Got a standing ovation from Chennai crowd: Wasim Akram explains why 1999 India tour was his ‘favourite’
India-Pakistan encounters have always been high-voltage ones. The quality of cricket coupled with the tension between the two nations has always produced memorable series and matches. Remembering one such series , former Pakistan captain and arguably one of the greatest left-arm seamers the world has seen, Wasim Arkam said the 1999 tour to India was his favourite.
Akram said he would pick Pakistan’s tour of India in 1999 as his favourite one because they were touring India after long gap and they had managed to beat a power-packed Indian side in their own backyard in the first Test at Chennai.
“The 90s we won a lot against India. Nowadays it’s a different story. It’s the opposite. The tables have turned I suppose. If you talk about tours, I would pick an India tour. 1999 - We toured India after 10 years,” Akram told former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson in ‘Lessons Learnt with the Greats’ podcast.
Under Akram’s leadership, Pakistan won the first Test at Chennai by 12 runs despite a memorable hundred from Sachin Tendulkar on the last day. Akram said he had told his teammates to somehow keep the Chennai crowd quiet.
“I was the captain. The first Test was in Chennai. I told my boys, if the stadium is quiet then we are doing our job. So we would never get support in India and India would never get support in Pakistan. That was the thing,” said the 54-year old, regarded as one of the finest left-arm pacers the world has ever seen.
“Saqlain Mushtaq bowled a phenomenal over. The inventor of doosra. We got a standing ovation from the Chennai crowd. That was my favourite tour,” recalled Akram.
“Then in the second Test (Delhi), the pitch was dug so it had to be relaid. Kumble got 10 wickets. It was really a memorable tour.”
India had bounced back to beat Pakistan in the second Test match at Delhi to beat the visitors by 212 runs and square the series 1-1. The Akram-led side, however, won the next Test at Kolkata by 46 runs, which was part of the Asian Test Championship, to take away the bragging rights.
“I used to enjoy Indo-Pak pressure, used to take it in a positive way,” said Akram.
Akram also said in his two-decade long career, he always wanted to do well in Australia and England.
“England and Australia were the places where I wanted to perform. And against India, it was a different reason why I wanted to perform. Because once you perform against India, you get recognised in your country big time. Vice versa for India.”
Akram also pointed that he is not a big fan of gym sessions as he feels for a bowler you can only get better by making your bowling muscles work.
“I started gymming at the age of 33. Before that, I only used to run and bowl everyday.
“Cricketers are a lot fitter now. But bowling muscle will only get strengthened when you bowl. When I see them exercising in the gym, it doesn’t make any sense to me. People might say I am a 90s guy, and I am a 90s guy.”