Pakistan cricket icon Wasim Akram demanded privacy and respect from fans and media alike Friday, calling for an end “once and for all” to rumours he is marrying Bollywood heroine Sushmita Sen.
The famed paceman has been linked constantly in the media to the 1994 Miss Universe since they were judges in 2008 Indian dance show “Aik Khilari, Aik Haseena” (A player, a beauty).
Wasim, a widower since his wife Huma died in October 2009, said he is fed up.
“I am tired of denying such rumours and now I want this to end once and for all,” Wasim told AFP after Indian media claimed Thursday that the couple were about to tie the knot in Mumbai.
Pakistani television channels also splashed the story, hotly anticipating another high-profile cross-border union after the 2010 nuptials of Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik and Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza.
Wasim said he and Sen are good friends only.
“She is one of the most graceful and decent ladies I have come across,” said Wasim of the 37-year-old Bollywood star. “It was huge fun working as judge with Sushmita as she is a thorough professional and presents herself gracefully.”
The dance show also featured Indian cricket stars Harbhajan Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Irfan Pathan, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Nikhil Chopra and Vinod Kambli and was also telecast on a leading Pakistani channel.
Wasim described the show as a good experience.
“The show was well received and was admired across the borders and that was it. If I get another chance to work with her I will do but I want the media of both the countries to respect us,” said Wasim.
Wasim said he is devoted to bringing up his two sons, Taimur and Akbar.
“I want to bring them up and make them good and successful human beings, so my life is devoted to my sons,” said Wasim.
Sen has two adopted daughters and has yet to marry.
Wasim said their personal lives should be respected.
“I have my own personal life and she has her own, so the media and fans should not disrespect that,” said Wasim, who has taken a year’s leave as a bowling coach in the Indian Premier League to spend time with sons.
“I have always felt at home in India and the kind of respect I get in India is very pleasing so I will continue to work as and when I get time, but as my sons also needed time I have taken leave from the IPL this year,” said Wasim.