Gavaskar more difficult to bowl at: Akram

Published: Wednesday, December 15, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Kolkata:Former Pakistan pace great Wasim Akram would include both Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar in his dream World XI, but feels that the legendary former Indian Test opener was more difficult to bowl at.

''Gavaskar appeared to me as a more difficult batsman. He was more difficult to bowl at,'' Akram told newspersons here.

The former Pakistan skipper, however, lavished praise on both the Indian stalwarts saying, ''I will include both of them in my World XI... They differed from one another. Gavaskar was an opener and Sachin a middle order bat''.

Akram, who was here in connection with a diabetes awareness programme among school children organised by Roche Diagnostics India, said that he got the chance to bowl to Gavaskar only in his early days as a cricketer.

''I was only 20 then. I got him out only once, and till date he remembers it,'' Akram said.

Asked whether he thought that Tendulkar would go this far when he bowled at him in the little master's debut series in Pakistan in 1989, Akram said, ''No. We only thought we have to get him out every second ball. He was a 16 year old kid then, and we were also quite young. However, we could see that he was extremely talented''.

Akram also lauded Tendulkar's 248 against Bangladesh in the recent Dhaka Test, saying that it was more difficult to get a big score versus a weak team. ''The concentration level generally goes down when you are playing a weak side."

Queried about the tips he gave to Zaheer Khan after the Dhaka Test, Akram said, ''I asked him to correct his wrist position. So, I told him to bowl of a wider, angular run up''.

Akram said that he also spoke to Indian rookie bowler S S Paul at the nets in Dhaka.

''I saw him briefly at the nets and asked Sachin whether he was more of a seam than a swing bowler. Sachin said yes. I told the youngster to look ahead and work hard. These are his early days in international cricket and he needs to be very competitive to survive at the top level''.

The former left-arm seamer, who holds the distinction of getting two hat-tricks in Tests, said he had a look at Paul's bowling action, and ''whatever flaw I found, I told him to set it right''. He, however, did not elaborate.

Recalling his chat with the other Indian pacer Irfan Pathan in Australia during the 2003-04 series, Akram said, ''Apart from coaching, I told him a few mental things. I told him that he should aim to play for 15 years and set a target of capturing more than 300 wickets in both forms of the game''.

''One has to aim very high to do well in international cricket. I told him that I don't want to see his feet off the ground after two years. When you are playing for your country, your feet have to be firmly rooted to the ground,'' he said.

Asked to comment on Anil Kumble's feat of emerging as the highest Indian Test wicket-taker, Akram said he considered the bespectacled leg-spinner was as good as Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan.

''He has been a match-winner for 15 years. I don't know why people still don't consider him on par with Warne and Muralitharan,'' he said.

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