There will never be another cricketer like Sachin Tendulkar, says Pakistan great Saqlain Mushtaq

“I feel honoured to have played cricket in an era when Sachin played,” says Saqlain Mushtaq (above) © Getty Images

Saqlain Mushtaq, the legendary Pakistani off-spinner who took 496 international wickets, heaped praise on Sachin Tendulkar.

There will never be another cricketer like Sachin Tendulkar. He’s been at the top of the game for 23 years, which is simply amazing. And the way he has conducted himself throughout his career has been exemplary and a lesson to all young cricketers around the world,” Mushtaq told Saj Sadiq of PakPassion.net in an exclusive interview.

The master of the doosra also spoke at the length about the friendship between the players off the field, which is in sharp contrast to the intense rivalry on it.
 
Excerpts from an interview with Saqlain Mushtaq:

On the resumption of Indo-Pak cricket
 
It’s fantastic news that India and Pakistan are on the verge of a limited overs series and I sincerely hope that this is the start of regular cricket between the two teams. Cricket can help to ease relations between the two countries and there’s nothing quite like the Indo-Pak cricketing rivalry. The Ashes is also a huge rivalry, but I think India versus Pakistan is a bigger cricketing rivalry.
 
On the benefits of Indo-Pak matches for young cricketers
 
India and Pakistan have produced many great young cricketers over the years, and playing against each other will only help in the development of cricketing talent in both India and Pakistan. The levels of passion, intensity and pride in these matches is second to none and competing against each other in these kind of matches can be a great boost for young cricketers from both countries and definitely help young cricketers from both nations in their development.
 
On the future Indo-Pak Test series
 
Test cricket is the real deal. Limited-overs cricket is entertaining, but cannot be compared to Test cricket. Connoisseurs of the game know that Test cricket is the number one format and that is the format that India and Pakistan need to start playing against each other in regularly.
 
I have nothing against T20s or the 50-over format, but Test cricket is the special format of the game and this is the format that I would like to see the Pakistani and Indian cricketers facing each other in on a regular basis soon. Fans from both countries will be happy to see their teams competing in the shorter format in India in the next week or so, but ideally we all want to see Test cricket between India and Pakistan.
 

There will never be another cricketer like Sachin Tendulkar, says Pakistan great Saqlain Mushtaq

Saqlain Mushtaq… master of the doosra © Getty Images

On playing cricket in India
 
I always enjoyed playing cricket in India. It was always a fantastic experience. The passion of the crowds in India and Pakistan is second to none. Whenever I played in India, the crowds were noisy and of course supported the home team, but also at most venues the Indian fans appreciated good cricket from the opposition. I’m sure the current crop of Pakistani cricketers in India at the moment will really enjoy the experience of playing in India. I would urge the Pakistani cricketers to soak up the atmosphere at the grounds in India and to savour the occasions.
 
On Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement from ODIs
 
The world of one-day cricket has suffered a huge loss with Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement from One-Day Internationals. There will never be another cricketer like Sachin Tendulkar. He’s been at the top of the game for 23 years, which is simply amazing. And the way he has conducted himself throughout his career has been exemplary and a lesson to all young cricketers around the world.
 
Sachin has been an icon not just in India but all around the world and I’ve always held him in high regard and have always had the utmost respect for him. But all good things come to end; nothing goes on forever. It’s like summer replacing spring, which is subsequently replaced by autumn. That is followed by winter. The winter of Sachin’s career has now arrived. He will not be forgotten though when he does call it a day from all formats.
 
Sachin leaves ODI cricket with great memories for fans all around the world, some brilliant and unforgettable moments that his fans will always cherish. His array of strokeplay has been phenomenal, he has had every shot in the book and wherever he has played he has been quite rightly adored.
 
Sachin’s retirement from ODIs must have been a well-thought out decision involving team mates, friends, family and, of course, the selectors. I think it’s the right decision and it will benefit Sachin in Test cricket and also the Indian one day cricket team as a whole in ODIs. Sachin has served his country well and he can bow out from ODI cricket with his head held high. He can look back at his one day career with great pride.
 
I feel honoured to have played cricket in an era when Sachin played. It’s been an honour to have bowled to Sachin. I’ve dismissed him, been hit for fours, hit for sixes, beaten him with deliveries; he’s out-thought me at the crease, and sometimes I’ve got the better of him. It’s always been an absolute pleasure.
 
I’ve always got on very well with Sachin and when I was playing for Sussex alongside Mushtaq Ahmed. The touring Indian team was playing a three-day match against the County. Most of the Indian squad had dinner at Mushtaq’s house every night during that match and I was present too. We had a few great evenings with the Indian squad in Sussex. All of us sat on the floor eating and talking about past matches that we had played in. It was an honour to be in the company of Sachin — memories that I still cherish.

(Saj Sadiq is Senior Editor at PakPassion.net)

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