“He is one of the best without any doubt and if I had to vote for the best sportsman of the century I would not hesitate for a second to give it to Sachin.” -Photo by AFP
KARACHI: Famed Pakistan fast bowler Wasim Akram said on Thursday he hoped Indian batting great Sachin Tendulkar would play his final Test farewell against Pakistan in Kolkata.
World record run-getter Tendulkar, 40, is set to achieve the unique record of playing his 200th Test later this year against the West Indies, who have agreed to tour India.
Speculation is rife that Tendulkar might retire from all cricket after that or sometime early next year.
Tendulkar, regarded as one of the best batsmen to play the game, has so far scored 15,837 runs with 51 hundreds in 198 Tests and 18,426 in 463 one-days with 49 centuries -- all world records.
But Wasim, who played in Tendulkar's debut Test in Karachi in 1989, said Tendulkar's farewell Test should be against Pakistan.
“I have created an ideal scenario for his farewell Test: India playing Pakistan at Eden Gardens, Kolkata with a passionate crowd and both nations at a standstill,” Wasim told AFP.
“It could be the best farewell Tendulkar can have,” he added.
The Indian media has speculated that India may cancel their tour to South Africa later this year and invite Pakistan for a short two-Test tour.
The nuclear rivals have not played a full series since 2007, but there were hints that full ties may revive after India invited Pakistan for a short limited over series last December.
Recent tensions on the de facto border in the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir, however, have left 11 people dead since early August and are likely to make the prospect of a tour more remote.
Pakistan's domestic team Faisalabad Wolves, due to play in India's Champions League Twenty20 that starts September 17, are still waiting for clearance from New Delhi.
Wasim said sport should be separated from politics.
“Cricket, as always, has the capacity to bring the people of both nations closer,” said Wasim, who led a Pakistan tour of India in 1999 despite extremist threats.
Wasim said Tendulkar was also revered in Pakistan.
“He is a role model,” said Wasim.
“He is one of the best without any doubt and if I had to vote for the best sportsman of the century I would not hesitate for a second to give it to Sachin.
“Having played with him for years and having been in touch even after my retirement I have found him a true role model,” he said.
“I hope relations improve and my wish come true is that India and Pakistan play a Test sooner than later.”