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Sports

Web Desk
April 28, 2021

Shoaib Akhtar says Pakistan captain Babar Azam was 'quite a prodigy' even when he was young

Sports

Web Desk
Wed, Apr 28, 2021
Former Pakistan bowler Shoaib Akhtar (L) and current Pakistan captain Babar Azam. Photo: File 

Former Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar on Wednesday recalled that, after bowling to current Pakistan captain Babar Azam in the nets when he was young, made him realise that he was "quite a child prodigy".

"Even back then Babar Azam was quite a child prodigy. I used to enjoy bowling in the nets to him," said Akhtar on Instagram, as he shared a snippet of Babar Azam's interview with Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle for cricket portal Cricbuzz.

Babar Azam's interview

In the interview which was done last year, Azam told Bhogle that the younger players would be asked to practice during camps for Pakistan A and emerging teams.

The Pakistan captain said that the former head of the National Cricket Academy Mudasser Nazar would ask them to attend those camps so the young ones get to play with the older guys and "understand the pace and learn to play against good bowlers".

Azam recalled that during those days, Shoaib Akhtar would also come "at times" and would bowl alone in the nets after the players would leave.

"One day he asked for a batsman. Mudasser [Nazar] bhai said take [Babar Azam]," said the batsman.

Azam said he was excited to get the opportunity to play the world's fastest bowler after the call.

"He [Shoaib Akhtar] told me: Kid you have to block. Don’t drive the ball," said Azam, regarding the instructions the fastest bowler in world cricket had given to him before going in. He added that before going to bat he told Akhtar that he would listen to his advice.

"I stopped two balls and then hit one drive. [Shoaib Akhtar] said I will bowl fuller but you don’t need to drive, you have to block," recalled Babar.

Babar once again agreed to follow what he was being told, but then again he would drive a ball after blocking two of them.

"During one such shot, the ball went between his legs. He immediately asked for a new ball and said I will show him," Azam said to tell Bhogle how serious the former pacer would be after seeing the shots. He also recalled hilariously that as soon as Akhtar said those words, Mudasser Nazar came running and asked him to leave the nets or else the pacer would "kill" him.

However, Akhtar rather than banishing Azam for his shots asked the coaches to send Azam more regularly as a batsman for his net sessions.

"Since then, whenever he would come to practice he would call for me," said Azam.

He also shared that during one of those sessions Akhtar accidentally bowled him a bouncer and "luckily" that ball went over his head.