The master blasts - Another Sachin special
Electrifying passages revisits ten great passages of play that exemplify the intensity and passion of the rivalry between India and Pakistan ...
It was billed as the match of the tournament and it lived up to the hype. After Pakistan had scrapped and charged to 273, Tendulkar made his intentions clear with a six and two fours in succession off Shoaib's first over, paving the way for a famous victory. Tendulkar made 98 before he was out, fending off a short ball from Shoaib.
Contrary to what people think, I hadn't really planned to bat that way. I was pumped up for the match all right, but when we went out to bat, the idea was to stay in for the first few overs and see off the new ball. When you're chasing 275, you don't want to lose three or four quick wickets. Obviously, you can't afford to fall too much behind the run-rate either, but we knew that if we played out the first 10 overs, we had enough batsmen to play strokes later. So there was no question of targeting Shoaib or anybody else.
It just worked out differently. I got a couple of balls to hit, they went nicely off the bat, and things started happening. Shoaib bowled short and wide. It was there to be hit, and I hit it well. It went for a six. I thought, this is working well so why not carry on? Cricket is about making plans and executing them, but you have to be prepared to change your plans if things change out there in middle. It was one of those days.
Sachin is the greatest batsman in the game, and if he comes out with something like that, it's no surprise. I was the one who got him out first ball when I was a nobody [in the Asian Test Championship, 1999]. And if he smashes me it doesn't mean Shoaib Akhtar is finished. Yes, we make strategies, and I make a strategy for the whole team rather than only for Sachin. Obviously, he is a key player and it's always an advantage to get him out fast. I had a strategy at Centurion too, but I was unfit. I had a problem with my knees and went into the game after having taken six injections. My entire right leg was numb and I was only about 40 per cent fit. It was just a bad day for us. It was bad being hit for sixes. It was just bad to lose in that way. They asked me to play, and they made me play, and I had to play for the sake of my country.
Interviewed by Nagraj Gollapudi.