Kambli hits out at Shoaib Akhtar over Sachin claim

Mumbai: Former India cricketer Vinod Kambli on Friday lashed out at retired Pakistani pacer Shoaib Akhtar for claiming that iconic Indian batsman and his long time buddy Sachin Tendulkar was afraid of his bowling.

"Sachin was never scared of Shoaib or anyone. The way he plays his cricket and has scored the highest runs (in Tests and ODIs)...No one is close to him and no one can speak about him like that," Kambli told reporters here after announcing his retirement from first-class cricket.

In a lighter vein, the left-hander, who shared a world-record 664-run partnership with Tendulkar in school- level cricket in 1980s, said, "He feared only my bowling."

Akhtar has claimed in his recently released biography, `Controversially Yours`, that Tendulkar was afraid of facing him.

Kambli also refuted allegations that he had accused Tendulkar of not helping him in times of need, while taking part in TV reality show `Sach ka Saamna` two years back.

"We have a very good friendship since 25 years."

The 39-year-old, who represented India in 17 Tests scoring 1,084 runs at an average of 54.20 besides 2,477 runs in 104 ODIs, said though he wanted to play alongside Tendulkar for one last time and also in the Indian Premier League (IPL), but that could not happen.

"Till the last year, I was raring to go. My fans wanted me to play even in the IPL. If Sachin is fit at this age, why can`t I be?

"I served Mumbai (cricket) for long, but the selectors ignored me. I`m disappointed," he said, getting emotional.

"I performed well in Test cricket but unfortunately I didn't have a long career. I was the fastest to score 1,000 runs (in Tests for India). I thank the BCCI, Mumbai cricket for whatever they have given me," Kambli maintained.

Kambli said his tears during India's loss in the 1996 World Cup semi-final against Sri Lanka at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata were real and he had cried for the nation.

"The emotions that came out during the 1996 World Cup were true. I cried for the nation. I thought seriously that we had the talent to win that World Cup. We were in a strong position and then we faltered."

Kambli, who has also played first-class cricket for South African team Boland, said he had informed about his decision to retire to Tendulkar, along with his coaches and family member, and he has wished him well.

He said he wished to take up coaching and produce good cricketers.

Kambli has scored 9,964 runs, including 35 centuries, from 129 first-class matches with an average of 59.67.


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