'Sachin played me the best... all the other batters were scared of me': Akhtar's blunt remark about India-Pakistan duel
India's Sachin Tendulkar and Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar squared off against each other several times during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Akhtar said Tendulkar played him the best during the 1999 World Cup – a phase when the rest of the lot was intimated while facing his speed.
Shoaib Akhtar tormented many batting line-ups in his heydays. A nightmare for even the best of batters, 'The Rawalpindi Express' was known for express pace, sharp bouncers and precise yorkers that could have easily categorized as thunderbolts. His on-field duels with legendary Sachin Tendulkar were fascinating, to say the least. The two players squared off against each other several times during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Akhtar, who used to ruffle the opposition with his spine-tingling bouncers, recalled his battle with Tendulkar. He said Tendulkar played him the best during the 1999 World Cup – a phase when the rest of the lot was intimated while facing his speed.
"This Pakistan team used to get to the ground against India with unnecessary pressure. We even choked in the 2003 World Cup. But Sachin played me the best during the 1999 World Cup. All the other batters were scared of me at that time. Many batters of the world used to stop moving their feet against me," Akhtar told Star Sports in an interaction.
India begin their Asia Cup 2022 campaign with an August 28 (Sunday) blockbuster against arch-rivals Pakistan in Dubai. Though the Men in Green are yet to win against India in an ODI World Cup fixture, they beat their neighbours at the World T20 last year.
Akhtar said Pakistan got 'pressurized' by the hype in the 1999 World Cup, where they lost to India in the group stage but made it to the final. They lost to Australia in the summit clash.
"We, as (the) Pakistan team, used to play against India, why don't you just play it as a normal match? We had come (into the 1999 World Cup) beating India in ODIs as well as Tests in their backyard. (It was) just the added pressure of the World Cup as well as the huge hype.
"Pakistan team used to get pressurized by that hype. This hype was created by TV (media) and we all used to watch TV," explained Akhtar.