Pakistan’s speed merchant Shoaib Akhtar also known as the Rawalpindi Express is one of the greatest fast bowlers to have ever played the gentlemen’s game. Akhtar had a lot of variation at his disposal including the delay beamers and toe-crushing yorkers.
The speedster generated a lot of pace that manged to rattle even the best of batsmen including the veteran Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting, and many more. However, recently Akhtar managed to spring a surprise as he names the toughest batsman he has bowled against in international cricket.
While many were expecting the name of Tendulkar or Lara to pop up, Akhtar picked Sri Lanka’s spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan. Notably, Muttiah was renowned for giving nightmares to the opposition team with his googlies and off-spin deliveries. The legend has a whopping 800 Test wickets under his belt. However, Muttiah didn’t make any significant contribution with the willow as he averaged 11.6 in Tests and 6.8 in ODIs.
Elaborating the reason behind picking Sri Lanka’s spin wizard as the toughest batsman, Akhtar narrated an interesting anecdote. The Pakistan stalwart revealed that Muttiah requested him to pitch the ball up and used to smack such balls all over the park.
“Muttiah Muralitharan is the toughest batsman I have bowled to. I am not even kidding. He requested me not to kill him and told me that he will die if I hit him with a bouncer. He said, ‘Please pitch the ball up and I will give you the wicket away’. Whenever I pitched the ball up he just used to slash hard and used to tell me that he hit it by mistake," Akhtar told Sportskeeda.
Akhtar finishes his international career with 176 wickets in 46 Test matches followed by a whopping 247 scalps in 163 One Day Internationals.