Legendary pacer Shoaib Akhtar has surprisingly picked spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan as the toughest batsman he has bowled to in international cricket. Former Pakistani pacer Akhtar used to be a walking nightmare for premier batsmen during his prime. Known for terrorizing even the best in the business, Akhtar became the flag bearer of fast bowling in the late 90s.
From Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar to batting maestro Brian Lara, Akhtar enjoyed several duels with some of the greatest batsmen in the gentlemen’s game. In his bitter-sweet career for the Green Army, the Pakistani speed merchant remained keen on unnerving batting icons with his deadly beamers and toe-crushing yorkers.
Recently, Akhtar took part in a special interaction and the fast bowling genius was asked to name the toughest batsman he has ever bowled to in his international career. While many expected the pace ace to choose between batting legend Tendulkar, former West Indies skipper Lara and ex-Australian skipper Ricky Ponting, the former Pakistani pacer raised eyebrows with his surprise pick.
Akhtar gave a special mention to legendary spinner Muralitharan and the former cricketer also shared an interesting anecdote about the Sri Lankan spin bowling great. “Muttiah Muralitharan is the toughest batsman I have bowled to. I am not even kidding. He requested me not to kill him and told me that he will die if I hit him with a bouncer. He said, ‘Please pitch the ball up and I will give you the wicket away’,” Akhtar said.
“Whenever I pitched the ball up he just used to slash hard and used to tell me that he hit it by mistake,” Akhtar added. Regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers in the history of the gentlemen’s game, Akhtar made his international debut against the West Indies at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in 1997. Nicknamed the Rawalpindi Express, the world’s fastest bowler played 46 Tests, 163 ODIs, and 15 T20Is for Pakistan.