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31 Jan '99 - An inconsolable Sachin says . . .

"I'm disappointed"


Sachin Tendulkar looked like a lost child. The defeat hurt him. ''I'm disappointed, I'm disappointed,'' murmured Tendulkar. His brilliance had taken India to the threshold of victory. It was a matter of 17 more runs when what one dreaded would happen, happened, the side collapsed after his dismissal.

Tendulkar resembled a child whose favourite toy had been snatched away. India's victory was his dream. He had worked hard for it and as he said, ''I should have reached the target myself. It was my intention to stay there till the end.''

Sachin Tendulkar at ChennaiTendulkar said the strain he developed in his groin and the back before tea had aggravated and in turn disturbed his concentration. ''I was striking the ball well and when the strain aggravated I could not go through with the follow-through. Every time I tried that the pain

Asked whether he would regard this knock as one of his best, Tendulkar said, ''had we won the match this would have been my best knock.'' Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram said Tendulkar's dismissal made the difference. ''We knew, once Tendulkar was out, we would be back in the game,'' said Akram, who regards this victory as one of the greatest moments of his career.

''It was a team effort. The boys played positively and were hungry for victory. We believed in ourselves. Even when India was 17 runs away from victory with Sachin batting, we did not give it up. We knew if we dismissed Sachin, we would get the rest. The boys made me proud and Pakistan proud,'' added Akram. About Tendulkar's knock, Akram said, ''It is the best innings I have
seen under pressure. He is rated as the best batsman in the world today and he proved it once more. He was solid, very positive and calm.''

Asked to compare Gavaskar's 96 in the 1987 Bangalore Test with Tendulkar's knock, Akram, who played in that game, said, ''That was a different era. They are two different players, both great. I would not be able to differentiate between the two knocks. Both the matches ran to the finish. Then, Gavaskar had played one of the best knocks I have seen under pressure on a turning pitch.''

Akram, who has a groin problem, was seen pushing himself really hard for victory. ''I've done it in the past. I had six to seven brufen tablets between morning and lunch today. I just wanted to carry on with my pain. I think I can bear it because my team was looking up to me and if I went off the team would have gone down. I was trying my best,'' Akram said. He added that Saqlain was the best off-spinner in the world now.

Akram said this victory would help the boys to regain confidence after a bad season last year.

Azharuddin expressed his disappointment with the defeat. ''We were slightly negative in our approach to start with today. Sachin and Mongia did a great job. Sadly it was not enough in the end. It was a close match, cricket was the big winner.''