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Adieu la légende Shoaib Akhtar

Akhtar going back to his mark after bowling out 
fast and furiously MJ with a beautiful delivery
after Sachin at Kolkata
As the title says for itself, Adieu la légende. I was in my university when this news broke that one of my personal favourite fast bowler of all time, Shoaib Akhtar got a retirement as soon as Pakistan's world cup comes to an end, either by winning or even before that. I was reading comments on Cricinfo, and everyone got me flashbacked to that marvelous bowling spell at Kolkata and than the Cricket World Cup 1999 Semi Final fiery spell against the Kiwis, or the Current Cricket World Cup 2011s league match against the mighty Lankans, where he bowled out a fast delivery to get rid of Mahela Jayawerdene.

Although Akhtar's carrer has several full stops, which resulted delay in his career debut aswell, but I personally think he was much better than the current lot of Pakistani so called cream, who preferred themselves on Pakistan, don't wanna name them but you guys know whom I am pointing to, atleast he came out of all grays around him, specially the time when Pakistan recently toured England where spot-fixing scam took place, or if going at the time-line, he was not named even at the Match-Fixing tribunal's outcome where Pakistan's cream got punishments including Wasim Akram but he was spared as he was also with the team since 1996-1997.

His carrer, although has been ruined because of two factors during his primitive career, as according to South Asian Standards, they're very little and only handful. If we sneak peak into his career we'll find out that because of his injuries and bowling-action controversies, because of which it has been a mere that he used to play a complete series.
Bowling averages
Mat Inns Balls Runs Wkts BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 4w 5w 10
Tests 46 82 8143 4574 178 6/11 11/78 25.69 3.37 45.7 10 12 2
ODIs 163 162 7764 6169 247 6/16 6/16 24.97 4.76 31.4 6 4 0
T20Is 15 15 318 432 19 3/38 3/38 22.73 8.15 16.7 0 0 0

Fir me, following were some of my personal favourite spells by him.

The wicket, gave identity to this fast bowler
at that time for Indian players and fans
4 for 71 v India, Asian Test Championship, Kolkata, 1999
Two balls that silenced 100,000 spectators. Indian fans weren't too familiar with Shoaib Akhtar but he introduced himself in a manner that left a packed Eden Gardens shell-shocked in a minute. He broke through Rahul Dravid's defences with a fiery inswinging yorker that uprooted leg stump but what followed was unfathomable to the crowd then. India's best batsman strolled to the crease to wild cheers and walked back to the pavilion to stunned silence. Facing Shoaib for the first time, Sachin Tendulkar was at the receiving end of another inswinging yorker, which he failed to keep out and which sent the middle stump cartwheeling towards the wicketkeeper. Shoaib had well and truly arrived. He bagged eight wickets in a match-winning performance.

Akhtar's fiery spell didn't allow the Kiwis to
get settled during the Cricket World Cup 1999
3 for 55 v New Zealand, World Cup semi-final, Manchester, 1999
Shoaib lit up the World Cup semi-final in Manchester in front of a partisan crowd to give his favourite opposition their first taste of what would be a regular diet from him. He hit 90 mph consistently and, though he went for a few, he aimed correctly and just at the right time to prevent New Zealand from posting a challenging score in what turned out to be a one-sided knockout. Shoaib bowled three spells, and dislodged a batsman in each. Nathan Astle was his first victim. Stephen Fleming had just slashed him to third man when Shoaib returned from round the wicket to fire in a 92mph yorker that cleaned up leg stump. And, in his final spell, pace gave way to subtlety as Chris Harris was undone by a superbly disguised slower ball. New Zealand were kept to 241 for 7, and Pakistan chased that down with no difficulty.

Akhtar broke the 100mph barrier in the same match
6 for 11 v New Zealand, 1st Test, Lahore, 2002
New Zealand were steamrolled with both bat and ball in Lahore and Shoaib joined in the hammering. New Zealand were up against it after Pakistan had piled up 643 in the first innings, and Shoaib's spell shut them completely out of contention. His six victims were all either bowled or lbw as his fiery pace and toe-crushing lengths simply proved too hot to handle. In a spell of fifty deliveries, Shoaib bagged 6 for 11 and skittled out New Zealand for 73, towards a massive defeat.

A fast bowler shattering the stumps of another
fast bowler at Colombo, 2002
5 for 21 v Australia, 1st Test, Colombo, 2002
Australia's pre-eminence had rarely been challenged in the late nineties and the early noughties, but one Shoaib spell threatened to cause a major upset against a young Pakistan team. Pakistan were looking to limit the damage after conceding a lead of 188 in the first innings but Shoaib sprung the Colombo Test back to life in a spell that made a nonsense of an unfavourable pitch with searing pace. Called on to bowl for a second spell after Australia had been well-placed at 71 for 1, Shoaib fired in a series of inswinging thunderbolts that crippled a powerful line-up. Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh and Steve Waugh were sent back in a matter of five deliveries and Adam Gilchrist was knocked off with a missile from round the wicket. Australia lost nine wickets for 53, of which Shoaib nipped out five, to collapse to 127 all out. The Pakistan batsmen, for their part, suffered a collapse of their own to lose by 41 runs.

Akhtar during ODI match against the Aussies 
at Brisbane, an spell which allowed Pakistan to
win their first bilateral ODI series against Aussies
in their own backyard
5 for 25 v Australia, 3rd ODI, Brisbane, 2002
Shoaib starred in another significant win for Pakistan, this time helping them seal an ODI series in Australia. He had the cushion of a competitive score and derailed an Australian line-up that struggled to put up a challenge. Ponting fell to pace, Darren Lehmann was bowled round his legs, Michael Bevan was caught behind while the tail offered little resistance. Shoaib followed up three wickets in three overs with a couple more down the order to finish with 5 for 25 and catch Australia short by 91 runs.

Akhtar's 5-for in first and 6-for in the second
innings literally shattered the Kiwis like this
Ian Butler's wicket
6 for 30 v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Wellington, 2003
Shoaib's love affair with New Zealand's batting continued in Wellington, the hosts caving in to a devastating spell to set up a memorable victory for Pakistan. His pace acquired greater potency with the movement and swing in a windy Wellington and the New Zealand batsmen failed to measure up to that. Shoaib had picked up a five-for in the first innings but his batsmen had let that effort down, conceding a lead of 170. New Zealand looked good to put it beyond the visitors in the second innings before Shoaib struck. He removed a stodgy Mark Richardson and Scott Styris off successive deliveries, and combined with seamer Shabbir Ahmed to clean up the tail. New Zealand lost seven wickets for eight runs in 10.4 overs and Pakistan's batsmen stepped up in the second innings to chase down 274.

Although one must not forget the bowling spell against the Kiwis at Pallekele, one must praise Ross Taylor where he literally shattered SA, but he's one of the greats of the game when it comes to fiery fast bowling, and while the chapter of Shoaib Akhtar gonna end, I don't think there would be a pace bowler like him as Shane Bond retired, Tait and Lee gonna soon, so I'd call this decade in which fast bowling would have an end. Alas!

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