New Delhi: Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar said here on Friday that people should read his autobiography first to “understand his remarks” about Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, and added that they are “world class cricketers”.
“I am not here to clarify anything… but facts in my book have been presented in a rather strange manner by the media here,” Akhtar said responding to queries about his remarks on Tendulkar and Dravid.
“I request people to read the book to understand my remarks about Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid…what I said, why I said and the manner in which I said. They are all world class cricketers. Please go through the book…” Akhtar said.
In his autobiography ‘Controversially Yours’, Akhtar says that he intimidated master blaster Tendulkar with his delivery during the Faisalabad Test.
“I bowled (Sachin) a particularly fast ball which he, to my amazement, didn’t even touch. He walked away! That was the first time I saw him walk away from me that, too, on the slow track at Faisalabad,” Akhtar wrote.
“I think players like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid weren’t exactly match winners to start with, nor did they know the art of finishing the game.”
The bowler, who holds the official record for the world’s fastest delivery, was in the capital on Friday to launch his autobiography, which he has co-authored with Anshu Dogra. The book has been published by Harper-Collins India.
Akhtar has also alleged that he was cheated by Bollywood star ShahRukh Khan and former Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi.
“Shah Rukh and I talked about my not being happy with the money settled on me. Shah Rukh and Modi got me to agree. I should have never listened to Modi and Shah Rukh,” he said.
Akhtar, who retired after the 2011 World Cup, also admitted to ball tampering and feels it should be legalised.
“Everyone tampers with the ball. I did so too. Tampering should be legalised.”
Akhtar also claimed that his career was hampered by legendary Pakistani pacer Wasim Akram.
“Wasim Akram threatened to walk out with half the team if I was included in the team. General Tauqir Zia (the then PCB chief) backed Shoaib against Wasim,” he wrote.
Thirty-six-year-old Akhtar, who has taken more than 400 wickets in his career, is known for bowling at 100.2 mph. The book chronicles and questions the game that was a part of his life, his peers, the Pakistan Cricket Control Board and the ICC. The book is full of anecdotes.
The book was released by the Pakistan High commissioner to India Shahid Malik.
Elaborating on his bowling, he said: “Some days fast bowlers are threatened by batsmen and on some days, you see the 'scare (fright)' in the batsmen’s eyes. I know what I see in people (batsmen). I scare them away. We would analyse their body language and use them to our advantage.”
“You will find in the book my humble background and where I come from. I have been honest to my game. You will understand from the book that apart from the controversy you will see the struggle behind the game and the long, lonely nights… No one creates controversies by choice,” Akhtar added.
Akhtar, who has retired from international cricket, said he has “been working on the book for the last two years… since 2008.
“I announced my retirement so that I could concentrate on the book,” he said.
“The book has everything about my life and all that happened to me… including the controversies,” he said. Akhtar was in conversation with sports writer Boria Mazumdar.
“I love India… despite being a Pakistani, so many Indians love me,” he said.
An Imran Khan fan, as a boy Akhtar would often go to the Pindi Cricket Club to watch Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis practise on the net, Pakistan envoy Malik said, recalling Akhtar’s early days.
“He would tell his friend, ‘Someday I would play with them’ and five years down the line he was there on the top,” envoy Malik said.
Akhtar, whose troubled knees are “getting worse by the day”, said “I found it difficult to walk straight”.
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