Every batting great has had one breakthrough year in their career where they have owned the cricketing calendar.
Whether it was Virat Kohli’s golden streak in 2016 or Rohit Sharma’s purple patch in 2019, each cricketer would want at least a year never to end as they dominated in the given time-frame.
Similarly, for Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar, in the seasons of 1998 and 1999, he could not put a foot wrong as he single-handedly took India to victory with his blade on multiple occasions.
Former Pakistani spin wizard Saqlain Mushtaq recalled one instance when he dismissed Sachin who looked to carry on his form and take India to another victory.
Chasing a steep target of 272 on a fourth day crumbling pitch, Tendulkar took India to the cusp of victory with his valiant 136, with his side reeling at 81 for five at one point in time.
However, Sachin played one shot too many as he lobbed one attempting to hit Saqlain for a maximum. The ball only managed to reach Pakistan captain Wasim Akram, breaking a billion hearts.
“God was on my side that day. I did not think that I will get the Master blaster (Sachin) out. But when god has plans, you can’t beat that. Till my last breath, it will give me enough pride that I could dismiss him that day. Mera naam uske naam ke saath juda rahega….,” Mushtaq told Sportstar.
In the end, the Indian fell like a pack of cards past Tendulkar’s dismissal, handing a close 12-run victory to Pakistan. Mushtaq ended up with figures of 5/94.
Only two batsmen barring Tendulkar managed to reach double digits, with Nayan Mongia providing some support at the other end with his 54.
“He (Wasim Akram) told me that he had full faith in me, and he believed that I could do something magical for the team. Those words helped and I suddenly felt stronger. I conceded a few boundaries, but eventually, got him out,” the 43-year old added.
Saqlain was the pioneer of the doosra, which was later endorsed by Muttiah Muralitharan and Harbhajan Singh.
“Sachin had sharp eyes and he could read everything. It was intimidating. You wouldn’t believe, but I was scared to bowl him the doosra — fearing that he might hit boundaries. That was his power. The pitch was slow, so it was tough. But then, with god’s grace, I could send him packing,” concluded Mushtaq.
Mushtaq put an end to his glorious career after the conclusion of the Test leg India’s tour of Pakistan in 2004, finishing with 496 international scalps.