Karachi: Former Pakistan players have paid glowing tributes to Sachin Tendulkar, who will be completing glorious 20 years in international cricket tomorrow, describing the champion batsman as a true ambassador of the game.
Tendulkar has been the face of Indian cricket since his Test debut as a 16-year old against Pakistan at the National stadium here in 1989 .
And former Pakistan captain and batting great Javed Miandad said he always advises the youngsters to follow in the footsteps of Tendulkar.
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“We had a fearsome pace attack in Imran (Khan), Wasim (Akram), Waqar (Younis) and Saleem Jaffer but what is still etched in memory is the way he played his first ball in Test cricket.
“It was a very pacy delivery from Waqar and this young fellow came on the front foot to drive the ball. It was confidence personified. We all knew we would be hearing a lot about this youngster in years to come,” Miandad said of the batting great.
“He loves cricket and with his hard-work, focus and commitment he has truly become an outstanding ambassador for the sport at a time when commercialism is so rampant,” Miandad said.
Former Pakistan leg-spinner Abdul Qadir, whose duel with a young Tendulkar in an ODI at Peshawar in the 89’ series is part of cricketing folklore, said the champion batsman was far from finished and would continue to break many more records.
He said Tendulkar had outshone his illustrious compatriots with his sheer greatness and love for the game.
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“I think Tendulkar has outdone all the other greats with his hunger for the game which is amazing,” Qadir said.
Tendulkar hit Qadir for three sixes in an over in the Peshawar game at a time when the leg-spinner was at his peak.
“That was a time when I was at my best and even the best batsmen had second thoughts coming out to hit me. I remember I kept on goading him to hit me and he took the challenge and came down to strike me cleanly. It was amazing. I knew instantly this was someone special,” he recalled.
Another former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq said Tendulkar was a gentleman personified who never allowed fame to get over him.
“What has impressed me the most about Tendulkar all these years is his humble and simple nature. I never saw him ever let the fame and adulation he enjoys get to his head,” Inzamam said.
“Whenever we played India we always knew Tendulkar was the key wicket for us it would always be a psychological blow for the Indians. His greatness is depicted in his outstanding statistics. I think it was largely due to the confidence and poise he brought to the Indian team that it had produced some many top batsmen in the modern era,” he added.
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Another former captain and ex-wicketkeeper Rashid Latif said Tendulkar was a role model for the gentleman’s game.
“I had heard a lot of about him when I first played against him but what struck me was his simple nature. I don’t recall a match in which I saw him being over-aggressive, brash or sledge someone. That is what makes him such a great cricketer. He uses aggression to his own benefit,” he said.
Former wicketkeeper batsman Moin Khan said Tendulkar was a perfectionist who would be hard to replace in world cricket.
“There was perfection in his batting then and it is the same now. Obviously he is a human being and he has also failed many times but overall I don’t think I have seen a bigger batsman than him in my time,” Moin said.