Former Pakistani speed demon Shoaib Akhtar has credited India batting legend Sachin Tendulkar for making him a star. The duo battled multiple times on the field and two of their duels stood out for eternity. Shoaib has said a number of times in the past that he regards Tendulkar as among the greatest cricketers of all time.
One was Sachin Tendulkar hitting Shoaib Akhtar for a six-over point during a crunch match in the 2003 ICC World Cup in Centurion. Another was the incident that occurred in the 1999 Asian Test Championship encounter which was played in Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
During that match, Shoaib Akhtar silenced the crowd after dismissing Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar on back-to-back deliveries handing Tendulkar his first first-ball duck in Test cricket as he uprooted his middle stump with a searing yorker.
Recalling the occasion, Shoaib said that he had spoken to teammate and Pakistan spin legend Saqlain Mushtaq about Tendulkar.
“I remember asking, who is this god of cricket? He says, it’s Sachin Tendulkar. I told Saqlain, what if I dismiss him. He said, I have dismissed him in the last two Test matches and at Eden Gardens, and of course throughout the country, there is a lot of love for Sachin. But there they were very passionate about him. So Saqlain and I were having a bit of an argument about who is going to get Sachin out,” said Shoaib on Sportskeeda.
“(Rahul) Dravid got out and in came Sachin. That is when I realised that the noise level was such that it would burst my ears. It was so loud and it was something I was experiencing for the first time. When there is around one lakh people cheering while Sachin is walking out, people would have thought Shoaib Akhtar is about to be walloped. Saqlain was saying, your time has come, you going to let him go? I said no way I am letting him go,” said Shoaib.
Pakistan had batted first in that Test match after captain Wasim Akram won the toss and managed just 185 runs in 1st innings with Moin Khan top-scoring with 70 and Javagal Srinath taking 5/46.
It Is Probably Sachin Who Made Me A Star Because Of That Incident: Shoaib Akhtar On Clean Bowling Sachin Tendulkar In Kolkata Test
India replied with 223 with S Ramesh making 79, while Sachin Tendulkar copped his maiden golden duck in Test cricket at the hands of Shoaib Akhtar who picked 4/71. Talking about Sachin’s dismissal, Shoaib said that the fact that Tendulkar was taking his own time to get to the crease and get ready only increased the anticipation.
“Sachin was walking in very slow, his walk was not getting over. I turned around went to the start of my run up and turned back and even then he wasn’t ready. He was getting ready and (Pakistan captain) Wasim Akram was telling me Shebby don’t miss the line at all. Make sure that your reverse swing is ending on the wickets and bowl with everything you have got. I was quite anxious about getting him out. I remember quite clearly that I was thinking what to bowl to him. I knew what to bowl but there was so much sound, Wasim bhai was trying to talk to me and I was telling him that I can’t hear him. Then he started talking in gestures and I said, don’t do that he will understand what I am about to do.
“This was the kind of atmosphere and finally Sachin got ready. I started running in and I was completely focused on him. If he moved even a little bit, I would have been able to catch that. The ball went all the way to the crease, I made no mistake in my run-up, jump or action. I released the ball, Sachin lifted his bat and then, gone. He had a very high lift and the ball was reversing a lot. The ball that I bowled, I knew it would hit the stumps. I was not surprised and you would see that. After the almighty, it is probably Sachin who made me a star because of that incident,” said Shoaib.
Pakistan then replied with 316 in the second innings with Saeed Anwar making 188* and Javagal Srinath picking 8/86. Set 279 to win, India folded for 232 runs with VVS Laxman making 79 and Akhtar picking 4/47, as Pakistan won the match by 46 runs.