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Shahid Afridi reignites debate about Tendulkar being ‘scared’ of Akhtar

by Wisden Staff 1 minute read

Shahid Afridi, the former Pakistan all-rounder, has reignited his old claim that India batting legend Sachin Tendulkar was “scared” of facing Pakistan’s pace ace Shoaib Akhtar.

Afridi, speaking to Pakistan-based cricket presenter Zainab Abbas on Instagram live, had backed Akhtar’s statements in his 2011 autobiography Controversially Yours, in which he’d suggested Tendulkar was, during a particular spell, scared to face him.

The statement caused an uproar at the time, but Afridi backed his old team-mate, saying, “I’d seen it myself”. Asked about it all these years later, Afridi stood by his claim, although he did add that every batsman had this issue when facing fast bowlers.

“Sachin obviously won’t say it himself that, ‘I’m scared,’” Afridi said. “There were some spells from Shoaib Akhtar in which, not only Sachin, but some of the world’s best also got shaken up.

“When you are fielding at mid-off or covers, you can see it. You can sense the body language of a player. You can easily understand that a batsman is under pressure, he is not at his usual best.

“I’m not saying that Shoaib has scared Tendulkar always, but there have been some spells from Shoaib that have pushed some of the world’s best, including Tendulkar, on the backfoot.”

The rivalry between Akhtar and Tendulkar was one of the most intense battles of the Noughties. Akhtar dismissed Tendulkar eight times in 28 international matches.

However, the Indian batsman averages 44.13 across formats in matches against Pakistan involving Akhtar, a figure that rises to 45.47 in ODIs. Tendulkar’s 98 against Pakistan, voted No.3 in Wisden’s ODI innings of the 2000s, was iconic for his handling of Akhtar.

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