Cape Town: Keen to "test" himself against Sachin Tendulkar, Pakistan's tearaway fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar on Saturday rated the master batsman ahead of anyone else and said he loved the challenge of bowling to him. "My adrenalin gets going when I bowl to Tendulkar," said Shoaib as he looked ahead to his side's potentially explosive clash with India at Centurion Park on March 1. "There are Gilchrists and there are Haydens but Tendulkar is in a different league of his own.
I have enormous respect for his ability as a batsman," he said, bemoaning the fact that he has not had much opportunity to "test" himself against the world's greatest batsman. "I have bowled to him only in one Test. May be in a couple of One-day Internationals. I have always enjoyed the challenge of bowling to him. Unless you test yourself against the likes of Tendulkar, and Brian Lara, you really can't judge how you are," he said.
Shoaib won the first round of his battle against Tendulkar when he knocked off the little genius' middle stump with the very first ball he bowled to him during the Kolkata Test of 1998-99 series. He said he would love to do something similar in the World Cup. "There is no better place do it and make your mark than to do it when the entire world is watching," he said. Shoaib said on the few occasions he bowled to Tendulkar, he could see why the little man was rated better than anyone else. "He is definitely a class act and among the top five batsmen I have ever come across."
He said the Indian team had a very good batting line-up with the likes of Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag but Tendulkar was something special. "The rest of the Indian batting is strong and men like Rahul Dravid can wear you down. But Tendulkar is ultimate." Shoaib said like everyone else he too was excited with the prospect of squaring up against the Indians in a high- tension clash at Centurion - the first between the two countries in more than two years. "I would like to show my class against the best batsmen of the world. I am ready," said Shoaib. Shoaib reiterated he would prove himself to be the best fast bowler of the world in the coming competition.
"This World Cup will prove I am the best. I will prove myself to be the fastest, better than Brett Lee." He said he was upset his record of bowling the fastest delivery of all-time, in excess of 100mph, two seasons ago in Pakistan wasn't officially acknowledged by the authorities. "They didn't believe me when I bowled that speed ball in Pakistan. Now they would have no choice but to accept it. This World Cup will settle the argument. I am the fastest bowler in the planet."