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Wasim leaves impossible legacy

Pakistan's Wasim Akram confessed that the thought of breaking the 500 wicket barrier had kept him awake the night before.

india Updated: Feb 26, 2003 14:22 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Pakistan's Wasim Akram confessed that the thought of breaking the 500 international one-day wicket barrier had kept him awake the night before he finally realised his dream.

Now he can rest easy that the remarkable achievement will probably never be bettered.

Even his skipper Waqar Younis, who is second on the all-time list with 414 victims compared to his teammate's new mark of 502, confessed that he will never make it that far.

"I salute the man. It is an outstanding performance," said Waqar.

"I respect what he's achieved and I don't see anyone else taking 500 wickets. It is a helluva job he has done for the country."

Only 16 players have taken more than 200 wickets in the history of the one-day game and four of those - Craig McDermott, Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose and Kapil Dev - have long since retired.

Furthermore, of the five men who have broken the 300-wicket barrier, India's Javagal Srinath is most likely to retire after the World Cup while Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka hinted he will stop playing one-dayers after the tournament.

Murali, with 314 victims, is on the verge of quitting one-day cricket after seeing the damage Shane Warne inflicted on his shoulder during a one-dayer last season. The Sri Lankan has also been sidelined with a groin injury.

Anyway, Muralitharan has a much bigger dream. With 437 Test victims, he has Walsh's world record of 519 in his sights and by avoiding the slam-bang nature of limited overs cricket, he can concentrate his mind on his real target.

"It's possible as long as you're fit and I would like to play for another five years," said the Sri Lankan star.

"If I can play another 40 Tests and average five a match - that's 200 wickets."

But coach Dav Whatmore said Muralitharan's future depended on his ability to stay free of the injuries which have dogged him.

"He's got no regard for his body sometimes the way he throws it around the field," Whatmore said.

"He will need to be a little bit careful from the fitness side of things but his skill level is getting better and better."

Akram, who reached the golden 500 when he forced Netherlands' Nick Statham to play on in his second over of the World Cup win in Paarl on Tuesday, admitted the pressure is off him now.

"I was really under pressure and Monday night. I was like any youngster. I couldn't sleep," said Akram who nominated the delivery that dismissed England's Chris Lewis in the 1992 World Cup final in Melbourne as his best as it won the World Cup for the first and only time for Pakistan.

It also assured him of the man of the match award.

If that was the pinnacle, then there were some low points.

"There have been plenty of controversies down the years and when I first played for Pakistan in Faisalabad in 1984 I had to buy a pair of shoes.

"I didn't have any spikes - but I have plenty of them now."

First Published: Feb 26, 2003 14:22 IST