Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis: They hated each other as much as they hated rival batsmen
Waqar Younis (left) and Wasim Akram © Getty Images

Controversy – The rivalry that perhaps derailed some journeys of a great team.

 

Central figures – Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.

 

Curriculum Vitae – One could make the ball swing prodigiously, and the other could send down searing yorkers at will. The two formed the most feared of all opening bowling combinations in the ’90s. Yet, things were never very smooth between the two.

 

Confessions – Wasim Akram has gone on record stating that although he hated Waqar to the extent that they did not speak to each other, it was a professional rivalry which spurred them on to perform better. “Every time Waqar took wickets, I too would too get charged up to do the same.”

 

Opinions – According to many, which include Mudassar Nazar, the infighting had dreadful results for the Pakistan side. Mudassar accused the board officials of turning a blind eye to the rivalry, and often encouraging it in order to maintain their own positions of power.

 

Problems – Things reached a severe crisis during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa when the two speedsters could speak to each other only through Inzamam-ul-Haq, probably the only player on speaking terms with both the great bowlers.

When Waqar was named the captain of Pakistan, at least half the side pledged allegiance to Akram. The dynamics within the team grew extremely complicated. When Akram wanted a change in the field, he would shout the instructions to Inzamam in the slips, who in turn would pass the message to Waqar.

 

Worst part – Shahid Afridi, while bowling during the match against India, chose to complain to Akram when he was not given the field of his choice and then fired his deliveries down the leg with a packed off side field.

 

Aftermath – However, with age having mellowed them down, the two fiery fast bowlers claim to be on good terms now that they have retired from cricket.

 

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)