Anxious night for India stars
HARBHAJAN Singh has warned India’s stars to expect a sleepless night ahead of their World Cup showdown with arch rivals Pakistan.
India legend Harbhajan knows from bitter experience just how stressful it is to take part in one of the most fierce rivalries in world sport.
The tense political situation between India and Pakistan lends an extra level of animosity whenever the feuding neighbours clash on the cricket pitch.
Tonight’s meeting comes with the stakes even higher than usual in the World Cup at Old Trafford this weekend and Harbhajan is well aware just how high emotions will be running on the pitch and in the stands.
The 38-year-old spinner played 17 times against Pakistan in a 236-match ODI career for India, including arguably their biggest ever match in the 2011 World Cup semi-finals on home soil in Chandigarh. It was such a critical fixture that Harbhajan lay awake for hours tossing and turning in bed the night before the game as he visualised the furious response from the Indian public if they lost.
“The memories of that game was I couldn’t sleep the night before, even though I tried my best,” Harbhajan said.
“I was just worried about what would happen if we lost the game.
“There were a lot of thoughts coming into my mind.
“People get angry and they can do anything. In the 2003 World Cup we didn’t play one game as well as we should have against Australia and people got really angry. They were just burning our stuff and throwing stones at our homes. They get a bit emotional.”
Despite his sleep-deprived preparation, Harbhajan took two wickets as India beat Pakistan by 29 runs, with his side going on to win the World Cup for the second time.
“When we won the game I couldn’t sleep the next day either because I was too excited and too happy,” he said.
That’s what the Pakistan game does to you.”