Shoaib names the best he ever bowled to

Retired Pakistan quick says former skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq played him better than any other batsman

Former Pakistan pace ace Shoaib Akhtar says his former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq played him better than any batsman he bowled to during his exhilarating career.

Shoaib, one of the fastest bowlers to have ever played the game, terrorised batsmen for more than a decade and his career tally of 444 international wickets barely does justice to the fear he put into opponents around the world.

The 41-year-old says of all the batsmen he bowled to, including modern greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting, no-one played him better than his legendary teammate.

"There were a lot of players in the world (I found difficult to get out) but the most difficult, who I couldn't even get out in the nets, was Inzamam," Shoaib said in an interview with Wasim Akram on the former allrounder's talk show The Sportsman.

"I think there was no other player who played me better than him.

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"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."

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Inzamam, who played in 34 of Shoaib's 46 Tests, tallied 35 centuries in his 16-year international career and is regarded as one of Pakistan's greatest-ever batsmen.

After a stint as head coach of Afghanistan, he was named Pakistan's chief selector earlier this year and has overseen their rise to the No.1 ranking in Test cricket.

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As a 22-year-old, he was part of the Pakistan side that won the 1992 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, a team that was captained by the great Imran Khan and also featured the likes of Wasim and Javed Miandad. 

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Shoaib, who was a 16-year-old when Imran lifted the World Cup trophy at the MCG, says he was inspired by the golden generation of Pakistan cricket.

"I wanted to be a fast bowler right from day one," he said. "I wanted to bowl fast and I wanted to do this only.

"Inspiration is very important. Heroes are very important. If there are no heroes you cannot get inspired.

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"You try to become like them but then you blossom into something else.

"First I saw you (Wasim) and Imran. Then I saw Waqar (Younis) and you bowling.

"Then I thought to myself that if I copy you people, I might become someone."

Meg Lanning Steve Smith