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3rd January 1997. Pakistan versus West Indies at the Gabba. The night before the crucial match against West Indies, I had a very high temperature and our physio Dan Kiesel made the team captain Wasim Akram and management aware that I was a major doubt for the match.

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by Saj Sadiq (5th November 2009)

 

 

3rd January 1997. 

Pakistan versus West Indies at the Gabba.

The night before the crucial match against West Indies, I had a very high temperature and our physio Dan Kiesel made the team captain Wasim Akram and management aware that I was a major doubt for the match. 

I was awake for most of the night and Dan Kiesel told me that my temperature was around 103/104 degrees. Dan kept a close eye on me during the night and suggested that I "sweat it out". He gave me some hot drinks and I tried to get some sleep. However I sweated so much that I woke up dehydrated and feeling very unwell and weak on the morning of the match.

At the team meeting on the morning of the match the squad were informed that Aamir Sohail would miss the match with an eye injury, both Mushtaq Ahmed and Waqar Younis would also miss the match with shoulder injuries and Saeed Anwar had already returned to Pakistan due to an injury. A replacement had been requested from Pakistan, but he wasnt going to be there in Australia in time for the match at the Gabba. The squad was threadbare and we were struggling to get eleven players on the field.

The match was a day/nighter which meant that I would have a little more time than usual to recover from the fever and Wasim Akram approached me at breakfast and said that it would be great if I could make the match. He really motivated me and said that great players play for their country when they aren't fully fit. Wasim's words were inspirational and I really wanted to play for Pakistan that day, irrespective of how ill I felt.

As the team bus left the hotel to go to the ground, I was told to stay at the hotel and get a taxi later to the ground later that day. 

2 cups of coffee and a few tablets later and I made the trip to the ground and told Wasim that I would play.

We only managed to score 197 on a bouncy track as Courtney Walsh, Ian Bishop and Ambrose took the majority of wickets.

I remember Wasim gave me the new ball and told me to bowl as fast as I could. 

Brian Lara came in at number 3 as West Indies lost their first wicket with the score on 26 and we sensed that if we could get him out early we stood a chance of victory.

My first delivery to Lara was a yorker that beat him all ends up. It was absolutely plumb in front, hitting middle stump, but for some unknown reason the umpire gave him not out.

I was of the mentailty that I was an unknown bowling to such a great batsman and I had nothing to lose. I mixed up my spell with bouncers, yorkers and length deliveries and Lara really struggled against me.

I was bowling with good rhythm but still feeling weak from the fever. I managed to consistently beat Lara, both on the outside edge and the inside edge. At one point after my follow through I approached him and stared at him and he ushered me back to the start of the runup, which I didnt like. Several times I walked up to him in my follow through and glared at him, but Lara wasn't interested in eye contact as he knew he was facing a fast and hostile spell of bowling.

We did our best to unsettle Lara and Wasim bhai also had a few choice words for him too. I still cant believe that I didnt get Lara out earlier in that innings and he went onto make 48 before Moin caught him off my bowling.

Carl Hooper saw the West Indies home but it took them until the 49th over before they reached the target.

I bowled fast that day, but it wasnt my fastest spell. I would say I was bowling 90 or so mph, but I believe that my fastest spell of bowling was with the Pakistan youth team that toured New Zealand where I believe that I touched 100mph. 

After the match both Brian Lara and Carl Hooper were very complimentary about Zahid. This is what was reported after the match :-

The talking point of the night, however, was the storming Australian international debut of stringbean Pakistan pace bowler Mohammad Zahid. In a Test-style confrontation, he captured the Gabba crowd's attention by livening up Lara with speed and lift and eventually snared him with a snick behind. Hooper branded the 21-year-old Zahid the fastest bowler he had faced on tour.

 

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