Shoaib Akhtar calls Sachin Tendulkar a “brutal force”; compares Rahul Dravid to “Muhammad Ali”

In 1999, a young muscular lad from Rawalpindi made headlines when he knocked the stumps of batting stalwarts — Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar off consecutive deliveries to silence a jam-packed Eden Gardens. Shoaib Akhar, who created controversies when he took digs at the legendary Indian batsmen in his autobiography Controversially Yours, spoke about the duo in an interview with Wisden India. [Also Read: Shoaib Akhtar: Life and times]

The two deliveries that gave him his first shot to fame may have come 16 and half years back, but Akhtar recalled them with a glint in his eyes, “I knew I would have to beat him [Sachin Tendulkar] not just with pace but with swing too.”

Akhtar is one of the fastest bowlers to play the game and throughout his career the cricket world witnessed some serious battles between him and the Indian batting greats. He overcame several abnormalities to emerge as a true champion bowler who instilled fear in the minds of batsmen. The 40-year-old thanked Tendulkar for making him a star but said that it was Dravid who actually intimidated him. He said, “Sachin made me a star! So I’m thankful to him. He’s a great batsman, without a doubt. He can play better than anyone else. When he got going, he was a nightmare. But the biggest nightmare I ever faced was Rahul Dravid. He used to bore me. He was the first batsman who could intimidate me, in terms of when he walked in, I knew I would have to field for at least two sessions more.”

Akhtar added, “The only guy who could stop him was Wasim [Akram]. I had no ability to do that. I think in Test matches he was the toughest I bowled to. Sachin was a brutal force. When he got going, he made sure he scored runs. But Dravid killed you mentally. And physically he tired you. He was like Muhammad Ali, he would tire you out and then knock you down.”