Tendulkar closed his eyes while facing Akhtar’s bouncers: Mohammad Asif recalls Karachi Test in 2006
Sachin Tendulkar is regarded as one of the best batsmen to have ever played the game of cricket. He didn’t have any glaring weakness against pace, swing, was equally aggressive, if not more against the spinners. Sachin played against some of the best fast bowlers of his time like Glenn McGrath, Shaun Pollock, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Brett Lee, Shoaib Akhtar and came out on top more often than not. But Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Asif revealed there was a time when Sachin struggled against the raw pace of Shoaib Akhtar.
Asif, who had been banned for seven years for his involvement in spot-fixing in a Test match in England in 2010, claimed Sachin Tendulkar had ‘closed his eyes’ while tacking a couple of bouncers from Shoaib during the third Test in Karachi in 2006.
Asif was pointing to the third Test of the three-match series in Karachi where Irfan Pathan became the second Indian to claim a Test hat-trick.
“When the match started, Irfan Pathan claimed a hat-trick in the first over itself. Our morale was down. Kamran Akmal scored a century lower down the order. We scored around 240 runs.
“When we started bowling, Shoaib Akhtar bowled at express pace in that match. I was standing at square leg near the umpire and I myself saw that Tendulkar closed his eyes while facing one or two bouncers bowled by Shoaib. The Indians were playing on the back foot and we didn’t allow them to score even 240 in the first innings. We snatched victory from jaws of defeat,” Asif said in the Burgerz show.
Pakistan were bowled out for 245 in the first innings. It was the century from Kamran Akmal (113) which helped them post a respectable first-innings total. However, they came out with a splendid bowling performance as they bundled India to 238.
In the 2nd innings, the hosts posted a mammoth 599/7, riding on the superb century from Faisal Iqbal (139) and went on to win the match by 341 runs as they bundled out India for 265 in the final innings.
Asif had picked up 7 wickets – 4 in the first innings and 3 in the second - in the match.
The right-arm pacer who is still hailed one of the best swing bowlers to have ever played for Pakistan also narrated how he was a bit intimated by the Indian batting line-up because of the presence of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag. Asif also said their record from the previous tour in 2004 was also something playing on the back of his mind.
“If you remember the Indian team that came to Pakistan in 2004, they had a solid batting line-up. Dravid was scoring plenty of runs, Sehwag smashed us at Multan,” said Asif, who was not a part of that series.
Two years later, in 2006, Asif was one of the leaders of Pakistan’s pace attack along with Shoaib Akhtar.
“During the Faisalabad Test, both teams scored 600 runs each. We were a bit worried as their batting line-up was deep, MS Dhoni was batting at number seven or eight,” Asif recalled.
Pakistan had won the three-match Test series 1-0 as the first two Tests had ended up in draws.