Inzamam-ul-Haq stood up when a fan abused Mohammad Azharruddin’s wife in 1997: Waqar Younis
The cricketing rivalry between India and Pakistan might be the most fierce in the world but the cultural similarities between the people of the two nations have seen the players get along with each other easily off the field. Though there are many incidents of tempers flowing on the cricket field whenever Indo-Pak cricket is being talked about, former Pakistan pacer Waqar Younis shared a heartening tale of friendship where Inzamam-ul-Haq stood up for former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin back in 1997.
Recalling an incident from a 1997 Indo-Pak cricket match where chants of ‘aaloo, aaloo’ were being made towards Inzamam. While Inzi kept his nerves calm to those chants, it was when a fan from the crowd abused Azharuddin’s wife, that the Pakistani batsman is said to have lost his cool.
“Yes, there was someone calling him ‘aaloo’. But also, what exactly happened [was that] there was someone in the crowd who was not very good to Azharuddin’s wife – I think they were just talking some rubbish – and Inzi being Inzi, he didn’t really like it. And as I was mentioning, the friendship off the field between these two teams’ players was outstanding, it was amazing, they had a lot of respect for each other,” Waqar revealed while talking on ‘The Greatest Rivalry’ podcast.
Waqar cited the incident as a great example of the camaraderie Indian and Pakistani cricketers had off the field. While it was an Indian cricketer’s family which was being abused by a fan, it was a Pakistani cricketer who decided to stand up and confront the fan.
“You know we used to play hard on the field, but when it comes to the friendship, we used to really look out for each-others’ back,” Waqar said.
“And what happened [was] because someone was really being rude to Azza’s wife and Inzi just, I don’t know what happened to be very honest, he just decided, he asked, I think Saleem Malik was captain (in reality, Ramiz Raja was the Pakistan skipper), he asked Saleem to move him to that fine-leg third-man region, and that’s where he went. And he just asked for the 12th man to bring the bat, and he just gave it to him, and he just ran up the stairs in the scaffolding and brought it down.”
The incident saw Inzamam-ul-Haq being reprimanded for his actions. The Pakistani cricketer was suspended for two ODIs for the altercation with the fan. Inzi even had to visit the court for what happened but Azharuddin came out to help sort the matter out of the court.
“Inzi had to suffer, Inzi had to apologise and they went to court for that particular incident and Azhar had to come out, which was very nice of Azharuddin, who had to come out and talk to that Indian guy, the guy was Indian I think, and talk to him and sort out that issue out of the court,” the former Pakistan quick said.
“It was sad and it was ugly what happened, but what I’m trying to say here, is you know when it comes to watching each other’s back, both teams have people or players who really love each other’s company.”
While there’s no denying the friendship between some of the current and former Indo-Pak cricketers, as far as the on-field matters are concerned, the players of the two teams hardly play against each other due to the political tensions between the two countries.