Only a few can match the mastery of Virender Sehwag as an opening batsman in Test cricket. Even David Warner, the Australian with a similar style to the Indian, credits Sehwag for emboldening him to take on the opposition from the start.
However, Wasim Akram rates another batsman over Sehwag who forever changed the meaning of opening in Test matches.
Heaping praises over former Pakistan all-rounder, Shahid Afridi, Akram said it was Afridi who encouraged opening batsmen to play freely from the start.
In Test cricket, Sehwag came later. But, in 1999-2000, Shahid Afridi changed the mindset of opening in Test cricket. Even if I was the bowler I would know that I can get him out but also know that he can hit me for boundaries. He used to hit lose deliveries for sixes at will.
While Afridi made his debut as an opener in Test against Australia in 1998, Wasim Akram revealed that Afridi originally wasn’t a part of the team that toured India in 1999-2000.
But, Akram consulted 1992 ODI World Cup-winning captain Imran Khan whether to include Shahid Afridi in the squad.
I called Imran Khan before the tour selection. I told him, skipper, I want to take Shahid Afridi on tour but a few selectors are against it.
In response, Imran Khan said:
You should definitely take him, he will win you the Test series 2-1 and make him open the batting.
Certainly, Shahid Afridi did not disappoint Wasim Akram as he scored his maiden Test century (141) in the 1st Test at Chennai.
Afridi gave sleepless nights to Indian bowlers in the test series, recalled Akram.
What a knock it was on that Chennai track. Afridi used to dance down the track and hit Kumble and Joshi for sixes.
Thanks to Afridi’s brilliance as the opener, Pakistan won the Test series 2-1.
Do you agree with Wasim Akram? Let us know in the comments.
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