NEW DELHI (Agencies): In November 1989, a 16-year-old Indian batsman made his way nervously to the crease to face the might of the Pakistani bowling attack.
Almost 16,000 Test runs later, that player is revered as one of the greatest to ever wield a bat. Little did we know that at the time, that diminutive teenager believed his first innings in Karachi would also be his last.
Sachin Tendulkar, known as the God of cricket, went on to have one of the greatest careers in the history of the sport, but in a recent interview he has spoken about the nightmarish experience of facing the devastating pace duo of Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram on his debut for the Indian team.
Waqar, who was also making his debut in that Test, and Wasim established themselves as one of the most fearsome bowling combinations in cricket, as their searing pace and mastery of reverse swing left countless batsmen dazed and confused at the crease.
Speaking on Indian TV, Tendulkar spoke about his introduction to the Test arena, and he admitted that his first innings was almost his last.
“First innings of my life, in Karachi, I thought it would be my first and last innings,” he said. “In the first match, I had no idea. Waqar (Younis) bowling from one end, Wasim (Akram) going full-throttle from the other. And they had just started reverse-ball. To go there and play suddenly, I was completely out of place.”
Luckily for the game of cricket, there were experienced teammates on hand to offer consolation and sage advice to the precocious young batsman.
“I took advice from everyone in the dressing room and they told me to spend some more time on it. ‘This is international cricket. You’re playing possibly the best bowling attack in the world. Give them that respect.’ Second innings of my life, I scored 59 runs. I got back to the dressing room and looked at myself and said, ‘You’ve done it.’”
All cricket fans would shudder at the idea of Tendulkar heading into premature retirement after a rocky introduction to international cricket, but thankfully he learned from the experience and proceeded to become the highest run scorer the game has ever known.