Legendary pace bowlers Dale Steyn and James Anderson said Indian batting great Sachin Tendulkar made them be at their best every time he came out to bat.

The Proteas great, who recently retired from Test cricket, spoke about the demi god-like status Tendulkar enjoys in his country. It made Steyn feel demoralised after being hit for a boundary with thousands breaking into loud cheers from the stands.

“When he came in, you had to up your focus and hit the top of off stump. Especially in India, if you could maybe bring the ball back in, he could get out LBW but he was so good, he rarely got out that way. If you bowl a bad ball to him and he hits you for four from nought especially in India, it feels like the world is closing in on you. He might just 4, not out but he might as well be batting on 500. You don’t want to bowl a bad ball and just hope; because he’s got it covered, has every shot in the book,” Steyn said.

Anderson also spoke earlier about the need to remain focussed when bowling to Tendulkar.

“I don’t really remember having a specific game plan against Tendulkar. I just remember that once he came in I went in my mind: ‘I CANNOT bowl a bad ball here.’ He is that good a player and so key for India,” Anderson said.

“Particularly in India, when you got him out, the whole atmosphere in the ground changed. He was such a big wicket, you just focus so much on bowling your best ball. Top of off stump, and hope he misses a straight one. In England he might nick the odd one, but I generally tried to get him LBW early. I got success against him but he scored against us quite a lot too.”

South Africa pace ace Steyn also claimed that umpire Ian Gould deliberately didn’t award a leg-before decision to South Africa while batting Tendulkar was en route to scoring the first double century in men’s One-day International cricket.

Tendulkar got to the landmark in 2010 in the final One-day International of a bilateral series. India scored a humongous 401/3 following Tendulkar’s heroics and skipper MS Dhoni’s cameo towards the end of the innings.

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“Tendulkar scored a lot of runs against us. He got the first double hundred in ODI cricket, and it was against us in Gwalior,” Steyn said in a Sky Sports vodcast that also featured Anderson and former England cricketers Rob Key and Nasser Hussain.

“And I remember – I think I got him out lbw when he was about 190-odd. Ian Gould was the umpire, and he gave him not out. And I was like, ‘Why, why did you give him not out? That’s so dead.’ And he was like: ‘Mate, look around – if I gave him out, I won’t make it back to the hotel’,” Steyn added with a laugh.

Update: However, statistician Rajneesh Gupta debunked Steyn’s claims on Twitter.

You can watch the hour-long vodcast here where the two pace bowling legends share some great insights about their bowling.

The part about Sachin Tendulkar is at 41:30 in the video

You can read more about what Steyn and Anderson had to say here.