Watch: During the first Test of the 1998/99 Asian Test Championship, Sachin Tendulkar was run out after he ran into Shoaib Akhtar before he could make it to the crease. This moment on the field got temperatures to rise off it, as the Kolkata crowd wasn’t too pleased with what had happened. Soon, things took an ugly turn.
India-Pakistan cricket encounters are informed by immense passion and zeal amongst fans of the two nations. Given the discordant history between the two countries, these games have more than once caused flare-ups off the field.
This particular incident took place during the fourth innings of the Test. India stood at 143-2, positioned at a slight advantage in a chase of 279. Tendulkar’s presence at the crease meant everything to the Indian fans, and it was only a couple of games back that the Little Master had nearly won the Chennai Test with his stupendous 136 in trying circumstances.
At Eden Gardens, he had been bowled for a duck in the first innings off a searing yorker by Akhtar, who later told Wisden India that Tendulkar’s wicket made him a star.
In the second innings, Wasim Akram ran in to bowl to Sachin, who clipped the ball towards deep mid-wicket. Nadeem Khan, who would later recall the run out as an absolute fluke, ran to collect the ball and darted it towards the bowler’s end. The shot had been timed well, and there was an easy three in it, however, Tendulkar seemed to be focused on the ball and didn’t notice the Pakistani fielder who had run in to collect the ball.
Akhtar, the fielder, had got close to the stumps but started backing up to collect the ball cleanly. As his back was turned towards Tendulkar, the event ended in a collision.
At the same time, the throw from the deep crashed into the stumps. Wasim Akram and Moin Khan appealed loudly, Akhtar clutched his back, while Tendulkar seemed sure that he had made his ground.
However, he hadn’t grounded his bat. The direct hit meant that Tendulkar’s stay at the wicket was over at 9, and India were now 145-3.
Commentating on the wicket, Ramiz Raja said, “This could be very unfortunate for Sachin, although Shoaib Akhtar’s intentions were really to stop that ball…”
Sanjay Manjrekar also seemed to express surprise at the manner in which the throw from deep cleanly connected with the stumps “Very easy run that was, (the ball) just came and hit the wicket, that doesn’t happen too often and that tangle there with the fielder was really the decider.”
However, the crowd at Eden Gardens felt that their star, and India’s main hope in the contest, had been cheated out of playing a match-defining innings. They started pelting stones and hurling abuses at the Pakistani players. The match had to be stopped, and eventually Tendulkar had to take to the field to placate the crowd.
While, Pakistan would go on to win the contest by 46 runs, they did so in nearly empty stands as riot-like situation had ensured that spectators were forcibly removed from the stands in the harshest possible manner. For all the controversies surrounding the game, it saw some brilliant cricket in the form of Saeed Anwar’s second-innings knock of 188 and Javagal Srinath’s match figures of 13-132.