Cricket is all about pressure but the 1999 Chennai Test between arch-rivals India and Pakistan was one of its kind. Chasing a target of 271, India were reeling at 81/5 but it was Sachin Tendulkar who stood between Pakistan and a memorable victory.
Despite a severe backache, Tendulkar dug deep and battled hard, stitching a partnership with wicketkeeper-batsman Nayan Mongia to keep his side in the game. When Mongia was dismissed for 52, India’s scorecard read 218/6.
Tendulkar carried on and went on to score a ton and just when it looked he would single-handedly win the match for India, Pakistan spin legend Saqlain Mushtaq dealt a hammer blow with his doosra to get the master caught out. India were bundled out for 258, losing the match by 12 runs.
The Chennai Test was the birth of Saqlain Mushtaq, the magician and inventor of doosra. and history will remember his second innings dismissal of Tendulkar, caught by Wasim Akram at covers, as one of the priceless beauties of Test cricket.
Recalling the Chennai Test, Mushtaq, in a column for Wisden, wrote about what spurred him to get rid off Tendulkar in a crucial period of the match.
“For this series, I trained very hard. Every night of the tour I was very quiet and the players and support staff thought I was a strange person – but I wasn’t.”
“I was just trying to control and focus on myself. At Chennai, I took five wickets in the first innings and then it became a very tense game.”
“Sachin was playing beautifully and controlling the game. They needed about 35 runs and had five wickets in hand. I tried everything to get Sachin out but my body was tight and mentally I was down.”
“Rather than going into my shell, I decided to talk to the seniors. I said to Wasim [Akram], ‘He’s picking everything’.”
“He put his hand on my shoulder, we looked at each other, and he said: ‘You are the only one that can change the game, no one else.”
“If Pakistan wins this game, it will be because of you. You are the only one that can get Sachin out.’ The next ball I bowled was the doosra and it got him out.”
“After that, we finished India off. The way Wasim spoke to me, with eye-to-eye contact … that inspired me.”
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