Indian pacer Mohammad Shami has credited former Pakistan great Wasim Akram for playing a crucial role in his progression as a bowler.
While speaking with Indian batsman Manoj Tiwari in an Instagram live session, the 29-year-old recalled the details of his first encounter with Akram, while the latter was the bowling coaching of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).
“When I came to KKR, I realised the skill and value associated with cricket. I watched Wasim Akram all my life on television, but with KKR, I had the chance to learn from him,” said Shami. “During the initial days, I was not even able to talk to him. Wasim Bhai came up to me then, and he initiated the conversation with me and started telling me things about bowling. He read me very quickly, he realised what I am all about and I learnt a lot from him.”
“If you have someone that experienced close to you, then you should not shy away and try to learn as many things as possible,” he added.
The 29-year-old also revealed that he used to enjoy the bowling of Akram during crucial encounters between arch-rivals India and Pakistan.
“When we were growing up, we used to witness that India and Pakistan used to be the most intense matches,” he said. “So when it came to bowling, I used to look at Zaheer Khan. When India and Pakistan would play against each other, I used to like Wasim Akram as well. I followed both despite them being left-arm pacers.”
Three years ago, the first coach of Shami in Uttar Pradesh, Badruddin, had also shared how the Indian pacer learned the art of reverse swing from Akram.
“Wasim Akram is the man who taught him about the tricks of reverse swing. Shami had great determination and he got lucky to get a teacher like Akram,” said Badruddin.