‘The Rawalpindi Express’ is surely a phenomenon of world cricket. To clock over 150 km/h so consistently in a career is no small feat! With this speed, he struck fear into the hearts of some of the great batsmen. His vicious bouncers were deadly, something modern bowlers have tried hard to replicate but in many cases failed. Let’s embark on a journey and look at some of his best performances!
6/17 VS New Zealand - First ODI, Karachi, 2002
At the peak of his career, a young and fiery Shoaib Akhtar dismantled the Kiwis in the first ODI of their tour to Pakistan, in which he also recorded his fastest delivery. After Wasim and Waqar had gotten rid of the openers, the Rawalpindi Express went rampaging through the middle order, demolishing the Kiwis for just 122 and setting up a 153-run win for Pakistan.
4/71 VS India - Asian Test Championship, Kolkata, 1999
Even though he secured better figures of 4/47 in this famous Pakistan Test win over their rivals, this innings was special for Akhtar. The quality of the batsmen that fell victim to him was outstanding. Akhtar had dismissed VVS Laxman early in the innings. Rahul Dravid and Sadagoppan Ramesh were comfortable at the crease with the score at 147-2 off 50 overs, until an unplayable in-swinging yorker destroyed India’s ‘Wall’. Right after Rahul Dravid’s departure, Shoaib clean-bowled India’s star man Sachin Tendulkar for a golden duck. These two deliveries steered the match into Pakistan’s direction.
Source: The Express Tribune
5/25 VS Australia - Third ODI, Brisbane, 2002
This match gave us possibly Shoaib’s greatest ODI spell. Pakistan had posted 256, which, thanks to Akhtar’s heroics was enough to win in Australia. Ponting, DR Martyn, Lehmann, Michael Bevan, and Jason Gillespie were among his victims, which stands testament to the sheer quality of this spell.
6/11 VS New Zealand - First Test, Lahore, 2002
It would not be wrong to say that the Kiwis were one of Akhtar’s favourite opponents, if not the favourite. Pakistan had posted a mammoth 643 in the first innings, and Akhtar’s fiery pace ensured this match was a walkover with his figures of 6/11 contributing to the Kiwis’ dismissal for just 73. Pakistan won the Test by the enormous margin of an innings and 324 runs!
Feature Image Source: Sportskeeda