I wonder how many times Haley’s Comet will cross the Earth before the cricketing world will ever truly see the brilliance that is Wasim Akram. Born on the 3rd of June 1966, this Pakistani cricketer has gone on to win accolades, from both the world of cricket and his fans alike. In fact, there is almost no milestone that he had yet to break during his time. Versatile with both bat and ball, Wasim Akram was seen as one of the best all-rounders and everyone who ever faced his terrifying bowling eventually succumbed to his tactical brilliance. It would be very hard to describe his best performances till date, but here are 7, in my opinion, which should withstand the test of time :
It’s very rare, actually almost impossible, to see a tailender perform as spectacularly with the bat as he does with the ball. Wasim Akram tallied a total of 9 wickets, giving away just 89 runs and restricting the West Indies to 294 and 173 respectively. Add to this his batting performance, in which he scored 38 in the first inning and 21 in the second and you can see why this performance has to be noted. Remember that back in the 90’s, figures like these were almost unheard of, whereas now-a-days bowlers make it look as easy as steroids.
Wasim Akram was known for his flamboyant performances against the West Indies, which is why it’s no surprise they’re on the list yet again. In 1986, Wasim Akram pulled off what has to be the most prolific performance by an all-rounder, on the losing side, till that date. Akram bowled like a wizard, pulling off a magical 6/91 accompanied by a wonderful 66 off 132 balls in the second innings. One really has to feel for him here because despite his all-round performance, Akram ended up on the losing side. On the bright side however, he was awarded The Man of the Match for his valiant performance.
I’m starting to see a pattern here. Everyone comes to Pakistan and gets bowled over, quite literally. Wasim Akram played a crucial role in his side’s victory once again. His 5/55 ensured that Sri Lanka were forced to follow on, chasing a mammoth 459. Due to injury, Akram had to postpone his spell in the second inning, but his 2/24 off just 10 overs sealed the match by an inning and 40 runs. Once again, he scooped up the Man of the Match award and by then, he had already been considered the best pace bowler in Test Cricket History, until a couple of Aussies came along and stole that title from him a few years later.
Zeal, Vigor, Might and Valor. Four words that resonate what this match meant to Pakistan. It’s rare to find a team come back from the brink of destruction and pull-off an ‘upset’. Bowled out for 149, any level headed man would have written off Pakistan. But Akram had other plans in mind. Like a knight on his horse, Akram charged the opposition with his most powerful weapon, the cricket ball. In 9 overs, Akram tore them to pieces, picking up 5/19 and a maiden over to top. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, but to their dismay, New Zealand suffered his wrath a few times over.
Okay, Namibia isn’t the best cricketing nation in the world but that’s no excuse for the way they performed. Chasing 255 to win in 50 overs, Namibia crumbled like a butter biscuit. Akram delivered a scintillating 5/28 in 9 overs, bring Namibia to their knees at 84/10. As they say, “It’s not over till the fat lady sings”, and she sang an Opera of Devastation through the left arm pacer.
This one has to take the No. 1 spot, not for Akram’s bowling performance but his unparalleled 257. Chasing 357 in their first inning, Pakistan got off to good start with half centuries from Saeed Anwar, Salim Malik and Saqlain Mushtaq but Akram’s 257 was what got them over the total and set a new record which is yet to be conquered. With 22 fours and 12 sixes, Akram scored the highest number of runs by any no. 8 batsman in the history of test cricket. Although this match was drawn and he picked up only 1 wicket, Wasim Akram left his mark in cricket history and it was post this that the tag “contemporary best all-rounder” started following him around wherever he went.