When India faced Pakistan in Karachi in the opening Test of their four-match series in November 1989, there were two debutants from each side.
For Shahid Saeed and Salil Ankola, their Test careers failed to extend beyond the match. For Waqar Younis and Sachin Tendulkar, greater things were to come.
On the latest episode of The Greatest Rivalry podcast, Waqar – then an up-and-coming paceman who turned 18 during the course of the match – talked of his first impressions of coming up against the 16-year-old batting prodigy Tendulkar, who would finish his illustrious career in 2013 with 100 international centuries.
“About Sachin, the entire India Under-19 team, they were just raving about him, saying how good that little kid is,” Waqar said. “He’s only a schoolboy, scoring triple-centuries at school. Who scores triple-centuries at school? Even scoring a century at school is an amazing thing.
“We always knew there was this young kid coming on the block who was going to be amazing. At first look, he didn’t really give me the impression that he’s going to be the great Sachin Tendulkar, what he is today.
“What he has done over the years is amazing, on the field, off the field. At that particular time I didn’t realise he was going to be such a big name in cricket. But his hard work paid off.”
It seems that the moment Tendulkar really caught the eye was in the fourth Test in Sialkot. After he was dismissed by Waqar for 15 in his maiden Test innings, Tendulkar returned scores of 59, 8, 41 and 35 before hitting 57 in his final knock of the series, during which he was struck on the nose by Waqar. The match was drawn, leading to a 0-0 series draw.
Speaking to Nikesh Rughani, Waqar said: “Th first Test was at Karachi and I got him early. I think he scored 15. He played a couple of really classy on-drives and straight drives in that 15. He didn’t score much after that in that series but the fifty you were mentioning which he scored in Sialkot, that was on a green top wicket.
“We wanted a result. We wanted the series to have a result and we produced a real green-topper. He came in and got hit on the nose very early in the innings. For a 16-year-old kid, he looked pale at the time, but very determined. I remember [Navjot Singh] Sidhu was batting with him and they both took five, seven minutes and [then] he was ready to go. Then he played that knock of fifty which really showed his class. We knew he was going to be something very special by then.”