Over the years, Sourav Ganguly and Shoaib Akhtar became friends off the field, shared the same dressing room at the Kolkata Knight Riders in the inaugural season of the IPL and the Pakistan legend has always been full of praise for the former India captain for his batting prowess and leadership skill. But their introduction to each other still remains one of the most dangerous moment in Ganguly’s career. Ardent fans would of course recall that lethal delivery in the 1999 ODI game in Mohali. Years later, Akhtar reveals a bizarre Pakistan team meeting before Ganguly suffered a fatal rib injury from a short-pitched delivery from the pacer.
Speaking to India great Virender Sehwag on Star Sports’ ‘Frenemies’, shared on their YouTube channel, Akhtar revealed that during a team meeting ahead of a match against India, I was asked specifically to target the batters – on their head and ribs – and not to dismiss them. He added that Ganguly was among the names of batters, and that he was given that job to target his ribs.
“I was always trying to target the head and and rubs of a batsman. We had decided to target Ganguly on his ribs. In fact it was decided in our meeting itself where it was discussed how I will try to hit batters. I asked, “Do I not dismiss them?’. They said, ‘No. You have a lot of pace. You just try to hot the batters, we will take care of getting them out’,” he said.
Sehwag in reply said, “I’m sure Ganguly will be listening to this interview.
Akhtar told him that he had mentioned this to Ganguly later. “I had told Ganguly later that our plan was to target you in the ribs and not get you out,” he said.
Ganuly was floored by a lethal short-pitched delivery from Akhtar in the 1999 tie following which he was taken off the field. But the India legend bounced back from his injury to score a sensational ton in Adelaide against a Pakistan attack that comprised of Akhtar and Wasim Akram.
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