Pakistan plot to dismiss Sachin backfired

Published: Monday, January 31, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
Share this on your social network:
   Facebook Twitter Google+    Comments Mail

Islamabad:Down in the dumps during the 2003 World Cup and pitted against India in a crunch match to qualify for Super Sixes, the message to Pakistani pacemen was to "aim at Sachin Tendulkar's midriff" but the plan was doomed with the batting genius blasting from the word go.

After an elaborate briefing ahead of the crucial match in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Feb 29, Pakistan Coach Richard Pybus showed a 30-minute video to players showing top Australian bowlers aiming the ball into Tendulkar's ribcage causing him to play awkwardly, Pakistan Cricket Board Chief Shaharyar Khan writes in his book 'Cricket, A Bridge of Peace'.

"After half an hour of this video, the message was clear, aim at Tendulkar's midriff and he may play a false shot. Give him width or poor length and he would smack the bowler to all corners of the field," Shaharyar, who was the Manager of the Pakistani team during the World Cup, writes about the team's game plan to win the crunch match to qualify for Super Sixes.

"We retired that night in the hope that despite our poor form and India's success in the World Cup, we could turn the corner.

On the fateful morning of the match, Pak skipper Waqar Younis won the toss and elected to bat with a hope to post 300 runs to put pressure on the famed Indian batting. Pakistan managed to score a modest 270.

With thirty runs short of the goal, attention was turned to get Tendulkar out early, writes Shaharyar.

"As Wasim Akram measured his run up, I wondered if the video tutorial that the team had been shown by Pybus would spur our bowlers on attacking Tendulkar's rib cage. It was not to be. Tendulkar who had been awesome form, began to unleash a barrage of scintillating strokes against our opening bowlers," he writes.

"After Wasim had been smacked for fours contemptuously, Shoaib ran in like a dervish, eyes bulging, straining for speed and was hit for 19 imperious runs by Tendulkar. Shoaib was clearly unnerved and as it was transpired later, asked to be taken off one over."

Ironically, Tendulkar, whose innings Shaharyar praises heavily in his book, was out finally, two runs short of a century, caught by Younus Khan while awkwardly fending a ball bowled into his ribcage.

"Pybus' message has finally been heeded, but then Tendulkar had already made 98 runs in a superb match winning knock," he writes wondering whether his players were incapable of absorbing lessons "that were so obviously right." The story of the "rib cage weakness" does not end here.

Shaharyar said he later came to know that Tendulkar "took some colleagues with him to the nets after the match and asked them to bowl taped tennis balls at his rib cage so that he could correct the fault that got him out".

"India had over-shadowed us mainly through the genius of Tendulkar but there was no disgrace in losing the match," Shaharyar, who retired in 1994 as Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, writes paying glorious tribute to Tendulkar.

The defeat against India and the subsequent ouster of Pakistan from the 2003 World Cup without qualifying for the Super Sixes ended the careers of Pakistan's great bowlers Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, "while Shoaib himself was not the same again, at least against India".

Shaharyar writes that after the defeat against India, the team returned to the hotel with apprehension and concern for their safety on returning home.

"They knew in Pakistan violent criticism awaited each player. Already news had come that Shoaib's house had been pelted and the players felt scared of the public wrath that they would have to face on their return."

Adding fuel to fire, was a public fracas between out-of-form Inzamam-ul Haq and Younis Khan while playing rugby before the final match against Zimbabwe, writes the PCB chief while adding that a minor incident had been blown out of proportion.

"While in Johannesburg, we learnt of the fury of the Pakistani public and that the Pakistan Cricket Board had set up an inquiry committee to examine the reasons for our dismal performance."

"The Board also permitted players to return separately to their home cities, so that various groups flew home by different flights to Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore, hoping to arrive in the early hours of the morning for relative anonymity," he writes narrating Pakistan's disastrous campaign in the World Cup.

Write Comments