India vs Pakistan, ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: Harbhajan Singh recounts ugly spat with Mohammad Yousuf in 2003

Harbhajan Singh recounts an ugly incident with Mohammad Yousuf during the 2003 World Cup that irked senior players.
India vs Pakistan, ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: Harbhajan Singh recounts ugly spat with Mohammad Yousuf in 2003India vs Pakistan, ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: Harbhajan Singh recounts ugly spat with Mohammad Yousuf in 2003
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Ahead of India's much awaited clash with Pakistan on Sunday, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh recounts an incident with Mohammad Yousuf that turned ugly. The two players were ready to tear into each other with forks in their hands after a joke went too far during the 2003 World Cup.

The spinner laughed about the incident that took place 16 years ago at Centurion, but admitted that the spat had gotten so ugly at one point that Rahul Dravid, Javagal Srinath and Wasim Akram had to step in to douse flames. 

The game will forever be remembered for Sachin Tendulkar's knock of 98, but Bhajji remembers the game for the off-field incident. The Pakistanis had set India a target of 270, and there was considerable pressure on the Indians. 

So what really happened?

"It started with a joke but then got ugly. I was dropped for that game and Anil bhai (Kumble) 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," Harbhajan stated. 

"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," said Harbhajan.

"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," he laughed.

However, things had turned so ugly that Dravid and Srinath had to pull away Bhajji, while Akrma and Saeed had to take Yousuf away. 

"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."

He did, however, state that he shares some good friendships with various Pakistani cricketers but also admitted that once the ropes were crossed, all cordial feelings tend to evaporate. 

"I have good friendship with Shahid and Shoaib (Akhtar). We have hung out together, had meals. We spoke the same language, our preference of food, music lot of things are common.

"But yes, once you cross that boundary rope, friendship does take a back seat," he signed off.

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