Shoaib reveals extent of Hayden animosity

Pakistan's fiery pacer took to social media to reveal he 'badly' wanted to hit the Aussie opener during their playing days

Shoaib Akhtar has revealed how he wanted to "hit" Australia opener Matthew Hayden during his playing days in a frank social media admission.

Shoaib had posted a meme on his Twitter account his week which claimed 19 batsmen had been retired hurt after being hit by deliveries from the searing pace of the bowler known as the Rawalpindi Express.

"I never enjoyed it but apart from one," Shoaib added, inviting his followers to guess who it is.

He later revealed the burly left-handed Queensland opener was one he "wanted to hit badly".

The pair had several run-ins in the early 21st Century, from the 2002 series where Hayden scored his famous "desert storm" century in Sharjah, and on Pakistan's 2004-05 tour of Australia.

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But their animosity goes back further than Test cricket, to a tour match on Pakistan's visit in the summer of 1999-2000.

Batting for Queensland, Hayden wore many blows to the upper body and helmet from Shoaib, who had taken objection to the big-hitting Hayden's brusque approach at the wicket.

Hayden had played seven Tests at that stage of his career, and was on his second hiatus from the Test team, which would end in the new year.

But at Brisbane's Allan Border Field in early November 1999, the two heavyweights went toe to toe.

Hayden had been run-out cheaply in Queensland's first innings, for 11, as the home side put on 274.

But in the second innings, Shoaib peppered him with a fierce opening spell that can be found on YouTube. At one point he put his thumb to his nose and waggled his fingers and poked his tongue out as he approached the crease in his run-up.

An unperturbed Hayden defended the short ball resolutely, and over the course of nearly six hours he was masterful in compiling 128, featuring 15 boundaries and one brutal six.

His dismissal, to the first ball of Shoaib 's new spell, pitched outside leg to the batsman's eye, and his mood was darkened further when the weary bowler still found it in him to give him a send-off to the dressing room.

The pair played five Tests in opposition, with Hayden losing his wicket to Shoaib three times – all in the 2004 home series, and all cheaply amid plenty of verbals.

In the Perth Test opener, Hayden fell in the match's third over, Shoaib 's second, trapped lbw for four. In the second innings Hayden lasted until Shoaib 's fifth over before shouldering arms and being bowled.

In the second Test in Melbourne he was caught on nine to be Shoaib 's scalp for a third straight time. He would not fall victim again, but managed just 128 runs at 32 in six innings.

In one-day cricket Shoaib was at perhaps his most destructive, but not against Hayden. He captured the Aussie's wicket just the once, when he already had 59 on the board, in an August 2004 tri-series played amid foul weather in the Netherlands.

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Shoiab's social media missive said that he and Hayden are nowadays "best mates" and the pair did enjoy some banter in the lead-up to their first T20 match against each other, in the Cricket All Stars event in the US set up by Shane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar.

There Shoaib and Hayden renewed rivalries, and the Pakistani again claimed his man, snared off a glove down the leg side from a short ball.

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Hayden was far from the only batsman troubled by Shoaib. No less a judge than Ricky Ponting rated a spell at the WACA in 1999 as the quickest he ever faced.

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Justin Langer offered an insight into the Australian openers approach to Shoaib that perhaps revealed where much of the angst stems from.

Langer and Hayden, of course, forged Australia's most successful first-wicket combination with together, and the Western Australian recalled how he and the Queenslander worked out how to get the best of express quick Shoaib.

"Different bowlers, you had to treat differently," he said. "With Shoaib Akhtar, we knew that if we wound him up, he'd try and bowl faster and faster.

"And the faster he'd try to bowl, he'd give you a couple of balls to hit for four every over.

Shoaib, Hayden and Langer exchange words in 2004 // Getty
Shoaib, Hayden and Langer exchange words in 2004 // Getty

"So I kept smiling at him and we used to really bait him, and he just got angrier and angrier, and that was our ploy."

And while it didn't always pay off for Hayden, it evidently worked for Langer. In 10 Tests Langer lost his wicket to the paceman just twice (for scores of 30 and 144), scoring four hundreds in the process.

Two of those came on his home patch of the WACA Ground in Perth – a pitch generally considered the quickest on the planet through the Australian's career.

Quick Single: Dhoni names Shoaib toughest bowler he faced

Earlier this year, India great MS Dhoni named Shoaib as the most difficult bowler he had ever faced.

Their paths crossed just 10 times in international cricket: five Tests, and five ODIs. Despite limited contests against each other, the Rawalpinidi Express clearly made his mark, and enjoyed good success, particularly in one-day matches.

"Very simple reason: he was quick, he was fast, he could bowl a yorker, he could bowl a bouncer but you never expected a beamer," Dhoni said.

"He was a bit unpredictable (but) he was fun to play against."