2003 World Cup match against Pakistan best game of my life: Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar on Saturday said the semi-final against Pakistan in 2011 was the most high-pressure game he has played…

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A veteran of six World Cups, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar on Saturday said the semi-final against Pakistan in 2011 was the most high-pressure game he has played but his best match remains the clash with the arch-rivals in 2003 edition of the marquee tournament.

“It (Mohali World Cup semi-final 2011) was definitely the most high-pressured game of my life. It was a different kind of a feeling, hard to explain what it is,” said Tendulkar, whose 85-run knock set up India’s 29-run win.

Talking about the 2003 World Cup match against Pakistan, Tendulkar said: “I don’t think there was a better World Cup match that I have been a part of.”

With India opening their campaign against Pakistan in Adelaide tomorrow, the euphoria and excitement surrounding the match has reached a crescendo and Tendulkar said it is a different feeling playing the arch-rivals.

“The interest levels of people start a year before the start of the tournament. People tell us that this is a match we need to win, whatever happens later, we do not care… fortunately we do not think that way,” Tendulkar told Headlines Today.

Sharing his experiences, Tendulkar said that in all the five India-Pakistan World Cup matches, there has been a tremendous kind of energy inside the stadium.

“The post-match celebrations, talking to all my family members and friends… the whole of India was celebrating that match,” said Tendulkar, who has won three Man of the Match awards against Pakistan.

Talking about his mouth-watering clash with Shoaib Akhtar during the 2003 World Cup match, where he had blasted 18 runs off the pacer’s over, Tendulkar said: “We knew that we had won the first round against Pakistan and we had put them on the backfoot.”

Asked about that particular shot where he had sent Akhtar soaring over backward point for a six, Tendulkar said that it was an instinctive shot.

“That ball was released at 150 kms and a batsman does not have enough time to plan and play a shot like that,” said Tendulkar, who had scored 98 to help India chase down the target in 45.4 overs.

“Hundreds don’t matter. What matters is that India wins.”

About how he handled the pressure of a India-Pakistan match, Tendulkar said: “I try and remain in my room before the game. In my own space and with my own thoughts … I have a habit of packing my bag in advance. I do not do this at the last minute. Doing all this is all part of the preparation.”

Tendulkar said he keeps listening to music. “It is all sorts of music – Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Mohammed Rafi to U-2, Dire Straits … Sonu Nigam,” he added.

Talking about personal relations with the Pakistani players, the ace batsman said: “We are not enemies off the field. When we play each other, we compete, we want to win. It does not matter that Wasim (Akram) is a friend or not.

“I think it is the same thought process in their dressing room as it is in ours. “We respect each other as individuals off the field.”

Tendulkar had made his Test debut as a 16-year-old in 1989 against Pakistan in Karachi, facing the fearsome bowling attack of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.

“I hadn’t faced that kind of bowling, that kind of pace, that kind of hostility, that kind of skill to bowl late reverse swing,” said Tendulkar.

“After my first Test, I thought it was too tough for me. I spent a lot of time talking to my seniors, Chandu Borde, Ravi Shastri and they advised me that I need not rush. You need to give yourself time.

“In the next innings, I realised that I could deal with it. But then Waqar hit me on my nose and in those days I did not wear a helmet with a grill. Post that I started wearing a grill. But I did not want to leave the battlefield as that would have put on tremendous pressure on us,” he added.

Narrating an interesting anecdote, Tendulkar said: “Qadir challenged me because I hit Mushtaq (Ahmed) for a couple of sixes and a boundary. Qadir said, ‘bacchon ko kyun mar raha hai (Why are you smashing runs off children). Hit me, I will bowl to you. And in the following over, I hit 27 or so runs on Qadir’s bowling.”

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First published on: 15-02-2015 at 08:33 IST