‘He would play me easily’: Shoaib Akhtar names India batsman who was difficult to play against

Mohammad Azharuddin and VVS Laxman, the two Indian cricketers with the most silken wristwork wouldn’t be Akhtar’s pick either, and even though Virender Sehwag and MS Dhoni never had much trouble against Akhtar’s pace.
A dejected Shoaib Akhtar of Pakistan during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003.(Getty Images)
A dejected Shoaib Akhtar of Pakistan during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003.(Getty Images)
Updated on Aug 10, 2020 08:45 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Delhi | Byhindustantimes.com

Many Indian batsmen over the years have been at the receiving end of Shoaib Akhtar’s lethal pace, but it turns out there’s always been this one batsman, whom the former Pakistan quick feels did not have much trouble batting against him. Judging by Akhtar’s claims in the past, it’s definitely not Sachin Tendulkar and a look at videos on YouTube would suggest it wasn’t Sourav Ganguly either.

Mohammad Azharuddin and VVS Laxman, the two Indian cricketers with the most silken wristwork wouldn’t be Akhtar’s pick either, and even though Virender Sehwag and MS Dhoni never had much trouble against Akhtar’s pace, the Rawalpindi Express is talking about someone else entirely. Which leaves us with one name. That’s right, it’s Rahul Dravid.

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“If a batsman used to play, like Rahul Dravid, we would bowl him length balls. From close to the stump we would aim at the gap between bat and pad, try to hit the ball on the pad,” Akhtar said in a chat with Aakash Chopra on his YouTube channel.

Akhtar went on to reveal an incident regarding Dravid and how he and former teammate Shahid Afridi thought of a plan to get The Wall out. Akhtar did not exactly mention the match but by his description, the former pacer seems to be pointing towards the final of the Pepsi Cup in the year 1999 that involved Sri Lanka as the third team. India and Pakistan made it to the final, where chasing a 292 to win, Ajay Jadeja-led Indian team had lost early wickets.

“There was a final match in Bangalore, I had dismissed Sadagoppan Ramesh early, we took 3-4 wickets early. Sachin Tendulkar was not playing. Shahid Afridi and I said Rahul Dravid will take a lot of time and it’s Friday night today. Afridi said bowl something and take his wicket else he will play for long,” Akhtar recalled.

“I hit him directly on the pad and urged the umpire to raise his fingers. I even said it’s our Friday night. He did not give the decision in our favour but we had won in the end. Dravid was a difficult and determined batsman. It was difficult for me as well as him. He would play against me easily.”

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Saturday, November 27, 2021