Recalling the 2006 Faisalabad Test on India’s tour to Pakistan, Shoaib Akhtar has revealed that he intentionally kept bowling bouncers at Sachin Tendulkar, knowing that Indian batsman was suffering from an elbow injury.
Speaking on the ESPNcricinfo Videocast with Sanjay Manjrekar, Akhtar said that he opted for the tactic knowing that Tendulkar wouldn’t be able to take on the bouncer, given his long-standing issues with his left elbow.
“I used to work him [Tendulkar] out [during their playing days],” Akhtar said. “I knew where exactly his injuries were. In Faisalabad, he had injuries of the elbow. I knew he would not be able to hook or pull me. So I kept bowling bouncer after bouncer at him.”
Between 2004 and 2006, Tendulkar was afflicted by a severe tennis elbow injury, one that nearly truncated the batsman’s career, by his own admission.
After a medical operation, Tendulkar returned to the Indian side, but went through a dry phase upon comeback, averaging just 24.27 in Test cricket in 2006. The Pakistan series that Akhtar mentions was a tough series for him – he managed just 63 runs in three innings.
Akhtar, however, maintained that he had immense respect for Tendulkar, saying that he was one of the few batsmen who would never engage in a verbal duel with the paceman.
“A couple of batsmen would never speak to me. Sachin would never lose his focus by talking to me. The world keeps talking about our clashes, but we never abused each other. I used to respect him as the greatest batsman, but I used to take him as a great competitor.”