By: Sports Desk |
Updated: August 13, 2022 4:14:07 pm
Shoaib Akhtar has the record of the fastest recorded delivery in the history of cricket – 161kmph (vs New Zealand, 2002). (File)
Nervous breaths. A whole bunch of nervous breaths. If only the stump mics were highly advanced and could capture even the faintest of audios, we would have a spine-chilling compilation of batters breathing nervously when they took guard against Shoaib Akhtar.
444 wickets in 224 international appearances will only be mentioned later when discussing the former Pakistan cricketer, who turns 47. For Akhtar didn’t earn the metaphor of an Express train for his wickets, but for the way he took them.
In a career spanning across 14 years, the Rawalpindi Express earner the repertoire of being a pace menace. Akhtar was the first to touch the 100mph mark, 100.2 mph (161kph) to be exact, when he bowled against England in the 2003 World Cup in Newlands, Cape Town.
Upon searching for the top 10 quickest deliveries in international cricket history, one will come across one name eight times, including the top six spots. All of the eight instances clocking more than 157kph. The only bowler to make it into the top 10 is Brett Lee. In fact, both of Akhtar and Lee have bowled the 18 quickest registered deliveries in international cricket and more than a decade after their retirement, the list remains unaltered.
With the bowling, came a way of celebrating cricket. When the Newlands crowd cheered to the display board reading the speed Akhtar had attained, the bowler drank the adulation in rather than simply moving on to the next ball. The delivery didn’t result in a wicket but Akhtar gifted the cameras and those watching a typical superstar response.
While 247 of his 444 international wickets came in the ODI format, Akhtar returned a whooping 178 wickets in the 46 Test matches that he played. With injuries marring his twilight years, the Rawalpindi Express featured in only 15 T20Is and picked 19 wickets.
Akhtar’s style of play added more to the India-Pakistan contests. His 69 wickets, most versus a single opposition, came against India.
☝️ 4️⃣4️⃣4️⃣ wickets in 224 international appearances
🎯 16 five-wicket hauls
⚡ Fastest-ever delivery recorded at 161.3 km/h
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) August 13, 2022
Even though he bowled only seven overs in Indian Premier League, Akhtar managed to add his special spice to the first edition of the IPL with the memorable 4fer for Kolkata against Delhi. The KKR owner Shahrukh Khan giving the bowler a bear hug and the latter lifting him up using his reliable right hand is a visual etched in the cultural relics of the league.
In many ways the 4/11 in that match and his words after sufficed the pacer. Akhtar had already picked 360 international wickets till 2005, the year he received a ban owing to testing positive for the usage of performance-enhancing substance nandrolone. Battling multiple injuries in the years that followed, he was unable to return back the incredible numbers that he’d produced in the first half of his career. In 2008, he’d only featured in three international matches for Pakistan.
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“I’m just there to enjoy my game. I’ve got no point to prove to anyone. I’ve had a stressful few months and I’d like to thank everybody in the dressing room,” said the player of the match and Eden Gardens’ favorite of the night.
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First published on: 13-08-2022 at 04:12:49 pm
- Shoaib Akhtar