Speaking on the topic of sledging, Azhar Mahmood recalled an anecdote involving West Indies legend Brian Lara and former Pakistan leg-spinner Danish Kaneria.
Mahmood, who remembers how Lara once made Kaneria pay for sledging in a Test match, stated that one needs to be judicious in targeting opponents. Otherwise, he feels, any attempt to mentally disintegrate the opposition may backfire.
In a light-hearted interview with journalist Indranil Basu for SK Live, Azhar Mahmood said:
“Some players would make you pay if you sledged. Aravinda de Silva was one of them, even Brian Lara. It happened during the Multan Test. Danish Kaneria bowled a googly to Lara and said something. Lara acknowledged and smacked him for three consecutive sixes. That’s why I say, let the sleeping giant sleep. Don’t wake them up.”
Danish Kaneria was hit for a boundary in the first ball of the over, with the leg-spinner bowling a googly next up. After Brian Lara defended it, Kaneria sarcastically said, “Well played, Brian!”. Lara replied, “Okay, sir”.
Lara hit the next three balls for sixes before putting away the last delivery of the over for a four. The southpaw picked up 26 runs from the over as he went on to smash 216 in the drawn Multan Test.
"We left Sachin Tendulkar alone" - Azhar Mahmood
Azhar Mahmood feels that while sledging, it’s crucial to target players who can get emotional. The 45-year-old then went on to reveal that Pakistani players didn't sledge the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.
“Yes, sledging is a part where you want to distract your opponent from getting them out. You pick and choose your players. Some players are very emotional, some get riled up, and some get back to you with performances. So it’s better to leave some players alone. From India, we left Sachin Tendulkar alone. Even Rahul Dravid to some extent. At times, we targeted players like Yuvraj Singh, hoping they will get emotional and throw away their wicket,” added Azhar Mahmood, who played 21 Tests and 143 ODIs for Pakistan between 1996 and 2007.
When asked how he sledged batsmen, Azhar Mahmood joked that he would only ask his opponent what they were doing in the evening and if they could have dinner together.
Here’s one of the best sledging moments involving India and Pakistan from the 1996 World Cup quarter-final.