautam Gambhir, who dare I say isn’t the friendliest.” Afridi wrote in the column. “We are unlikely to be found together at a coffee shop anytime soon. We had a heated exchange on the field some years ago and it made headlines all over the world. While I have moved on in life as I feel these things are part and parcel of the game, Gautam for some reason can’t get over it. Good luck to him!”
Gambhir and Afridi were involved in an ugly spat in Kanpur during the third ODI of Pakistan’s tour of India in 2007. The spat had occurred when Gambhir tried to steal a single but in the process, he collided with Afridi, who did not hesitate from expressing his disappointment. On the other hand, Gambhir was also not ready to back down which led to a heated altercation between the two. With the matter getting out of hand, umpire Ian Gould was forced to play the peacemaker role.
Afridi further said that he shared a cordial relationship with the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh.
“While Gautam is clearly an exception, I have enjoyed excellent relationships with Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh. The three are one of my best mates and we have some wonderful memories together from the times when both the sides used to play and tour each other on a regular basis.”
Afridi also expressed his excitement to see a “highly entertaining match between the two traditional rivals, who have a rich cricketing history between them.”