Knew Sachin would hit over mid-wicket: Wasim Akram reveals plan that turned 1999 India vs Pakistan Test
Former left-arm pacer Wasim Akram, who was the captain of Pakistan during their historic tour of India in 1999, recalled the pulsating Chennai Test match, revealing how he and Saqlain Mushtaq decided to take a risk against an in-form Sachin Tendulkar which luckily paid off.
Tendulkar’s 136 remains one of his finest knocks, but a heart-breaking one as well since he couldn’t take India over the line. Battling back spasm, Tendulkar, with India 17 away from victory, top edged a heave off the bowling of Saqlain and was out caught by Akram himself. 21 years after that epic Test at the Chepauk stadium, the former Pakistan captain weighed in on the match, offering his insights.
“I remember that Test match like it was yesterday. India and Pakistan were known to play close matches. I remember a Test match in 1987 in Bangalore when Sunil Gavaskar scored some 90-odd and then this Chennai Test. It was such a close Test match, into its last day. I think India needed some 20-odd runs, and the partnership between Mongia and Sachin was flourishing. Sachin was reading Saqlain bloody well, and was aware when he bowled the doosra,” Akram told Aakash Chopra in a video chat.
Needing 271 to win, India were reduced to 82/5 when Tendulkar and Nayan Mongia came together to add a 136-run partnership for the sixth wicket. Akram, who broke the stand by foxing Mongia to play a rash shot, believes that was the moment when he believed Pakistan had a chance to wrap things up and indicated the message to his players.
“Had Mongia played along, the result would have been different. But when he skied one and got out, I told the players this is the time. Sachin was battling back spasms so the opportunity was right there,” the former fast bowler added.
With Tendulkar still holding fort, Saqlain went to his captain for advice, and that is when Akram asked Saqlain to bowl a risk delivery.
“When Sachin got out, all fielders were on the boundary. Only I was at extra-cover. I told Saqlain to bowl a flighted doosra, knowing the risk that it may even go for a six. Knowing that Sachin would hit over mid-wicket, Saqlain bowled it full on middle and leg. He went after it and top-edged the ball to me,” Akram said.
As it turned out Pakistan won the Test match by 12 runs as India’s tail failed to gather the remaining runs.