In an exclusive interview with NDTV, former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar has defended his controversial autobiography 'Controversially Yours' and explained what he really meant by saying that Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid lacked the ability to finish a game. Here are some excerpts:
On 2006 Faisalabad Test: Sachin was scared
You have good days and bad days... I got hit by Sachin for 6. No big deal. On that particular day I didn't think he was comfortable. You have to read my book to know what I meant. Whatever I felt I said it. Not going to be justified not reading my book and making comments. Picking up a few lines and putting in headlines. If I had to get attention and create controversies I would have released the book a month ago and kept sending feelers to get attention. What I meant to say was something else... you have to read the book to understand. (Watch Full Interview)
On Dravid & Sachin - not match winners
People need to read book to understand what I meant with what I said at that period of time. Rahul and Sachin's achievements are there for everyone to see. Sachin has over 18,000 runs and is about get 100 centuries... cannot say he is not a good cricketer or that he is scared. What I felt at that moment on that day is what I have written. Read book... don't pick up lines and write.
On his bad days against Sachin and Dravid
In Multan (2004), I had to field for day and a half... legs were jammed... I couldn't walk... had so much knee pain throughout my career. That Test match was difficult...Sehwag had a perfect scenario before him... slow track... smashed around the park... I insisted to Pakistan curator and Board to make fast, lively pitches... ball should carry. If you do that, we had a better chance to win the Test series.
Is the controversy created to sell the book?
I have seen enough fame around the world. I am not going to pinpoint Sachin, Dravid, Ponting etc... don't want to create controversy to sell my book. I am a firm believeer in God. Anyone who has got respect, I have respected. You are creating controversy not anyone else. You have to understand the facts, the figures and the timings. You have to understand the time that I come from. I don't need to clarify things but I would never do anything to create controversy to sell my book. My story is there, I have opened my heart out so read my book.
On Shah Rukh Khan, IPL
I never said SRK cheated me or that Sachin was scared... It is just a few things that I felt at the time. IPL was a fantastic moment in my life - that I was loved by so many Bengalis... they even came to drop me to my room. SRK never betrayed me... always took care of me.. Whenever I came to India there was so much love... so much fan following... Please read the book. To understand where I come from. It is not about a few lines. SRK has taken care of me - taking me to his home, made sure media didn't trouble me. I left ICL - didn't want to leave my country by playing ICL... had a huge offer, huge chunk of money. But I wanted to play for Pakistan that's why I chose IPL. My only difference with SRK and Sourav - I told Sourav that I'm not comfortable with the money. Sourav told me that you were not bid for so this is the best price we can get for you, we will make it up later, Lalit Modi has promised it blah blah... those promises are the ones I have written about - not cheated or betrayed... just written about the incident.
On Shoaib Akhtar loving himself
When you're down and out you like to meet yourself again and again - whether you do the right or wrong things. Best realisation is when you try to become a better person and try to improve. Every passing moment is a chance to turn it all around. We never had a father figure. People are quoting from my book saying Wasim destroyed my career - all I said was that he did not want to play me... did not want to play me because he wanted to go along with same combo he was playing before. I was a young guy - I didn't know what to feel at that moment... just wrote what I felt then. Don't mix up the stroies or create a clash.
1999 Eden Gardens Test, walking up to Sachin
Sachin didn't know anything about me did he? So I just walked up to him and said - you'll get to know me. It was just a joke. He wouldn't remember that. I probably looked like an extra in the team. Sachin was great... I just said - Hi, I'm Shoaib and he just looked at me and was like whatever. Sachin's always been great - in what he has done for the game and what he has achieved.. what he has done for world cricket. I can't compare myself to Sachin... I'm nothing great. What I honestly felt, I have written that.