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Sachin Tendulkar stayed focused despite Shahid Afridi abuse, Virender Sehwag recalls 2003 World Cup encounter

Virender Sehwag has finally revealed what happened on the pitch during Sachin Tendulkar’s spellbinding shot against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup, recounting how the hitter remained focused despite sledding. He went on to comment on the India-Pakistan rivalry and what it entails.

Sachin Tendulkar over his career produced many memorable rounds and ended up with 100 centuries through ODIs and Tests. Yet his most memorable shot remains perhaps the 98 he scored against Pakistan in a group stage match at the 2003 World Cup. After just 75 balls, the Little Master demolished a team fierce bowling including Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younes and Wasim Akram– three of the greatest fast bowlers ever produced.

One man who had the honor of watching it all up close was Tendulkar’s opening partner, Virender Sehwag. Even though he fell for just 21 runs while chasing 276, the offensive batter was lucky to be on the court when Sachin hit Akhtar for 18 runs in his first inning of the game. He was also recalled to the field as a runner for Sachin later. In a video released by Star Sports, Sehwag recounted how the Indian legend lived up to expectations and all he had to endure to achieve the feat.

“We knew it was an important game. But Tendulkar had so much experience, he had played so many games against Pakistan…he knew he had to prepare for it. If I have to consider his shots in the World Cup, it was his best. I also came to run for him during the game because he had cramps, and Pakistan Shahid Afridi abused him a lot, kept saying one thing or the other. But he stayed focused. He knew it was important for him to stay in the fold. He doesn’t usually take a runner, but he still knew that if I come, I’ll run like him. There will be no misunderstanding,” he told the Hindsutan Times.

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Hostilities between India and Pakistan are expected to resume in Asian Cup later this month in the United Arab Emirates. The two teams can play each other up to three times during the tournament, before meeting again at World T20 in October.

“Whatever the series (ICC tournament or bilateral), the match between India and Pakistan is always intense. And we will always see fights or incidents between players from both countries. And I remember there was a statement from Shoaib Akhtar that he would absolutely destroy the higher order. I didn’t read the statement, nor did Sachin, but Sachin responded strongly to it in the first run of our innings. He managed 18 points in that race,” recalls Sehwag.

The two great rivals will meet at the Dubai International Stadium on August 28 to open their Asian Cup campaigns.

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