5 Sachin Tendulkar-Shoaib Akhtar battles we will never forget
#2 2003 World Cup
Excitement was at fever pitch for the clash between two sub-continent cricketing powerhouses at the 2003 World Cup. India, who had never lost to Pakistan in a World Cup match, had the odds stacked against them with the bowling might of the two W’s – Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis – and the terrifying Akhtar.
In pursuit of 274, Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag were tasked with getting India off to a flier, and it was the former who rose to the challenge. Keen to make a statement, Tendulkar set out to bully Akhtar in his very first over - and just the second of the innings – and produced the most memorable passage of play in his ODI career. First, an exquisite upper-cut went sailing over point and into the stands, a strike which was complemented on the next delivery with an effortless flick off the legs which whisked away to the boundary. Then, Tendulkar eased into a straight drive, which breezed sweetly along the ground for four more, to complete a trio of majestic shots.
The three strokes off Akhtar took the wind out of the speedster – his prickly pace had been thwarted with glorious grace, and Tendulkar’s 98 from 75 balls was the showcase innings in a World Cup he dominated. The only salvation for Akhtar was that he ended up getting Tendulkar out. However, the damage was done and India cruised to a six-wicket win and maintained their unbeaten record against Pakistan in the event.