Dumanimail ,29/3 : Sachin Tendulkar on Tuesday paid rich tribute to the late Shane Warne, recalling his memories with the Australian against whom he always had to prepare as the spin legend was good in playing mind games. Warne, 52, tragically died due to a suspected heart attack on March 4 while on holiday in Thailand. “It was in the year 1991 that I played against him. We were playing a practice game against Prime Minister’s XI. And here comes a stocky, strong, blonde guy bowling leg-spin. By that time I had played a couple of years of international cricket and the focus was on the rest of the attack. But Shane came and bowled some incredible deliveries,” said Tendulkar in a video shared on Instagram. “He was not as accurate compared to what he became towards the latter part of his career but it was evident that he had strong fingers, good wrist position, strong shoulders and gave it a good rip. I was beaten on a couple of occasions as the ball spun. On Australian surfaces, the ball didn’t spin initially but as the match progressed, the ball started turning. But Shane was someone who was able to spin the ball from Day 1.” While Tendulkar had many fierce battles with Warne, the batting legend remembered the 1998 series in India and said: “My first proper series against Shane Warne was in 1998 in India and everyone tagged that series as Tendulkar versus Shane Warne clash. And to remind people that it’s not Tendulkar versus Shane but it is India vs Australia. But such was the following. “That kind of following is going to put you under pressure. When you are playing a world class bowler like him, you just can’t turn up and hope that things are going to be okay. So I had to prepare properly, not just out being there at the nets but when you’re sitting in the room, you have to be a step ahead of him, what he would be thinking because he was extremely good in putting pressure and playing mind games and trying to plan your dismissal.” He further said, “It didn’t matter, you looked at his body language. One didn’t know whether Warne had picked up four wickets, five wickets or he was bowling wicketless. Every delivery that he bowled, he was a fierce competitor.
So even if you’re facing the second last over of the day, one had to keep their eyes open, because he was always up to something and trying to figure out how could he dismissed.” Tendulkar also pointed out “there were number of good spinners, but Shane was different”. “One of those very few bowlers against whom you couldn’t hit the ball on the rise. He was someone if you did not get to the pitch of the ball, there was no way one was expected to go and drive on the rise. That was his class the way he got the ball to drift and that can only happen if you have strong shoulders and you’re giving it a rip, the ball drifts down the leg and then spinning away from you. “I had to also practice because till then nobody had bowled round the wicket in the rough, trying to get you out. It was usually bowled to keep things under control. If the batter was scoring runs, to kind of slow him down. But Shane was actually looking to get the batter out, so one had to prepare the defensive and attacking options.” Tendulkar also revealed his last meeting with Warne in London and recalled the two enjoyed playing golf together. “After the last IPL, I went to England to spend some time in London where we got in touch with each other and also planned a round of golf. It was fun. When Shane was around, there was never a dull moment. He was full of entertainment and jokes and those mini battles that we used had, I realised it was not just the spin but also the swing that came naturally to him. He was a good golfer. I hate saying he was because we have to accept what has happened. For us, he will continue to live in our hearts. “It was the physical meeting I enjoyed with him in London but even post that, I remember my last message to him was when he met with a bike accident. I said ‘hope you are okay, everything is fine?’ He said ‘I just took my bike out for a spin and it skidded and I am injured but I should be fine’. So my response to that was – ‘you could spin the ball the way you wanted to but taking out your bike for a spin isn’t a good idea, my friend’. And he responded by saying ‘he was on pain killers for 4-5 days and that he should be okay.’ “It is really hard to accept that he is no more and it’ so tough for his family and friends. My condolences to all his family members and friends. It’s going to be tough, we will continue missing him. It’s hard to put in words what I feel but all we can do is pray for him and may his soul rest in peace.”