Wasim Akram’s career began when he was spotted by then Pakistan cricket captain Javed Miandad. At 18, he was selected to play for his country Pakistan in 1984, a decision that was backed by another player, Hasib Ahsan who also mentored him. When New Zealand were touring Pakistan in 1984, Akram played his first match in a First-Class encounter against the visitors in November at Rawalpindi. He proved himself by taking seven wickets. This was in the first innings. This was followed just a few days later by a one-day debut before Akram headed to New Zealand for a full tour which included his Test debut…
He went on to achieve a number of first and feats in his career despite health challenges. When he was 30, a cloud appeared in the form of a diabetes diagnosis. He had been losing quite a bit of weight which he put down to the demands of the game. He played a game against West Indies in this condition. Only at his father’s insistence did he visit a doctor who found out that his sugar levels were very high.
Still, Akram went on to play for his country for six more years and with great success. He had ball control like no other player; he could bowl at just the right pace and get the ball across great distances. At his peak, he made four great achievements in Tests and ODIs. The ODIs hat-tricks were in 1989 and 1990 at Sharjah. Nine years later, he did the ODI hat-tricks in Tests against Sri Lanka in back-to-back games which greatly contributed to Pakistan’s win in the Asian Test Championship. At this time, bookmakers and betting sites like Udatcha would have never predicted his future career.
He was on a roll. In the 2003 World Cup played in South Africa, Akram set a record of 500 ODI wickets. His finally tally was 502 joining the ranks of cricketers who have ever taken 400 ODI wickets alongside Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan. Akram is ranked ninth in wicket-taking among the left-armed in Tests with a total of 414 wickets, pace or spin.
He also has the highest score for a number eight batsman in Test cricket. In the 1996 game between Pakistan and Zimbabwe played at Sheikhupura, Pakistan had fallen behind after Zimbabwe’s 375 first innings score. Akram came to the rescue making 257 not out, an innings that had 22 fours and 12 sixes. He created a 313-run stand with Saqlain Mushtaq for the eighth wicket. Akram was also a most competent batsman who came through for his team and country when they needed him too.
In the late 1990s, Akram suffered a personal tragedy related to cricket when his father was kidnapped in relation to allegations of match-fixing in Pakistan cricket. He was not the team captain at the time but he was associated with the allegations. His father was released after a day.
Akram’s last international game was the 2003 World Cup when he was playing county cricket at Hampshire. He was one of the first players to be featured in a T20 game. That season, he played five T20s and took eight wickets with a 15.12 average. Since 2010, Akram has been the bowling coach of India’s Kolkata Knight Riders. With him at the helm, the team took the Indian Premier League in 2012 and 2014.