Wednesday Apr 28, 2021
Former Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar on Wednesday shared with his fans an interesting tidbit — he used to enjoy bowling to current Pakistan captain Babar Azam in the nets when he was 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, along with a snippet of Babar Azam's interview with Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle for Cricbuzz.
In the interview last year with the Indian commentator, Azam said that during camps for Pakistan A and emerging teams, young players would be invited for net sessions.
The Pakistan captain said that the former head of the National Cricket Academy Mudasser Nazar would invite the young players to those camps and make them play with the older guys so they "understand 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.
He remembered that he got ready all excited to play the world's fastest bowler.
"He told me: Kid you have to block. Don’t drive the ball," said Azam, regarding the instructions Akhtar would give 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.
The Pakistani skipper told the Indian commentator that he told Akhtar he would do as he said, 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," remembered Azam. 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.