Paarl: Pakistan's Wasim Akram became the first player in the history of the game to take 500 One-day wickets on Tuesday and then dedicated his achievement to his legion of spectators. Wasim reached the milestone figure when he forced Netherlands' opener Nick Statham to play on for nought in his second over of the team's World Cup group 'A' game at Boland Park. "I am very excited by this, but the important thing now is for Pakistan to qualify for the next stage," said the 36-year-old who finished with 3 for 24 to take his career total to 502 wickets as Pakistan won by 97 runs.
"I want to dedicate the 500 wickets to the spectators who have supported me throughout my 18 years in the game. I also want to dedicate them to people like Imran Khan and Javed Miandad who taught me to work hard to get to the top and how to stay there." Wasim reached the landmark in his 354th match with the next best on the all-time list his current captain Waqar Younis, who now has 414 wickets after Tuesday's game in which Pakistan made 253 for 9 before the Dutch were bowled out for 156. The left-armer, playing his fifth and last World Cup, is the only bowler to have taken over 400 wickets in both forms of the game.
Only Sri Lankan Muthiah Muralitharan, India's Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath have taken 300 or more wickets in Limited Over Internationals. West Indian Courtney Walsh holds the record of most Test wickets with 519 in 132 matches, followed by Australia's Shane Warne (491), Sri Lanka's Muralitharan (437) India's Kapil Dev (434), New Zealand's Richard Hadlee and Wasim (414). "It is something special to achieve 500, but at the end of the day it matters more that the team achieve some crucial wins in the World Cup," Wasim said. Asked which one of his wickets was most special, Wasim said it was always a personal victory to remove the likes of Viv Richards and Martin Crowe.
"These were the geniuses of One-day cricket, and they knew how to play reverse swing. I consider Viv the best One-day batsman of all time," he said. Cricket's bible Wisden recently honoured Wasim by naming him the best bowler in Limited Overs cricket. The former Pakistan captain acknowledged that the 1992 World Cup final against England was one of the most memorable matches in which he claimed 3 for 49 and scored 33 off 19 deliveries to secure his team's win. Plagued by injuries, Wasim abandoned his chase for Walsh's Test record but has set a benchmark in One-day cricket, which will be hard to beat.
Regarded as one of the most innovative new-ball bowlers, Wasim failed to get a wicket on his One-day debut against New Zealand at Faisalabad in 1984-85 but was instantly compared with Australian legendary left-armer Alan Davidson when he took 5 for 21 against the Aussies in Melbourne in only his fourth match. He also holds the record of two hat-tricks - both in Tests and One-dayers - his first hat trick coming against the West Indies in Sharjah in 1989-90 during which he also completed his 100 wickets. That was followed by a second hat-trick against Australia, also in Sharjah six months later. Wasim's finest hour came in the 1992 World Cup when he took 18 wickets - three in the final to help his team win the title.