Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly has revealed that spinner Harbhajan Singh and ex-Pakistan batsman Mohammad Yousuf had to be separated during their World Cup clash in 2003.
Coming into the match, India had won four of their five games, while Pakistan were struggling as they had only won two of their four matches.
While India and Pakistan generally keep their rivalry on the pitch, Ganguly explained in his autobiography, A Century Is Not Enough, how tensions spilled off the field on this occasion.
“For all the fun off the field, playing Pakistan was always a charged affair — not just in Pakistan and India but in all neutral venues, be it Sharjah, Toronto, Australia, Sri Lanka or South Africa,” Ganguly wrote as quoted by CricketCountry. “Every time you played them you noticed something was different. It was always eventful. But during my five-year captaincy career it is the incident at the Centurion in South Africa that remains one of the highlights for me.
“A scuffle had taken place between Harbhajan Singh and Yousuf Youhana in the common lunch arena. I did not know what led to the fight. But the scene was getting out of control and senior members of both the teams had to finally separate them.
“An Indo-Pak tie was always just that little bit extra tense. So the atmosphere was already heated. It also did not help matters that unlike other South African grounds the dressing rooms of the two teams were too close for comfort.”
Rashid Latif, who had been Pakistan’s wicketkeeper during the 2003 World Cup, also shared his thoughts on the incident when speaking to the Sun Herald: “In the 2003 World Cup Harbhajan had a run-in with Mohammad Yousuf at Centurion. He wanted to fight after Yousuf made a comment.
“It was just a joke but he took it seriously. He has a short temper. He needs to control his emotions. He is a good guy but he has some kind of problem with his temper.”
When appearing on the talk show, Aap ki Adalat, Harbhajan opened up on what occurred.
“It was a match which I did not play and I had an argument with Pakistani player Yousuf Youhana during [the] lunch break,” Harbhajan said. “It was a one-on-one kind of a situation. After India won the match, I got really excited and started dancing there along with several fans who had come to watch the match from India.”