New Delhi: Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar has revealed his “sad secret” about the 2003 World Cup match against India which his team lost by six wickets.
In the group-stage match played on March 1, 2003 at Centurion in South Africa, the Pakistan team failed to defend a target of 274. India rode on Sachin Tendulkar’s brilliant 98 to chase down the target with more than four overs to spare.
In a video posted on his Youtube channel, Akhtar has revealed how his fitness and poor captaincy from then skipper Waqar Younis came in Pakistan’s way of registering their first-ever win over India at the World Cup.
“The most disappointing match for me in my entire career was the 2003 World Cup match against India at Centurion. We had failed to defend a target of 274 despite having a very good bowling line-up,” said Akhtar.
The ‘Rawalpindi Express’ revealed that the night before the match, he had to take 4-5 injections on his left knee because of which it became numb. “Because of the injections water had filled up in my left knee and there was no sensation in it.”
“After the end of our innings, I told my teammates that we have probably scored 30-40 runs less. However, all the players in the team shouted at me saying if ‘273 is not enough then what is’. They said we will be able to get India all out. However, I knew that the pitch was a good one for batting and it will remain so in the second innings as well.”
“When we started the bowling, I noticed that my left knee had gone numb. Because of which, I wasn’t able to run properly through my bowling run-up. As a result I was not able to bowl properly. Indian openers, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, went for the charge from the word go. In fact, Sachin played me very well and even hit me for a six over point.
“I had no clue how to bowl and get the breakthrough. Unfortunately, the captain (Waqar Younis) got me out of the attack. He brought me later in the innings where I just bowled fast and short. I got out Sachin at 98 on a short-pitched delivery. I told the captain that I should have persisted with such bowling from the very beginning. In the end we lost the match,” he added.
The 43-year-old went for 72 runs in that match and picked up the sole wicket of Sachin, but by then the match was already in India’s pocket.
“It was a bitter experience for me because we could have defeated India, both in 1999 and 2003, but we couldn’t. Not to take the credit away from India who have played us exceeding well at the World Cups,” Akhtar, a veteran of 46 Tests and 163 ODIs, said.
“I still regret that loss. If we could have scored some more runs and bowled better, we could have won that match. But unfortunately, my fitness came in the way and also, it was poor captaincy that made us lose that match,” he added.
India and Pakistan have faced each other seven times in World Cups, and the Men in Blue have won each time.