Shoaib Akhtar downplays remarks against Sachin Tendulkar

Shoaib Akhtar had Sachin Tendulkar of being scared to face his scorching pace on a slow Faisalabad track AFP

New Delhi: Sept 23, 2011

Controversial speedster Shoaib Akhtar, who questioned Sachin Tendulkar’s ability to finish matches in his autobiography, today sought to play down the remarks by saying that he was only referring to a particular incident when he felt the star Indian batsman “was trying to save himself.”

“I never said that Sachin was scared of me. I just said in the context about players not being comfortable on particular occasions. I have also felt that a number of times,” Akhtar said at the launch function of his book ‘Controversially Yours’ here.

“It was one such occasion when Sachin had tennis elbow problem and was unable to hook and pull. On that particular day, I felt that Sachin was trying to save himself. That doesn’t mean that he was buzhdil (coward). It’s just when you are uncomfortable, whether you are tail-ender or Sachin Tendulkar, you tend to save yourself,” he said.

Then lavishing praise on Tendulkar he said, “He has had a fabulous last few years. He is the greatest batsman. Unse humara kya muqabla (How can I be compared with Tendulkar).”

Akhtar also tried to set the record straight about what he actually meant when he said that Rahul Dravid was not a “match-winner”.

“Again I would like to mention that I spoke about a particular phase. Dravid was always a nightmare for bowlers in Test matches. But again he transformed his game in the ODIs.

So, it was about a particular time.”

Shoaib didn’t mince words when he said that a lot of fights are on in the Pakistan dressing room.

“But thank God, we atleast fought in the dressing rooms but your Harbhajan Singh slapped someone in the open,” he said in jest referring to the off-spinner’s infamous slap on Sreesanth.

On the best international batsmen he has bowled to, he said “Brian Lara is the best batsmen I have bowled to but I have enjoyed my duels with Matthew Hayden. He liked taking me on and I liked taking him on. Also Justin Langer would be very irritating as he would slip through me while running between the wickets.”(PTI)