Shoaib Akhtar dismissed Sachin Tendulkar nine times in his cricketing career but the former Pakistan speedster admits one such dismissal was a mistake. Akhtar got Tendulkar out thrice in test matches and five times in ODIs. The ninth instance of Akhtar dismissing Sachin came during the very first edition of the IPL way back in 2008.
What turned out to be the last time Akhtar had the wood over Tendulkar turned out to be a pretty unforgettable encounter for the ‘Rawalpindi Express’.
Akhtar recalled how the Kolkata Knight Riders, the team he was representing in the IPL, took on Mumbai Indians, captained by Tendulkar at the Wankhede Stadium. Batting first, KKR were bundled out for a lowly 67. MI won the match comfortably by eight wickets, of which one was of Tendulkar, who was dismissed by Akhtar for a duck.
The former Pakistani pacer revealed that due to the backlash of the crowd, then-KKR captain Sourav Ganguly had to change Akhtar’s fielding position to avoid the outburst of fans inside the stadium.
“We had scored really less. When the match began, the atmosphere was electric. It was Sachin’s city, Mumbai. It was Sachin Tendulkar versus Shoaib Akhtar and we at KKR had Shahrukh Khan in the stadium as well. The stadium and entire Mumbai were packed. Ahead of the match, we were having friendly chat and both Sachin and I greeted each other,” Akhtar told SportsKeeda.
“It was a beautiful ground and a fantastic atmosphere. The stadium was fully packed. But I dismissed Sachin Tendulkar in the first over itself and that was a huge mistake. Then I got a lot of abuse when I was at the fine leg. Sourav Ganguly told me, Come to mid-wicket, these people will kill you. Who told you to dismiss Sachin? That too in Mumbai?”
However, once the match was over, Akhtar said he could not hear a single bad word from the people of Mumbai. The year 2008 was the only one when Akhtar could play the IPL. Even though he came back to India for bilateral series and the 2011 World Cup, he could never play a match again at the Wankhede.
“I worked a lot in Mumbai and got lots of love. I was happy because at Wankhede, no one abused my country and no one made any racist comments. The crowd at Wankhede was very passionate. I wish I played more games there,” said Akhtar.