Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar was known for his threatening pace bowling that troubled batters around the globe. In a recent interview ahead of the IND vs PAK Asia Cup 2023 game, Akhtar revealed that former Indian pacer Lakshmipathy Balaji was his toughest opponent and it was quite difficult to get rid of him.
Lakshmipathy Balaji used to be my biggest opponent: Shoaib Akhtar
The former pacer recently appeared as a guest on the YouTube channel, Wake Up With Sorabh. He was asked about his toughest opponent in the IND vs PAK clashes and he picked Lakshmipathy Balaji as the batter who troubled him the most.
“Lakshmipathy Balaji used to be my biggest opponent. He used to hate me like anything, I was all over the place man. I could not get him out,” Shoaib Akhtar said on ‘Wake Up With Sorabh’.
That’s not the first time when Shoaib hailed Lakshmipathy Balaji for his batting. During the IPL 2022, Rawalpindi Express had referred to him as his ‘most fearsome rival’.
“Sachin was not comfortable in facing his ball, the entire Indian team couldn’t play me but this one guy, Balaji kept hitting me for sixes batting down the order,” Akhtar had said in a conversation during the IPL 2022.
The most iconic battle between Akhtar and Balaji took place during Team India’s historic tour of Pakistan in 2004. While the ODI series was tied at 2-2, the final game at Lahore saw Lakshmipathy Balaji taking on Shoaib Akhtar.
The final over of the Indian innings saw a high voltage drama, as Shoaib broke Balaji’s bat with a speedy delivery, while the Indian cricketer got back at him with an incredible six. Balaji and Irfan Pathan’s crucial partnership led the Indian Team to a match-winning total of 293/7.
We want to defeat India in ICC ODI World Cup 2023: Shoaib Akhtar
On the same YouTube show, Akhtar was also asked about the upcoming IND vs PAK contest in the Super Four stage of Asia Cup 2023. Rawalpindi Express opined that Pakistan wants to defeat the Men in Blue in the marquee tournament.
“We have to come to India and we want to defeat India. We haven’t spent 600 crores. You want to come to India, the pressure is on you, the media will eat you up right away,” Akhtar said in the interview.
The ICC ODI World Cup is scheduled to begin on October 5 and the two arch-rivals will contest against each other on October 14 in Ahmedabad.