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  1. #1
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    "Playing against India was the highlight of my career" : Wasim Akram

    Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram said playing arch-rivals India was the highlight of his career and that it was an unbelievable experience.

    The India-Pakistan cricket rivalry captures the imagination of the entire cricketing world but the two arch-rivals have not played each other in a bilateral series since 2012-13 due to strained relations.

    Last year, former India sports minister Vijay Goel had categorically stated there could be no bilateral cricket with Pakistan as "cricket and terrorism can't go hand-in-hand."

    In fact, the last time India and Pakistan played out a full-fledged bilateral series was including Tests was way back in 2007-08. The likes of Virat Kohli, R Ashwin, Azhar Ali and Mohammad Amir have never played an India-Pakistan Test match.

    However, Akram, one of Pakistan's most celebrated cricketers, does know a thing or two about the pressure of playing India. He played 12 Tests and 48 ODIs vs India - out of those 8 Tests and 18 ODIs were played in India.

    "Indo-Pak cricket is something different, something unbelievable. One series can get you a couple of players that can go on and play for you for 15 years," Akram, 51, told India Today.

    "The amount of pressure, the celebrations start months before the games or series. I mean I was lucky that I played three series against India...two in India and one in Pakistan; so you know I remember it like it was yesterday, it was the highlight of my career playing against India either in Pakistan or in India. It was just unbelievable, I can't explain it in words," he said.

    Akram said the India-Pakistan rivalry was bigger than the Ashes, the oldest cricket rivalry in cricket history. "The beauty of Indo-Pak cricket is something you can't compare with any other cricket (rivalry) in the world. I am all for the Ashes; when they talk about Ashes how many people can watch the Ashes? Five million, 10 million or let's say 20 million.

    "The World Cup game that India and Pakistan played in Australia at Adelaide -- a billion people watched that game," he said.

    The Indian government has said there will be no bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan unless Pakistan stop cross-border terrorism.

    "As far as cricket is concerned, the government is of the view India will not play any bilateral sport with Pakistan if they are promoting terrorism. Everything has a limit. If Pakistan cross that limit, sports and terrorism cannot go side-by-side," Goel had told India Today last year.

    India and Pakistan, however, continue to play each other at ICC events - last year, the two nationals squared off in the Champions Trophy. While India won the first group match, Pakistan, riding on Amir's magical spell, beat India in the final to lift the trophy.

    https://www.indiatoday.in/sports/cri...168-2018-02-08


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  2. #2
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    Virat Kohli a treat to watch, a complete cricketer: Wasim Akram to India Today

    Virat Kohli drew high praise from Pakistan legend Wasim Akram, who said the India captain was a complete cricketer and a treat to watch.

    Kohli has been in rich form over the last several years and has been unstoppable on India's tour of South Africa, where he has scored three hundreds including two in three ODIs.

    The 29-year-old scored a staggering 2818 international runs including 11 hundreds in 2017 - he was the highest run-scorer in ODIs last year with 1460 runs from 26 matches.

    Against South Africa, Kohli got off to a poor start in the first Test of the three-match series but hit a stylish 153 in Centurion and followed that up with scores 54 and 41 on a dodgy Wanderers pitch to lead India to only their third Test victory in South Africa.

    Kohli continued his golden run in the ODIs - hammering 112, 46 not out and 160 not out in Durban, Centurion and Cape Town respectively. Consequently, India are now 3-0 ahead in the six-match series and on the verge of their first ever bilateral series triumph in South Africa.

    Like the rest of the world, Akram too is in awe of Kohli's consistency, fitness and an undying hunger for runs. Speaking exclusively to India Today in Switzerland, the former Pakistan captain said Kohli got the "idea of how to get runs" about two or three years ago and reckoned even he would struggle to bowl to Kohli. That is high praise from someone who has taken 916 international wickets.

    "Obviously fitness matters and at a certain age batsmen get the knack, batsmen get an idea how to get runs and I think he got the idea about 2-3 years ago how to get runs, what sort of shots to play and reading the situation," Akram said. "He is very good at these things and have you seen his record while chasing!. He is averaging 90 in one day cricket and now he gets 160 (not out) in first innings too (batting first vs South Africa in the 3rd ODI)."

    "Kohli is a treat to watch. At times when you do think or imagine if I was young and playing against Virat Kohli where would I bowl and I do feel it would be a bit difficult to bowl at him. It doesn't matter what sort of pitch it is because he is a complete player. I think in world cricket after Sachin Tendulkar, it's his turn now."

    Akram lauded India for bouncing back after losing the Test series - they had lost the first two Tests in Durban and Centurion but have since won four consecutive matches (one Test, three ODIs) against the hosts. In the process, India also snapped South Africa's record run of 17 consecutive ODI victories at home.

    Akram said it has been a brilliant effort from India: "Especially after the way they lost the first two Test matches and then the way they won the third Test match on a shifty, dodgy kind of pitch and then winning the (first three) ODIs so convincingly. It's really heartening to see the way they are performing."

    Kohli has led from the front - scoring runs at will and using wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav to good effect. Akram appreciated the captain's knocks the Delhi dasher has played irrespective of the situation and conditions.

    "It depends on a leader, he is leading from the front, he is a supreme athlete, he is getting runs every game. First innings, second innings, Test match, ODIs, T20Is...I think Kohli is not only a role model for India, he is a role model all over the world," he said.

    Akram attributed Kohli's confidence as captain to his stupendous success as a batsman - he felt both factors were related and success in the player's primary role helped in his leadership on the field. The Sultan of Swing also praised coach Ravi Shastri and said he was doing a great job with the team.

    "I think it's related. Batting and captaincy or bowling or captaincy. If you are doing your job well as a batsman, then the same confidence comes in to what you do as a leader. And for me, cricket is a very unique sport as we all know. There is a born leader in cricket, but there is not a born captain and for me, the more you do it, how to deal with situations, how to make a decision there and then if partnership is happening....how to handle the press, get to know the players individually, psyche, the coach is also very important and I'm glad Shaz (Ravi Shastri) is doing a great job. He is a like minded guy, Shaz was always a hard guy, hardworking and when he was relaxed, he always enjoyed himself, you know. That's why I think he is embedding into his team as well," Akram said.

    https://www.indiatoday.in/sports/cri...371-2018-02-08


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  3. #3
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    Agree with him re Kohli. Also Pakistan India is just special to watch, can't imagine what it must feel like to play in.

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