Monday, February 1, 2016

Wasim Akram, The Sultan of Swing - Pakistani Fast Bowling Greats

Pakistan has always been able to produce quality fast bowlers and they have always had my fascination and respect in that particular regard. Some of the best bowlers I grew up adoring were the pace bowlers from the neighbouring country. An Indian cricket fan is always in awe of the fast bowling talent that Pakistan seems to yield on an almost everyday basis! In the post I'll write about the best left arm bowler I've seen and was blessed enough to watch him bowl some extraordinary spells.

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram came into the Pakistan side when their talismanic player Javed Miandad spotted his talent at a fast bowling trail held in Lahore. Wasim first appeared for Pakistan as an 18 year old in 1984 when he made his ODI debut against the Kiwi side. He would play his first test shortly and claimed 10 wickets in only his 2nd test match.

Known for his quick arm action, Wasim had the ability to both swing and seam the ball and his Fantastico control and high pace made him a genuine threat for any opposition batsman. He was known to conceal the ball during his run-up so that the batsman could not get a view of the ball, especially when he reverse swung the ball. It was almost impossible to play him when the ball began to reverse swing, he was a master exponent of the practise having mastered the art meticulously. Most of his wickets came by the way of bowled and leg before wicket as he had a ripping yorker in his arsenal.

Wasim was the key figure in Pakistan’s World Cup victory achieved under Imran Khan in 1992 in Australia. Wasim blasted a 33 off just 18 balls to propel them to a more than useful score of 249. He would them go on to claim 3 wickets in his 10 overs including the key wickets of Lamb and Lewis, both getting out bowled to the reverse swinging ball. Wasim played 356 ODI matches in total and picked up a whopping 502 wickets with an economy rate of under 4 runs per over.

He was also a very handy lower order batsman who was known for his ability to tonk the ball long and hard. His innings of 257* against Zimbabwe in 1996 while coming in at number 8 stands testimony to his batting capabilities.

He led Pakistan to the finals of the 1999 Cricket World Cup and was their highest wicket taker in the 2003 World Cup but was dumped unceremoniously from the team shortly as Pakistan had failed to qualify for the super 6 stage of that tournament. He claimed 414 wickets in 104 tests at an impressive strike rate of 54.

His control and accuracy while delivering the ball at high speed and the ability to move the ball both ways, in the air and off the wicket made him one of the most dangerous fast bowlers to have ever played the game. He continues to have a positive impact on cricket as a coach, commentator and grooms various young fast bowlers teaching them the finer nuances of the art that he was a master of!!

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