Not Virender Sehwag, but this Pakistani batsman, changed opening batting in Test cricket, says Wasim Akram

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Published: March 30, 2020 3:26:09 PM

Akram also said that he listened to his gut feeling and former Pakistani captain, Imran Khan’s advice, to take Shahid Afridi on the tour to India when he was originally not supposed to be included in the squad.

Akram also said that he listened to his gut feeling and former Pakistani captain, Imran Khan’s advice. (File Image: PTI)

In response to the question of who revolutionised the art of opening batting in Test cricket, a majority of cricket pundits and fans would pick Virender Sehwag for the impact he created on the Test cricket format, but not for Wasim Akram. The legendary Pakistani fast bowler has said that the phenomenon of Virender Sehwag arrived later into the Test cricket arena, and he was second to Pakistani all-rounder Shahid Afridi in changing the attitude of cricketers about opening batting in Test cricket.

Explaining the bowlers’ dilemma while bowling to Afridi, Wasim Akram said that as if he was bowling against him, he was confident to get Afridi out, but he was also concerned that he could smack loose deliveries out of the park with ease. The legendary left-arm pacer who holds the record of taking four hat-tricks in international cricket said all this in a YouTube chat show with Shahid Afridi.

It was under Akram’s captaincy when Shahid Afridi announced his arrival in the white-ball cricket. He smashed 141 runs in the very famous Chennai Test in 1999 where Pakistan had defeated India. Pakistan went on to win that series 2-1 against its arch-rivals India. Recalling that swashbuckling inning from Afridi, Akram said that it was surreal to see how Afrdid was dancing down the track at will against the spin and guile of experienced campaigners like Anil Kumble and Sunil Joshi.

Akram also said that he listened to his gut feeling and former Pakistani captain, Imran Khan’s advice, to take Shahid Afridi on the tour to India when he was originally not supposed to be included in the squad. Akram said that Imran Khan has suggested him to make Afridi open the batting in Test matches as he possessed the capability to win 1 or 2 games on his own.

Although, in the long run, Shahid Afridi’s flight as a Test opener could not sustain for long because of his inconsistency and lack of defensive technique — which is essential to combat the new red ball in Test cricket. He ended up playing only 27 test matches while he featured in 398 ODIs and 99 T20Is for Pakistan.

In the 48 innings he got the chance to bat in his 27-match-long Test career, Afridi amassed only 1716 runs at an average of 36.51 with 5 Test centuries and 8 half-centuries. Notably, Shahid Afridi’s strike rate in Test matches was 86.97 on the back of 52 sixes and 220 fours. Notably, Shahid Afridi, the bowler was more reliable than Shahid, the batsman. In 47 innings, he scalped 48 wickets at 35.6 with a strike rate of 66.54. His best performance as a bowler was 5/52.

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