MIRPUR: From Eden Gardens to Centurion, Shoaib Akhtar has had many memorable on-field battles with Sachin Tendulkar and he feels that Mohammad Amir and Virat Kohli’s face-offs will also go down in cricket history as an epic duel.
“It used to be a challenge bowling to Sachin and I think the future battles between Virat and Amir will be as exciting as our on-field rivalry. The two are world class performers and when they are pitted against each other, it can’t get better than that,” Akhtar told PTI during an interaction.
“Virat is India’s best batsman and Amir’s inclusion has made Pakistan’s attack far superior. Whenever these two will be up against each other, mazaa aane wala hain (it’s going to be fun),” he said.
Akhtar is proud that Amir’s redemption looks complete and it bolsters Pakistan cricket. “Let bygones be bygones. It feels good that the world’s best fast bowler is back where he belongs. It fills my heart with joy to see Amir run in and bowl those brilliant deliveries. Dil ko ek tasalli hoti hai use dekh kar (I feel content seeing him on the cricket field).
“It’s just that we need to be a bit more aggressive in our bowling department. Amir would need support from the other end and Wahab needs to step up,” 40-year-old Akhtar seemed happy talking about Pakistan’s bowling future.
However he couldn’t stop praising Kohli for his matured knock and termed him the best batsman of the modern era. “Virat Kohli is certainly the best batsman of his era. His match-finishing skills are exemplary. If you ask me whether he could be compared to Javed Miandad, who was also an exceptional finisher, I would say that two eras should not be compared. Yesterday, the manner in which he played, Virat showed why he is in a different league. Also like a true champion, he praised Amir’s bowling which was a good thing,” Akhtar was effusive in his praise.
He termed Pakistan bowling better than India’s but the once fearsome fast bowler did mention that Jasprit Bumrah has been a welcome addition to the Indian squad. “Jasprit Bumrah has been a great addition to the Indian bowling unit. He is a very talented youngster who should be nurtured. The best part about Bumrah’s bowling which personally impressed me is his control. He has a lot of control while bowling at the death.
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“Also the fact he can effortlessly bowl yorkers is a great added boost for the Indian team. The Indian bowling unit has now become better compared to earlier times. Both Bumrah and Nehra have been contributing brilliantly getting early wickets in the Powerplay overs,” Akhtar, who is here as a cricket pundit, observed.
He feels that India are certainly the favourites for World T20 but says the players need to remain fit and agile before the marquee tournament begins. “Winning the Asia Cup is important but one needs to keep all the players fit. The kind of carry that the Mirpur strip provides can’t be the case on the Indian pitches. Those will be slower and fast bowlers will require to put in more effort,” he concluded.