The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘If Sachin isn’t matchwinner, no one is’
- Ashish Nehra reminds Wasim Akram of his younger days

New Delhi: His mentor Imran Khan might think otherwise, but Wasim Akram has no doubt about the fact that Sachin Tendulkar is a real matchwinner. Imran had said in a recent interview that Sachin does not qualify as a matchwinner, compared to the likes of Vivian Richards.

And there are some real words for encouragement for Ashish Nehra, who reminds the Sultan of Swing of his younger days.

“Sachin won the match for India against us at Centurion. I don’t understand who is a matchwinner if Sachin is not. No player can win matches for his team every time he comes on to the field,” Akram said.

However, Akram had no hesitation in naming Richards as his all-time favourite batsman.

“There was no one like Viv and there would be no one like him...It is the entire package, the way he would walk down and glare instead of me glaring at him. He had an aura about him.”

Talking of Nehra, Akram said: “He reminds me of myself when I was 15, especially because of his run-up. He is also lanky and passionate.”

He hoped Nehra, who is currently undergoing a rehabilitation programme for an injured ankle, will be fit for India’s tour of Australia.

The former Pakistan captain also had a word of advice for Shoaib Akhtar, who has found himself in the centre of controversy many a time in the recent past.

“He shouldn’t talk much and concentrate more on his performance. There is no use giving excuses. He should let the ball do the talking.”

But he does feel that the game’s administrators have been a “bit too strict”.

“Aggression has been a part of the game. Earlier it was discreet, but now, with the TV replays and all, it is more evident. Some aggression adds to the charm of the game. If you are too strict, you rob the charm.

The fast bowlers are justified in glaring to intimidate the batsmen and giving vent to their frustration somewhat. But of course, swearing and sledging is not the right thing with youngsters watching.”

The highest ODI wicket-taker feels too many one-day matches are leaving players “stale, bored and injured.”

Mohali pitch draws flak

The Mohali pitch Monday drew criticism from Akram, who said: “It was not an ideal preparation” for India’s upcoming tour of Australia.

“It is a flat track. Even I could go there and score a ton.”

Akram said India should either prepare pitches according to their strength and go for turning tracks or have sporting wickets with a tinge of grass. “But there is no point in having flat tracks. Such tracks are not the ideal preparation before a tour of Australia.

“You have to play on good wickets, otherwise you cannot do well outside (the country). And it is winning abroad which really matters,” he said.

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