Yousuf would say ‘break his fingers I can’t play his spin’: Akhtar on bowling bouncers to Muralitharan
Pakistan bowling legend Shoaib Akhtar was known as ‘Rawalpindi Express’ for a reason. Akhtar’s strength on the cricket field was not only his ability to generate huge speed on his deliveries but the execution of it as well. The bounce and line-and-length at which Akhtar would bowl to batsmen would often leave the opposition batsmen feeling intimated whenever they would step out to face the seamer.
In a recent interview, Akhtar was asked if there was any player who would ask him to not hit him. In his reply, Akhtar recalled how Muttiah Muralitharan would ask him to not send bouncers his way.
Speaking to Pakistan broadcaster Sawera Pasha on her Youtube chat show Cric Cast, Akhtar said: “There were many who told me not to hit them. Muralitharan was one. Many Indian tailenders would tell me ‘don’t hit us, we have families’. Muralitharan would ask me to bowl slow, and he would get out.”
The former right-arm fast bowler further recalled how Mohammad Yousuf would ask him to bowl bouncers to Muralitharan.
“Yousuf would ask me to hit him. He would say ‘break his fingers I can’t play his spin’. I bowled Muralitharan a few bouncers but he said ‘don’t do this to me I will die if the ball hits me’,” Akhtar said with a smile on his face.
The former Pakistan speedster also recalled the time when he struck South Africa’s Gary Kirsten on the head with a speeding delivery.
“I had told Gary not to attempt the pull against me. I kept telling him don’t try it against the world’s fastest bowler. But he didn’t listen and was hit really hard. Whenever he meets me he points towards his eye,” he said.
In his career, Akhtar played 46 Tests in which he picked 178 wickets. He also played 163 ODIs in which he picked 247 wickets. Akhtar also picked 19 scalps in 15 T20Is.