Three-over challenge between Wasim, Waqar shaped my career: Saqlain

The 43-year-old revealed a famous incident involving the legendary duo

Pakistan’s legendary former off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq, in a YouTube video on Sunday, revealed the story of a three-over challenge between fast-bowling greats Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, which was instrumental in shaping the career of the magician.

The 43-year-old stated that the legendary duo troubled the batsmen around the world while competing with each other at every opportunity.

“The two W’s troubled the batsmen around the world during their time. There was an incident which helped me considerably in my career. In Australia, during a net session, these two decided to hold a competition. Wasim and Waqar is a storied rivalry in cricket. The two pacers tried to outdo each other in every game,” Mushtaq said.

The former off-spinner revealed how a harmless challenge during a net session in Australia shaped his career.

“When I first came to the team, these two were always at odds with their distinct styles. So in Australia, these two decided to hold a competition of three overs in which they had to bowl more deliveries landing on the seam. I was the judge. So Akram bowled the first delivery to start the competition and bowled an in swinger. The ball, when I checked landed perfectly on the seam. Waqar bowled an in swinger as well which landed perfectly again. The thing about this was the intensity. They were bowling just like they do in crunch encounters with their complete aggression and power,” he said.

Mushtaq expressed his surprise at the intensity and control of the legendary duo while competing in the challenge.

“So they started bowling and all balls were landing on the seam. They were trying to distract each other after every ball. They were sledging each other to bowl the wrong way. The intensity and focus however was such that each bowl continued to land perfectly on the seam,” he said. “In the start of the third over, Wasim said that they had bowled many in swingers and should switch to out swingers. They told me that they would call which direction they would swing the ball before bowling. Waqar too followed suit and bowled an out swinger that landed perfectly on the seam.”

The former off-spinner credited the challenge for his remarkable achievement where the spinner took the highest number of wickets in a calendar year.

“After the three overs, I checked the balls that were being used. The balls were still new after the overs because each ball landed perfectly on their seam. I learned a lot from their intensity, control and rivalry that day. I told myself that if I wanted to achieve something in life, I had to learn from these great players. The intensity, bowling action, repeatability of performance, consistency and control was perfect. Even their run-ups had the same footsteps, not an inch here or there. After a little time, I made a world record of taking the most wickets in a calendar year. Their net session was instrumental for my record. I would give credit to the rivalry of these two legends for my success,” he concluded.