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  Saturday, 20 July, 2002, 19:10 GMT 20:10 UK
Wasim's curry power
Wasim and curry graphic
The Pakistan team will get a warm welcome from Wasim Akram's favourite Asian restaurant when the triangular tournament kicks off at Edgbaston on Thursday. Chris Green dropped into the curry house of the cricket stars.

Cricket and curry go hand in hand.

As any club player knows there's nothing like a bhuna or balti after batting and bowling. It's much the same for professional players.

After they've showered and sipped a beer, dissecting the day's play over a dhansak is one of the few ad hoc eating options available.

And an Asian restaurant, a mere six hit from Edgbaston, has become a favourite haunt of cricketers.

They've recently re-arranged the walls at the Kababish curry house in Moseley on the edge of Birmingham's balti belt.

Wasim Akram
Wasim is now a close friend
Photos of the many cricketers who have dined here - including David Gower, Ian Botham, whole Pakistan touring teams, Warwickshire regulars like Nick Knight and Gladstone Small, and the entire Kent team - have gone.

All that is left are photos of ex-England skipper Michael Atherton, Wasim Akram - and Muhammad Ali - who dropped in a few years back.

Restaurant manager Sajod Shafique is a close friend of Akram - and he's expecting a visit from his chum before or after the day/night game between England and Pakistan.

Sajod's father, Khawaja, is a prominent member of the local Asian community and the visit of major sports stars to the family restaurant is a perk of an otherwise hectic load.

Wedding invitation

"I first met Wasim in 1989, but we became close friends in during the 1992 tour," recalls 35-year-old Sajod.

"Wasim was nursing a groin injury and he needed somewhere to stay, so we looked after him. We spent a lot of time together and got to know each other very well."

Sajod was invited to Wasim's wedding in Lahore in 1993, and although he's a Warwickshire fan, watched Akram throughout his career with Lancashire.

He has travelled to Pakistan and Australia to see him play and this season he went to the first Test at Lord's and matches at Canterbury and Leicester.

Their friendship was further cemented when Wasim opted to play for nearby Smethwick in the Birmingham League two years ago.

"He'll drop in when they play here. We have catered for the whole Pakistani team before now but we're only expecting a few players this time."

Imran Khan and Javed Miandad are also family friends.

Imran Khan
Imran Khan is one of Sajod's pals
But is it wise for cricketers to gulp down curry if they're likely to spend six hours in the field the next day?

"The Pakistani players like lots of spices - but there is a difference between food which has flavour, and dishes like vindaloo, which are just made hotter by adding chillies.

"It's the hot food which causes stomach upsets," explains Sajod.

With a large local Pakistani support likely to turn up at Edgbaston - one thing the Kababish won't be doing is telling anyone when Wasim and co will turn up.

"We never advertise when players are coming. They deserve their privacy and we don't seek publicity. We're just happy they recommend our restaurant to each other."

See also:

05 Jun 01 | NatWest Series
05 Jun 01 | England v Pakistan
04 Jun 01 | England v Pakistan
06 Jun 01 | England v Pakistan
05 Jun 01 | England v Pakistan
04 Jun 01 | England v Pakistan
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