Pakistan’s limited-overs captain Babar Azam has recalled an incident from his younger days, when he nearly got into trouble while facing former speedster Shoaib Akhtar.
In an exclusive interview with Cricbuzz, Azam revealed how he kept playing drives against Akhtar despite the legendary pacer telling him not to do so.
“I remember, there was a camp for the emerging players or Pakistan A. That time, they would even call some of us from the Under-15 team to practice with them. Mudassar Nazar, who was there, would call us to bat first. We were asked to bat first so that the bowlers could warm up and understand their paces,” said Azam.
“Shoaib Akhtar would come there at times, towards the end of the camp to bowl for a bit. One day, he asked for a batsman to bowl at and Mudassar bhai asked him to take me along with him. So I got ready and was quite excited. Shoaib told me, ‘Kid, I will pitch the ball full, just block it, don’t drive’. I said okay. I blocked the first two balls but drove the third one,” he added.
An angry Shoaib Akhtar, lashed out at Azam with the new ball, but a much-needed interference from former cricketer Mudassar Nazar calmed things down.
“I kept doing that – block two balls and drive the third one. He was like, ‘Get me a new ball, I will show him’. Immediately, Mudassar bhai told me, ‘get out of the nets or he will kill you’. He took me out of the nets,” he said.
Babar and Akhtar kept kept their net-session rivalry alive in a friendly manner, however there was one more incident that happened.
“However, whenever he would come to the nets thereafter, he would ask me to come and face him. He would bowl full but once, by mistake, he bowled a bouncer and luckily the ball went over my head,” he said.
Babar also opined on all the recent comparisons between himself and Indian captain virat Kohli.
“Virat Kohli is one of the best players in the world. I am way behind him and I still have a lot to achieve. I will try to be like him and win matches for my country,” he concluded.