How Wasim Akram’s faith in Saqlain Mushtaq helped Pakistan dismiss Sachin Tendulkar in Chennai 1999

Recently, Wasim Akram spoke about how Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal was engineered in the iconic Chennai Test in 1999 where the Little Master scored 136 runs but India still failed to win the memorable match. Akram spoke about how he had a word with Saqlain Mushtaq before the delivery. Now Mushtaq has spoken about his own version of the incident, especially the part where Tendulkar started to take it to the Pakistan bowling attack.

“India vs Pakistan Chennai Test. There is no better Test in Pakistan’s cricket history – it was rated the No. 1 Test. In the first innings, I dismissed Sachin in the first or second delivery. Next innings when he came to bat, which was at a very crucial point in the match, Sachin did not play a single shot for the first 10 overs. He observed all my tricks which I threw at him. I tried off-spin, doosra, top-spin, arm-ball, bowled quicker off-breaks, flighted deliveries… he just played me cautiously for 10-12 overs. After that, he started smashing me,” Saqlain said on The Nadir Ali podcast.

India were chasing a target of 271 and had lost their top order to the pace of Akram and the spin bowling of Mushtaq. But in stepped Tendulkar. Smashing 18 boundaries, he stitched his way, all up to 136 and put India in with a fighting chance to take victory at Chennai.

At this point, Akram could have taken Mushtaq away from the attack, considering the murderous intent being shown by Tendulkar. But instead, Akram only had words of encouragement for his spinner.

“Then came a time when I went to Wasim Akram. I told him ‘Wasim bhai… I think he is reading me well so please take me off and bring someone else. Akram told me ‘Brother, no matter what, you will bowl from this end. I don’t trust anyone else. If this match turns, it will be because of you’. I would give a lot of credit to Wasim Akram. This is the communication he and I had during that match,” said Mushtaq on the podcast.

With 37 to win and five wickets in hand, the match looked completely out of reach for Pakistan. But then Mushtaq, emboldened by the belief shown by his captain, struck.

“For the next 10-12 overs, I did not bowl a single variation to him. I kept him hooked to just one ball which is off-spin and set one field so that he forgets all that he saw and observed in the first 10 overs. I didn’t show him the doosra – neither at the striker end or the non-striker end. And when he forgot, I went to Akram and said ‘I think now I have caught a hold of him. I will now take a chance against him’. Then I bowled a doosra and he went after him. Sachin had scored a 100 by then and had hit him for almost 16-17 fours. India needed 37 to win with 5 wickets left, and Sachin top edged it and Wasim took the catch,” described Saqlain.

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