Former Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram has selected the 1999 tour of India as his favourite tour, stating that the pressure of playing against arch-rivals India and defeating India was special.
With Akram at the helm, Pakistan won the first Test in Chennai by 12 runs. It was the first time that the likes of him and Waqar Younis were playing against Sachin Tendulkar in Tests despite Tendulkar making his maiden international appearance in 1989.
“The 90s we won a lot against India. Nowadays it’s a different story. It’s the opposite. The tables have turned I suppose. If you talk about tours, I would pick an India tour. 1999 – We toured India after 10 years,” Akram told former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson in ‘Lessons Learnt with the Greats’ podcast.
“I was the captain. The first Test was in Chennai. I told my boys, if the stadium is quiet then we are doing our job. So we would never get support in India and India would never get support in Pakistan. That was the thing,” he added.
“Saqlain Mushtaq bowled a phenomenal over. The inventor of doosra. We got a standing ovation from the Chennai crowd. That was my favourite tour,” recalled Akram.
“Then in the second Test (Delhi), the pitch was dug so it had to be relaid. Kumble got 10 wickets. It was really a memorable tour.”
“I used to enjoy Indo-Pak pressure, used to take it in a positive way,” said Akram.
The 54-year-old also stated that in his international career, he always wanted to do well against top opponents like Australia and England.
“England and Australia were the places where I wanted to perform. And against India, it was a different reason why I wanted to perform. Because once you perform against India, you get recognised in your country big time. Vice versa for India.”
Akram revealed that he was not a big fan of putting in extra hours in the gym as he as per him a bowler can only get better by making the bowling muscles work.
“I started gymming at the age of 33. Before that, I only used to run and bowl everyday.
“Cricketers are a lot fitter now. But bowling muscle will only get strengthened when you bowl. When I see them exercising in the gym, it doesn’t make any sense to me. People might say I am a 90s guy, and I am a 90s guy.”
Akram added that media scrutiny has increased over time.
“There were newspapers then. Nowadays in Pakistan we have 50 news channels. Pressure wasn’t as much, if social media was in my time, I probably would have been sacked in three weeks…off the field tactics (laughs).”
Akram also shared lessons he learnt from life and cricket.
“Stress is not going to help. It is difficult but if you have a problem and you cannot solve it the same day, try again next day. You need practice for it. Everyone makes mistakes as long as you learn from them. There is no special secret recipe.”