While speaking to Star Sports, Mohammad Kaif shared his experiences of stitching together a match-winning partnership with Sachin Tendulkar against Pakistan at Centurion in the 2003 World Cup.
He recalled having been asked to just stay at the crease while Sachin Tendulkar was going about dismantling the Pakistan attack, displaying monk-like focus.
"I was told to just stay there. Sachin didn't believe in talking too much. When Sachin Paaji is batting, it is like a meditation. He is in his own different zone. So he doesn't like talking too much."
Mohammad Kaif disclosed that Sachin Tendulkar would admonish his batting partner if the latter would try to appreciate the little man's strokes, as it would disturb his concentration and flow.
"If someone goes and tells him what a shot he had played, he would ask you to stay quiet and let him bat. He didn't like it at all if someone goes and tells him how well he was batting and how good the ball was going from his bat or that it was his day."
The Delhi Capitals assistant coach observed that Sachin Tendulkar would meticulously plan his innings with the field placements at the back of his mind.
"He knows where the gap is and he would know in his mind where the fielders are standing and how to push for that extra run. His planning was at a different level."
Mohammad Kaif on the strokes Sachin Tendulkar played during the much-acclaimed knock
Mohammad Kaif also recalled the sumptuous strokes that Sachin Tendulkar played, especially against Shoaib Akhtar, during the match-defining knock.
"The six he hit of Shoaib Akhtar over point and the flick after that to fine-leg for a boundary."
Shoaib Akhtar turned back the pages to the 2003 World Cup, recollecting how a Sachin Tendulkar masterclass drowned Pakistan in Centurion, and how it is still fondly remembered by the fans.https://t.co/KJAXs9eCd7— Express Sports (@IExpressSports) April 18, 2020
Kaif opined that the flick was Sachin Tendulkar's strength, as the latter would rarely miss the ball to be dismissed LBW or bowled.
"That is Sachin's strength that he never gets LBW, he never missed the ball. That is why he was such a great batsman because the bowler has that weapon to bring the ball in and get the batsman bowled or LBW, that happened to Sachin very few times in his career."
Mohammad Kaif commended the six over point that Sachin Tendulkar struck against Shoaib Akhtar, terming it an extremely difficult shot to play with his heavy bat against an express pace bowler.
"The six over point, the iconic shot that is shown again and again, is a shot he never plays. Very rarely have we seen him playing that shot. I have seen him punch the ball or hitting shots on the rise but that upper cut, with his heavy bat playing against a bowler who is bowling at over 150 kph is a very difficult shot."
Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammad Kaif strung together a 102-run partnership for the third wicket against Pakistan at Centurion in the 2003 World Cup. This alliance and Sachin Tendulkar's blazing knock of 98 runs off just 75 deliveries helped India chase down a tough 274-run target with 6 wickets in hand and more than 4 overs to spare.
“The game against Pakistan was the biggest of my life. The buzz over this match had started in 2002 …"#OnThisDay in 2003, @sachin_rt hit 98 and passed 12,000 ODI runs as India beat Pakistan at the @cricketworldcup in Centurion! pic.twitter.com/amfyLS00Yc— ICC (@ICC) March 1, 2018