Wasim Akram happy birthday: Life story of the living legend of cricket history
During his international career spanning 18 years, Akram made a name for himself as one of the most lethal bowlers to have ever played the game of cricket. With 414 wickets at an average of 23.62 from 104 Tests and 502 scalps from 356 ODIs at an equally impressive average of 23.52, he finished his career as Pakistan’s most successful bowler in both forms of the game.
However, Akram was not about numbers alone. He made bowling look like a form of art. Watching this left-arm speedster run in and bowl those unplayable swinging deliveries with his ball-concealing action was a sight to behold. No wonder, cricket pundits dubbed him the ‘Sultan of Swing’.
Akram made his debut at the age of 19 during Pakistan’s tour of New Zealand at Auckland in 1985. Though he returned modest figures of 2/105 in his first match, he shot to limelight with a 10-wicket haul in the second match of the series at Dunedin.
Since then, the Lahore-born pace ace didn’t look back and orchestrated a number of memorable victories for his nation in both Tests and ODIs. The finest of those victories came in the final of 1992 World Cup. Under the inspirational leadership of the great Imran Khan, Akram produced match-turning figures of 3/49 from his 10 overs to help Pakistan beat England by 22 runs to lift their maiden World Cup trophy.
His victims in the match included sir Ian Botham, Alan Lamb and Chris Lewis. The wickets of Lamb and Lewis were especially crucial since they had taken England to 141/4 in reply to Pakistan’s total of 249. The Sultan of Swing, though, finished the contest by rattling the timbers of both batsmen in quick succession.
Apart from being an outstanding bowler, Akram was a capable batsman with his highest Test score reading 257-- a knock that came against Zimbabwe in Sheikhupura in 1996-97. He hit 12 sixes in the innings.
The Pakistan pace legend played his last international match against India during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa. This was the same match in which Sachin Tendulkar famously hit Shoaib Akhtar for a six over point en route to a whirlwind 75-ball 98 that delivered India a facile six-wicket win.