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‘Oh my word, crazy! – Pietersen recalls Shoaib Akhtar’s deadliest spell

Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen didn’t have the best of tours to Pakistan in 2005. Widely touted as the next big thing in International cricket back then, Pietersen had raised his stocks with his stunning performances in the 2005 Ashes.

Despite having momentum with him heading into the 2005 bilateral Test series against Pakistan, KP was blown away by speed King Shoaib Akhtar. Famously nicknamed “Rawalpindi Express”, Akhtar was seeking revival when England toured Pakistan in the summer of 2005.

Successfully bouncing back in the home Test series and cementing his place in the whites, Akhtar emerged as the wrecker-in-chief for the hosts in the three-match Test series. Recalling his faceoff with the Pakistan pace ace, Pietersen said that it was ‘frightening’ to see the amount of pace the Rawalpindi Express was generating with the leather during his spells.

“My first proper Test tour abroad was Pakistan. It was straight off the 2005 Ashes. That [tour] was frightening. The speed at which Shoaib Akhtar bowled in that series, my goodness!,” said Pietersen.

Whilte talking about the same tour, Pietersen also opened up on Andrew Flintoff’s hilarious “Taraz and Jane” sledge to Akhtar. The Pakistan pacer was having issues with his knee when Flintoff tried to poke fun at Akhtar – a move which backfired immediately for him and the visitors. Flintoff​ came up with ‘looking like Tarzan and bowling like Jane’ jibe to sledge the Pakistani speed merchant.

‘Shoaib took this to heart. I remember it was quite funny. Shoaib was struggling with his knee and he wasn’t bowling as quick and Freddie [Andrew Flintoff] turned to him and said ‘Shoaib, it’s no use looking like Tarzan and bowling like Jane buddy’,” he said.

“You could see that Shoaib took this to heart. My goodness! The speed at which Shoaib Akhtar bowled in that Test series, oh my word! Crazy, he was bowling faster at five in the afternoon than he was in the morning. It was crazy, crazy,” Pietersen added.

The Inzamam-ul-Haq-led side thrashed Micheal Vaughan-led England to claim the three-match series 2-0 in their own backyard. While Inzamam finished as the top scorer with 431 runs, Akhtar scalped 17 wickets to help Pakistan register a comfortable series triumph.

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