“I had told Ganguly later that our plan was to target you in the ribs and not get you out,” Akhtar reiterated
The build-up to the much-anticipated India-Pakistan clash in the forthcoming Asia Cup is gaining momentum. In the next few weeks, both sides are confirmed to play two matches in the Asia Cup, may play another if they qualify for the finals, and then will face each other again in the ICC T20I World Cup in Australia.
Star Sports, the official broadcasters of the series, has released a new series ‘Frenemies’, where cricketers from both nations sit down and reminisce about iconic moments from this rivalry. In the latest episode, Virender Sehwag and Shoaib Akhtar are seen in conversation, where the latter talks about his deadly spell from the 1999 Mohali ODI.
During the sixth match of the Pepsi Cup 1998/99, Akhtar was advised by his team to target Sourav Ganguly on his ribs. The plan was to let Akhtar go berserk, while the rest of the bowling unit would focus on taking wickets.
‘We had decided to target Ganguly on his ribs. In our team meeting, it was discussed how I will try to hit batters. I had asked then, “Do I not dismiss them?’ but they said, ‘No. You have a lot of pace. You just try to hit the batters and we will take care of the wickets,” Akhtar revealed.
In the fourth over, a short-pitched delivery angling in towards Ganguly hit him on the chest. He had to leave the ground instantly, but returned after some time, and scored a valiant half-century. His innings finally came to and on 57, via Shahid Nazir. Robin Singh’s 42 was the next highest score of the innings as India was floored out for 197.
Pakistan, despite losing three early wickets to Venkatesh Prasad, romped on to the target, courtesy of an unbeaten 163-run stand between Inzamam-ul-Haq and Ijaz Ahmed.
When Sehwag joked that Ganguly must be listening to this interview, the Pakistani tearaway responded, “I had told Ganguly later that our plan was to target you in the ribs and not get you out.”
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