Salaam Sachin conclave: Pakistan team meetings used to be only about Sachin Tendulkar, says Shoaib Akhtar

Shoaib Akhtar (above) said Sachin Tendulkar shared a dangerous opening partnership with Virender Sehwag © Getty Images

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

Nov 12, 2013

Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar on Tuesday revealed that the team meetings ahead of matches against India used to be only about Sachin Tendulkar, at India Today’s ‘Salaam Sachin’ conclave in Mumbai

The anchor asked how much time of the Pakistan meeting used to be about Tendulkar, Akhtar said, “Our [Pakistan] team meeting used to all about Tendulkar!”

Speaking about the opening stand between Virender Sehwag-Sachin Tendulkar, Akhtar replied by saying “Bohot zalim kisam ka opening stand.”
 
Speaking about Rahul Dravid, Akhtar said, “Bohot satata tha. Bohot thak jate the hum.”

“I put Sachin right at the top. He has scored runs everywhere. He is right up there, says Waqar Younis, who was also present at the venue.
 
“When I came to India in 1999, I didn’t know much about Sachin. I didn’t feel I could play, but got a chance at Kolkata. When Sachin came to bat, I didn’t know he was a big star. I felt he was coming out a bit casually. I bowled [Rahul] Dravid. Once I got him, I felt I could get Sachin. I then planned a swinging Yorker. If he stays, he would get us, Wasim bhai told me. Once I gt him out, I was stunned at how the people reacted. I realised, Sachin is not a batsman, he is an institution.”

“I never said he was scared of me. I said, his elbow was not okay. And we targeted him with the short-stuff. I maintained that he couldn’t do much alone. I never said Sachin is not a match-winner. It was an honour, pleasure and a bit of fear that I felt I should get him out quickly.
 
“I believe scoring scores in the era of 85 to 2000s, he should get a huge credit. He is a great player,” said Akhtar.
 
The anchor at the conclave recalled once Shahid Afridi called the Tendulkar in the airport and said, “Paaji come forward.”

Yuvraj Singh was with Tendulkar.  Yuvraj asked Afridi that sometimes the latter could do the same with him. Afridi replied by saying,” You become half the cricketer he is, I will empty the airport.”

Catch live updates of the Salaam Sachin conclave here