T20 World Cup Final: England openers won't be able do an India against Pakistan, says Shoaib Akhtar

The former speedster predicts a cracker of a final in Melbourne on Sunday


Mazhar Farooqui

Published: Sat 12 Nov 2022, 8:09 PM

England openers won't be able to dominate Pakistan pacers like they did against India, Shoaib Akhtar predicted on the eve of the T20 World Cup final in Melbourne on Sunday.

"We will have a cracker of a match tomorrow. It will not be easy for Alex Hales and Joss Butler to do what they did against India," the former speedster said.

The pair starred in England's thumping victory in the semi finals against India on Thursday as they made a chase of 169 look like a walk in the park.

Butler smashed 80 from 49 balls while Hales got 86 from 47. Both batters remained unbeaten, setting a record for the highest partnership for any wicket in the history of the men's T20 World Cup.

But Akhtar, also known as Rawalpindi Express, said the England openers will not enjoy the same liberty against Pakistan. "It will be tough, very tough for them to score freely as they did in the semis," he said.

The former Pakistan speedster was speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SBIF). People attending the fair on Sunday will get to see a different side of the cricketer at an event organised by Bazm-e-Urdu on November 13.

Akhtar said he was surprised by the lack of aggression of Indian bowlers in their encounter against England. "They should have been ruthless from the start. And yes, they also need a genuine fast bowler."

Asked about his all-time favourite batsmen, Akthar picked Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar and Muttiah Muralidharan. He explained why he chose Sri Lankan spinner Muralidharan whose test batting average is under 12.

"He was a wily opponent," said Akhtar recollecting an incident when Murali faced him. "As I got ready to charge in, he pleaded with me to be gentle on him but when I delivered the ball he smoked me for a six."

Akhar, considered the fastest bowler in the history of cricket, said the turning point of his career was when he cleaned up Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendular off successive yorkers in the series opener of the 1999 Asian Test Championship in Kolkata. "I had told Saqlain, I will get Sachin this time. Saqlain responded saying it was him who had gotten Sachin twice in test matches. I said to Saqlain, your time is over. When Sachin came to bat after the fall of Dravid's wicket, I realised if I had to get him out it had to be on the first ball , else he would hit us around the ground all day. I was focussed and he got out on the first ball. It was the turning point of my career as people still talk about those two balls."


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