Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram has picked the 1999 tour of India as his favourite tour, saying the pressure of playing the neighbours and then winning in India was special.
Under Akram’s captaincy, Pakistan won the first Test in Chennai by 12 runs. It was the first time the likes of him and Waqar Younis were playing against the great Sachin Tendulkar in Tests despite the Little Master making his debut in 1989.
“The 90s we won a lot against India. Nowadays it’s a different story. It’s the opposite. The tables have turned I suppose. If you talk about tours, I would pick an India tour. 1999 – We toured India after 10 years,” Akram told former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson in ‘Lessons Learnt with the Greats’ podcast.
“I was the captain. The first Test was in Chennai. I told my boys, if the stadium is quiet then we are doing our job. So we would never get support in India and India would never get support in Pakistan. That was the thing,” said the 54-year old, regarded as one of the finest left-arm pacers the world has ever seen.
“Saqlain Mushtaq bowled a phenomenal over. The inventor of doosra. We got a standing ovation from the Chennai crowd. That was my favourite tour,” recalled Akram.
“Then in the second Test (Delhi), the pitch was dug so it had to be relaid. Kumble got 10 wickets. It was really a memorable tour.”
“I used to enjoy Indo-Pak pressure, used to take it in a positive way,” said Akram.
Akram also said in his two-decade long career, he always wanted to do well in Australia and England.
“England and Australia were the places where I wanted to perform. And against India, it was a different reason why I wanted to perform. Because once you perform against India, you get recognised in your country big time. Vice versa for India.”
Akram also pointed that he is not a big fan of gym sessions as he feels for a bowler you can only get better by making your bowling muscles work.
“I started gymming at the age of 33. Before that, I only used to run and bowl everyday.
“Cricketers are a lot fitter now. But bowling muscle will only get strengthened when you bowl. When I see them exercising in the gym, it doesn’t make any sense to me. People might say I am a 90s guy, and I am a 90s guy.”
On media scrutiny, Akram said during their days it wasn’t that much as it is now.
“There were newspapers then. Nowadays in Pakistan we have 50 news channels. Pressure wasn’t as much, if social media was in my time, I probably would have been sacked in three weeks…off the field tactics (laughs).”
On lessons learnt from life and cricket, he said: “Stress is not going to help. It is difficult but if you have a problem and you cannot solve it the same day, try again next day. You need practice for it. Everyone makes mistakes as long as you learn from them. There is no special secret recipe.”