New Delhi: Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar rattled the best batters during his prime. His searing bouncers, reversing toe crushers, that too at a pace of thunderbolts were a nightmare for the batters. The ‘Rawalpindi Express’ played against some of the greatest batters of all time, including Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid and delivered a visual spectacle for the fans.
Recalling his on-field battles with Sachin Tendulkar, Akhtar said that while all other batters were intimidated by his pace and feared him, Sachin was on a different level and played him the best during the 1999 World Cup.
“This Pakistan team used to get to the ground against India with unnecessary pressure. We even choked in the 2003 World Cup. But Sachin played me the best during the 1999 World Cup. All the other batters were scared of me at that time. Many batters of the world used to stop moving their feet against me,” Akhtar told Star Sports in an interaction.
For several years, Pakistan facing India in the World Cup was nothing more than a humiliation for the Men in Green. The team failed to beat India in World Cups until the 2021 T20 World Cup where the Babar Azam-led Pakistan tasted success for the first time and defeated Virat Kohli’s men by 10 wickets. Akhtar said that Pakistan used to get pressurized with the hype of Indo-Pak matches in World Cups which resulted in their below-par performances in the mega events.
“We, as (the) Pakistan team, used to play against India, why don’t you just play it as a normal match? We had come (into the 1999 World Cup) beating India in ODIs as well as Tests in their backyard. (It was) just the added pressure of the World Cup as well as the huge hype.
“Pakistan team used to get pressurized by that hype. This hype was created by TV (media) and we all used to watch TV,” explained Akhtar.