A dream reunion of fast-bowling greats Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis is off the cards after the latter failed to reach an agreement with Multan Sultans to become their head coach. And to no surprise to fans familiar with their playing careers, it seems as if their relationship - often tumultuous and strained during their playing days - has played a role.
Waqar, who has had two stints with Pakistan as the national head coach, was not involved in the first two seasons of the Pakistan Super League (PSL). But with the addition of a sixth team for the third season, he was approached in June to join Multan Sultans - owned by the Schön Group, a Dubai-based enterprise well-established in the real-estate business in Pakistan. The franchise had already signed Akram as director of cricket operations.
"I have been in discussions with them but sadly we didn't reach a final agreement," Waqar told ESPNcricinfo. "They [Multan owners] are good people and I was delighted to have an offer mainly because the idea of reuniting with Wasim Akram was fascinating. Both of us working for the same cause of cricket for the same team would have been great. I wish Wasim bhai very good luck with his plans to form his own team."
During an interview with Geo Sports the previous night, however, Waqar had given the merest hint of his problems with Akram being part of the reason. Though he struck a conciliatory note there as well, and thanked the franchise for considering him, he did add: "Wasim bhai will make whatever team they put together and probably I don't come in that plan... which I have probably never been in his plans.
"I always wanted to be part of Multan because it's linked with where I'm from, the city and region of South Punjab where I am from, so it's unfortunate."
Both Akram and Waqar dominated world cricket in the 1990s, despite differences in their relationship. Over the years, both players have moved on, with Waqar even expressing regret over the way things were. This PSL venture with Multan would have been the first time they would have worked together since their retirements in 2003.
In the 61 Tests that the two played together, they took 559 wickets between them - 282 for Akram, 277 for Waqar. They are the third most prolific fast-bowling duo after West Indians Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, and English spearheads James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
Akram has had two stints with Islamabad United, winning the inaugural championship in 2016. The 2017 season was less successful, beginning with three of the franchise's cricketers - Mohammad Irfan, Khalid Latif and Sharjeel Khan - embroiled in a spot-fixing scandal.
Multan Sultans refused to comment but confirmed that they had been in discussions with Waqar. They had a shoot planned with Waqar and Akram in Multan today, but it has been postponed after the deal fell through.