Akram, Waqar pay tribute to "special" Tendulkar

Karachi: Pakistan pace legends Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis on Monday paid glowing tributes to Sachin Tendulkar on his retirement from One-Day Internationals, terming the Indian cricketer as "the greatest batsman of modern era".

The 39-year-old Tendulkar announced his retirement ODIs yesterday, just days before India and Pakistan clash in a three-match ODI series that will mark the revival of bilateral cricketing ties between the two countries since 2007.

Akram, who played against Tendulkar many times in an illustrious career, said that he was fortunate to have played in an era that featured the Indian batting maestro.

"I have no doubt in my mind that he was the greatest batsman of the modern era and I don`t see another like him coming soon," Akram said.

"It was a privilege to play against him," he added.

Tendulkar announced his retirement after scoring 18,426 runs in 463 ODIs with 49 centuries ? all three world records for most runs, matches and hundreds.

Akram pointed out that for a batsman to play at the highest level and score 100 international centuries was a phenomenal achievement.

"I credit him a lot for maintaining the fitness and level of endurance and concentration to play at this level for so long. It is a hard job," he said.

Akram said he had found Tendulkar to be a technically very correct player.

"He was so passionate about his batting and always hungry for runs. I don`t see his records being eclipsed very soon."

Akram pace partner Waqar, who made his Test debut alongside Tendulkar in the 1989 Karachi Test, said he had always felt that Tendulkar was "special".

"We knew from the first match he played against us that he was special. He was also very gutsy and courageous because he faced one of the best pace attacks in his first series," Waqar noted.

"In that series we slowly began to realise that here was a special talent and he proved this in years to come. It was always a challenge to bowling at him."

Former Pakistan captain Inzamamul Haq said that whenever he played against India he knew that the key wicket was always Tendulkar`s.

"India depended so much on him and what surprises me is that Tendulkar withstood all this pressure all these years to set so many records which will be difficult to break in years to come," he said.

"He was a gentleman and soft spoken and for a sportsman, who is idolised by millions, his conduct was always impeccable. He is truly a role model for young cricketers."

Former skippers Moin Khan and Rashid Latif also praised Tendulkar and said he had taken the right decision by retiring from ODIs.

"He went out on a high. The problem is that he had set such high standards that people always expected big scores from him and he handled this pressure very well," Latif said.

Moin, though, was little surprised at the timing of Tendulkar`s decision to quit ODIs.

"He should have played against Pakistan in the coming series but it is his personal decision and he knows best," he said.

"But as a cricketer he has left behind a legacy for Indian players which will be hard to live upto," Moin added.