Considered to be one of the fastest pacers in cricket history, Pakistan great Shoaib Akhtar won over fans with his fiery bowling, aggressive temperament and eccentric personality. Nicknamed as the Rawalpindi Express, Akhtar bagged 178 wickets in 46 Tests, 247 dismissals in 163 ODIs and 19 in 15 T20Is. Akhtar is also known to be the record-holder of the fastest delivery in world cricket, when he bowled a 161 kmph delivery against England during the 2003 World Cup.
In modern cricket, many fast bowlers have been heralded as the one to break Akhtar’s record, but none have been able to do so. Similarly, the pressure has also fallen on India pacer Umran Malik, who already clocked 157 kmph in the IPL, bowled the fastest delivery ever bowled by an Indian international cricket, when he sent a 155 kmph delivery to take the wicket of Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka in January this year.
Also Read | India, Australia look for higher gear
The 23-year-old has been included in India’s squad for the ODI series against Australia, scheduled to begin from Friday. If selected, he will be hoping to put in a good display. Ahead of Australia ODI series, the SRH pacer received some valuable advice from Akhtar on how to improve his bowling. Akhtar also had some special advice for Umran, on how to break his fastest delivery record.
Speaking on News24, Shoaib said, “He is very good. He is very strong and has a powerful run-up. He has nice arm speed. You saw when he struck Shanaka, it was ruthless bowling. So Umran, bowl courageously and learn the art of bowling quickly. Learn the technical aspect. Never reduce your aggression, even if you are getting beaten a lot, then also don’t reduce your aggression. Always bowl fast, and never leave it. When you go to the field, the ownership of the ground has to be yours. Don’t break and train a lot.”
“You are playing for a great country. People care a lot and respect a lot. So never let down their feelings and bowl with a big heart.”
The former cricketer also went on to state that he would be willing to help Umran when required. Akhtar also explained how the Indian bowler could increase his speed. “I would take 26 yards to bowl. But Umran takes 20 yards. So when he goes to 26 yards, he will have different muscles. I am sure in times to come he will learn. If he needs any help I am always there for him. If you want to break my record please take it away. It’s been 20 years and it hasn’t been broken, please break it. I will be the first guy to hug and kiss you”, he said.
Since making his India debut in June 2022, Umran has bagged 13 wickets in eight ODIs and 11 dismissals in eight T20Is. He will be hoping to build on his numbers and become a contender for India’s ODI World Cup squad.