‘At first look, I didn’t think he’s going to be the great Sachin Tendulkar’
On November 15, 1989 curly-haired Sachin Tendulkar made his debut against Pakistan at the National Stadium in Karachi. Who changed the definition of batting in later years.
Waqar Younis, who made his debut in the Pakistan jersey on the same day, later added his name to the list of legends. Waqar still remembers the first sight of Tendulkar, a schoolboy at the time.
Tendulkar made his debut at just 16 years old. Besides Waqar, Imran Khan and Wasim Akram were in the bowling attack of the Pakistan team at that time. Tendulkar, the ‘teenager’, handled their bowling that day with immense courage. Although a delivery from Waqar hit Tendulkar in the nose. But Tendulkar still did not give up. Seeing that brave Tendulkar of that day, Walker could not have imagined that he would one day make history.
“About Sachin, the entire India Under-19 team, they were just raving about him, saying how good that little kid is. He’s only a schoolboy, scoring triple-centuries at school. Who scores triple-centuries at school? Even scoring a century at school is an amazing thing,” Waqar said on The Greatest Rivalry podcast.
“We always knew there was this young kid coming on the block who was going to be amazing. At first look, he didn’t really give me the impression that he’s going to be the great Sachin Tendulkar, what he is today. What he has done over the years is amazing, on the field, off the field. At that particular time, I didn’t realise he was going to be such a big name in cricket. But his hard work paid off.”
Tendulkar was dismissed by Waqar in the first Test. He couldn’t score too much. But despite scoring just 15 runs, Waqar saw a glimpse of the future in Tendulkar that day, “The first Test was at Karachi and I got him early. I think he scored 15. He played a couple of really classy on-drives and straight drives in that 15. He didn’t score much after that in that series but the fifty you were mentioning which he scored in Sialkot, that was on a green top wicket.”
With the first three Tests drawn, Pakistan desperately wanted a result in Sialkot. That’s why Pakistan made grass wickets. But even in that wicket, Waqar was fascinated by the way Tendulkar played, “We wanted a result. We wanted the series to have a result and we produced a real green-topper. He came in and got hit on the nose very early in the innings. For a 16-year-old kid, he looked pale at the time, but very determined. I remember [Navjot Singh] Sidhu was batting with him and they both took five, seven minutes and [then] he was ready to go. Then he played that knock of fifty which really showed his class. We knew he was going to be something very special by then.”