‘I kept bowling bouncers’: Shoaib Akhtar recalls how he troubled Sachin Tendulkar in 2006 Faisalabad Test
When talking about cricketing rivalries - the on-field battle between India legend Sachin Tendulkar and former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar is one of the memorable ones. Tendulkar, who is regarded as one of the best batsmen of all-time, faced several world-class bowlers during his cricketing days - including Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram Mutthiah Muralitharan and others. But Tendulkar’s battles with Akhtar always garnered much attention as fans used to watch with bated breath what will happen when the two forces collided on the field.
In a recent interview, the former Pakistan quick recalled the rivalry and said that he had a lot of respect for the India batsman. Speaking in an ESPNCricinfo videocast with cricketer-turned-commentator Sanjay Manjrekar, Akhtar said: “A couple of batsmen would never speak to me. Sachin would never lose his focus by talking to me.”
“People used to say that Sachin and I used to compete against each other, but we never abused each other. I used to respect him as a great batsman and I used to look at him as a great competitor,” he added.
Akhtar further went on to recall the 2006 Test in Faisalabad in which he troubled the India batsman. The former seamer said that he used to figure out ways in which he can tackle the threat posed by Sachin. In the match which had ended in a draw, Akhtar had dismissed Tendulkar for 14 in the first innings.
“But I used to work him out. I used to know where Sachin was injured. In Faisalabad (2006) Test, I knew he had an elbow injury and I knew he couldn’t hook or pull the ball, so I kept bowling bouncers at him,” the former Pakistan pacer said.
Akhtar further said that people remember Test spells between Sachin and Akhtar, and younger cricketers should also focus on playing the longest format. “Nowadays, players are finding reasons to slow down to play longer, I don’t know why. People only remember Test matches spells. Now matter how many wickets you have taken in T20Is and I might have done wonders in ODIs, people will only remember the spells from the Test matches.
“There is a battle between me and Sachin in a Test match. Here you go, he’s gonna hit me for a six or I am going to get him clean-bowled. Whatever it is, I am going to come back with a lot of character... these are spells that people like to see,” he said.