BIRMINGHAM: Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar, in his prime, was regarded as one of the most lethal bowlers in the international circuit. The ‘Rawalpindi Express’ used to bowl over 90 miles an hour during those times and was a feared name in many batting camps.
Akhtar decimated many batting forces with his bizarre pace as he went on to scalp over 400 international wickets for Pakistan. The speedster’s reputation of being a fiery bowler was evident many a time when batsmen used to fear while taking guard against him.
Speaking on The Broken Trophy podcast, England World Cup winner Liam Plunkett recalled the terrifying experience of facing a pumped-up Shoaib Akhtar on his Test debut against Pakistan at Lahore in 2005.
Plunkett conceded that watching and facing Akhtar during that match, which the hosts won by an innings and 100 runs, was “frightening stuff”. Akhtar even trapped Plunkett lbw for a duck in the second innings of the match.
“I faced Shoaib Akhtar in my first-ever Test match. Because I played with Durham before that, I was marking my run-up before the Test, and he just smiled and said ‘I’m gonna kill you’ and laughed.
“I remember it like it was yesterday because I had my bat, at that time – you think [now] these bats are so thick and stuff – but it was Kashmir willow, it was really thin. And I was sat ready to bat, I was next in, and the TV screen’s right there, so you can see it’s like 96, 97, 96 [miles per hour]. Ashley Giles’ stumps get taken out, and I walk out to a guy who’s bowling 90 miles an hour.
“I don’t know how much Colly (Paul Collingwood) was on, but he was batting nicely, and often in county cricket when you go out there, ‘Is he bowling quick?’ and generally it’s ‘Oh yeah but it’s skiddy and that but you’re alright’, and Colly was like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s f**kin’ rapid mate’.