World's fastest bowler Shoaib Akhtar on Sunday revealed that current Pakistan chief selector Inzamamul Haq was the most difficult batsman to get out in his opinion.
"There were a lot of players in the world [whom I found difficult to get out] but the most difficult, whom I couldn't even get out in the nets, was Inzamam," said Akhtar in the Wasim Akram-hosted show The Sportsman.
"I think there was no other player who played me better than him. His footwork was quick, he would place himself and be ready to play. He could see the ball earlier than many. I always thought he had an extra second. However fast I bowl, he had placed himself where the ball would land," he added.
On 1999 India tour
Pakistan toured India in 1999 to play a two-match Test series and one-off match of the Asian Test Championship.
Akhtar got his chance in the third match. He bagged eight wickets in that Test, four in each innings, with the highlight being the pacer dismissing Rahul David and Sachin Tendulkar on consecutive deliveries.
"You [Wasim, the then captain] gave me the ball after lunch and you were telling me to do this and that," Akhtar reminisced. "Then you became quiet for some time and I thought to myself that I should open up and bowl a quicker one to Dravid. When Dravid was bowled, then I realised that Sachin is coming. I realised that he didn't walk in while watching the shine on the ball."
He continued: "I turned from my mark to bowl and you shouted, 'O Shabi, pura told k lana andar ta k leg stump miss na ho' (Shoaib, swing it in calculatedly so it doesn't miss the leg stump). I turned again and I stopped and said to myself, Ya Allah, if I get this wicket, my dream will be fulfilled in Kolkatta."
"I ran in and as I was approaching the crease, I saw that the gap between Sachin's bat and his pads was opening. And then when I bowled outside off-stump, I knew he would miss it. As soon as it hit the middle stump, it was an amazing moment for me."
Akhtar has recorded the fastest-ever ball in the history of cricket which was measured at 100.2mph and says his inspiration came from watching Wasim, Waqar Younis and Imran Khan.
"First I saw you and Imran; the I saw Waqar and you bowling," said Shoaib. “Then I thought to myself that if I copy you people, I might become someone. Sometimes I used to copy your bowling action. I also used to copy Waqar's hand gesture while he talks, as he doesn't have a pinky on his left hand; so, I would copy that even."
The 41-year-old however laid emphasis on having heroes and inspirations.
"Inspiration is very important. Heroes are very important. If there are no heroes you cannot get inspired. You try to become like them but then you blossom into something else. So, I copied you and Waqar. I couldn't copy Imran because he is a little too handsome to copy," said Akhtar.
And what did Akhtar want to do in life? "I wanted to be a fast-bowler right from day one. I wanted to bowl fast and I wanted to do this only," he said.