The Plane Decides To Land




Shoaib Akhtar

Shoaib Akhtar

The sight of Shoaib Akhtar running into bowl is a pure cricket lover’s delight. Hair splattered all over his face, those bulging muscles, long strides like that of a sprinter and focused eyes that would make many a batsman ponder over his choice of becoming a batsman is a picture that is impossible to replicate.

Akhtar started playing international cricket for Pakistan since 1997 but has played only a mere 46 Tests in 13 years. Haunted by on and off field controversies, Akhtar’s career has been the talking point of many a critic but Akhtar has managed to leave an imprint on the limited time he has spent on the field. He took fast bowling to new heights and made sure batsmen were no longer safe within that helmet. He became the first bowler to clock 100 miles per hour and his antics and his celebrations with arms outstretched resembling an airplane in cruise mode was what defined Shoaib.

Akhtar was first noticed during Pakistan’s tour of Australia during the end of the millennium where he clocked 155kph consistently and had the Aussie batsman searching for cover. He then played a stellar role in Pakistan’s run to the final in the World Cup of 1999 as he finished amongst the leading wicket takers. He would return to haunt the Aussies in 2002 in Colombo as he knocked Mark Waugh, Ponting and Adam Gilchrist within a space of a few deliveries. But the defining moment of Shoaib’s career would come during the 1999 Asian Test Championship match against India at the Eden Gardens.  He breached the defences of The Wall as he bowled Rahul Dravid with an inswinging yorker. The crowd went wild as the wicket brought Sachin Tendulkar out to the centre.  Two minutes later Shoaib had silenced them all! He sent down another yorker that swung in late only for Tendulkar to see his stump cartwheeling. It was all over before it had even begun. The Rawalpindi Express had run over the Indian God!

Shoaib has seen it all – being called for chucking, accused of ball tampering, fighting battles against his own cricket board, beating up teammates, failing dope tests, injuries, fines and bans. His career will always remain a career of ‘what could have been’ but with Shoaib deciding to pull the curtains down on a glittery but scarred innings at the end of the 2011 World Cup, cricket is sure to miss an entertainer.

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Monish Menon

Author:

Hi, I am Monish Menon from Hyderabad and currently working at Franklin Templeton Investments as a Compliance Business Analyst. Sport has always been my passion since I was a kid and I invest all my non-existent free time by watching, playing, writing and analyzing various sporting events across the world. Apart from being a diehard Manchester United fan and a Ferrari supporter, I believe that Roger Federer is still the best tennis player and Sachin Tendulkar is God. I play club cricket and I also am a part of my organization’s cricket and football squad. Being such a sports fanatic, writing about it is something that came naturally to me and I am glad that I got an opportunity through thesportsmirror.com to share my thoughts with the rest of the world. For other articles written by me, you can visit my blog at www.monishmenon.wordpress.com

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