'We were ready to attack each other': Harbhajan narrates ugly incident with Mohammed Yousuf

India veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh made some shocking revelations about a high-voltage clash he had with Pakistan’s Mohammed Yousuf during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.

Photo: AFP

Indian cricketers have always shared a cordial relationship with their Pakistani counterparts but it seems that there are always some exceptions, maybe because of the extreme pressure of the battle between the two arch-rivals.

India veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh made a shocking revelation about a high-voltage clash he had with Pakistan’s Mohammed Yousuf during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa. The drama took place 16 years back at Centurion and was so tense that it required intervention from legendary Wasim Akram, Rahul Dravid and Javagal Srinath to separate them.

Singh laughed about the incident but admitted that the fight got so ugly that both Harbhajan and Yousuf were ready to tear into each other with forks in their hands.

So what exactly 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 told PTI during a chat.

"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.

But things weren't as humorous when it happened.

"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."

"It's 16 years now. Now when I meet Yousuf, we both have a good laugh about it."

Harbhajan, one of the finest spinners the country has seen, further said that pressure was immense during the 2011 World Cup semi-final.

He had played a big role in Mohali with crucial breakthroughs.

"That match was different. People thought now is the time Law of Averages will catch up. Mohali is my home ground and everyone wanted us to just win, fans, the media, the hype was insane," he recalled.