Tendulkar in his elements

Meeting Of The Minds: Co-author Shashi Tharoor and Sachin Tendulkar at the release of the former’s book. AFP

Expect the unexpected when it comes to Test cricket, says Indian batting ace Sachin Tendulkar, who recalled how Wasim Akram peppered him with bouncers even as he expected yorkers in his maiden Test series in Pakistan.

Tendulkar was speaking here on Friday at the launch of a book ‘Shadows Across The Playing Field’, authored by India’s Minister of state for External Affiars Shashi Tharoor and former PCB chairman and diplomat Shaharyar Khan .

“I was included in the first Test (in 1989). On the first day, we fielded and I was so tired after six hours on the field that I slept after we returned to the hotel, woke up for dinner and again went back to sleep,” he said.

“The next day we batted and Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis were charging in. The first ball I faced from Wasim was a bouncer. I expected a yorker next ball but got a bouncer again. The third ball too was a bouncer when I was again prepared for a yorker for which he was famous.

“And the fourth ball, the last of the over, too was a bouncer and I told myself, welcome to Test cricket. You plan something and you have to do something else,” he said, vividly recalling his entry into Test cricket two decades after that momentous visit to Pakistan.

“It was an incredible experience. We played very well and it was a drawn series. We got a terrific reception on our return home,” he recalled. Tendulkar said fans in both countries react in the extreme and cricket does not remain merely a sport when the teams meet each other.

Indian players are either garlanded like ‘kings’ or treated like ‘criminals’, depending on the outcome of an Indo-Pak series, and the feeling is not different on the other side of the border.

“Both the nations react to our highs and lows. Sometime we say that cricket is just a sport...but that does not happen. You get different reactions on your performance and rather (on the performance) in the last match,” he said.

Referring to the 1997 one-day series in Toronto, Tendulkar said, “We beat Pakistan 4-1 and the reception we got in Delhi was incredible. About 5000-7000 fans were there to receive us at the airport at two in the morning. They threw garlands and roses at us. We were treated like kings,” he recalled.

The Mumbaikar then revealed the other side of the coin. “We lost a one-day series 2-1 and the reaction was completely different. People looked at us as if were criminals and we had done something wrong.”

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