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'Thank God he kept me alive long enough to witness Sachin's career'

November 01, 2013 10:15 IST

'Thank God he kept me alive long enough to witness Sachin's career'

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Like Sachin Tendulkar, former Pakistan captain Mushtaq Mohammed also made his debut in Test cricket at a very early age. At 15 years and 124 days, he was the youngest Test cricketer when he played his first match against the West Indies, at Lahore, in 1959.

He played 57 Tests in a career spanning 20 years, and also captained his country in 19, before plying his wares for English county side Northamptonshire.  

Mohammed reveals why he was a keen follower of Tendulkar ever since his Test debut as a 15-year-old, against Pakistan in 1989:

My old friend Sunil Gavaskar told me before India's tour of Pakistan in 1989 to look out for this child prodigy who he felt would one day be 'a wonder of the world'.

From that moment on I took a special interest in Sachin Tendulkar, as I was once regarded a child prodigy, having made my Test debut at 15.

And because of that connection between us, I have followed his career with great interest over the years and even prayed for the lad at times. I always wanted him to do well.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar bats against Pakistan in Lahore in October 1989, Mushtaq Mohammed (inset)
Photographs: Ben Radford/Allsport

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'Sachin was the best child cricketer I had seen'

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But, back in '89, I was especially curious to take a look at the young boy after Sunil's endorsement, as I wanted to compare him to myself at that age and another child prodigy who was my protege, Javed Miandad.

And after seeing him in that series, and then on the England tour in 1990, I concluded that Sachin was the best child cricketer I had seen and knew he was going to have a big career.

The way he handled himself against Wasim Akram, Imran Khan, a young Waqar Younis and the brilliant Abdul Qadir was very impressive. Pakistan had one of the best bowling attacks around yet his technique was immaculate.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar (right) with Sunil Gavaskar
Photographs: Ben Radford/Allsport

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'I congratulate him on a remarkable achievement'

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I met him properly for the first time on the 1990 tour of England when India played a warm-up match at Smethwick. He was very likeable and asked me to help him fix his bat that had become too whippy. I was amazed how heavy that bat was, for such a small boy!

Now he is preparing for his 200th Test. I congratulate him on a remarkable achievement and I am pleased he is retiring on his own terms rather than wait for the tap on the shoulder.   

People have asked me many times over the years who I rate the best out of Sachin and Brian Lara, and it’s a question that is not easily answered. Each have their own merits.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Ben Radford/Allsport

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'Sachin would, maybe, rue the fact he never scored a Test triple century'

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Sachin, obviously, has many records to his credit and his longevity has been sensational, though Lara has, maybe, won more matches for his team while playing in an inferior batting line-up.

Sachin would, maybe, rue the fact he never scored a Test triple century, as he's had the talent to do it, though he has two more Tests! But, overall, he has so much to be proud of.

Garfield Sobers remains the best cricketer I have ever seen, but I thank God that he has kept me alive long enough to witness the 25-year career of Sachin Tendulkar.

(As told to Richard Sydenham)


Image: (Left to right): Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammed Azharuddin in 1989
Photographs: Allsport UK/Getty Images

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