Tips from arch nemesis

“As a child, I would never like it when Wasim Akram would dismiss Indian batsmen, but as a fast bowler, I have always looked up to him as an inspiration,” says Irfan Pathan.

Irfan Pathan with Wasim Akram.

In those days, selfie was an alien term. Even if you bumped into your idol, there was no way for you to capture the moment in your smart phone. Simple reason — smart phone was still unheard of.

So, when I first met my childhood hero, Wasim Akram, in Adelaide in 2004, there was no way for me to record those moments. There was no photographer around and it happened all too sudden. But then, I distinctly remember each and every bit of it. We were in Australia — which incidentally was my first stint with the Indian team — when I bumped into Wasim bhai at the breakfast table one morning. He was in Australia as a commentator and after garnering enough courage, I walked up to him for a chat and some tips.

He welcomed me with a smile and made sure that I did not feel uncomfortable. He spoke to me politely and in a way as if we knew each other for years. I have been a big fan of his and every time I saw him on television, I would make it a point to observe his approach towards the game.

That way, I owe him a lot. So, on that day, after a while, Wasim bhai was getting ready to hit the ground with Ashish Nehra — who had asked him for some tips.

For a moment I thought, this was the perfect opportunity to learn a thing or two from one of the best bowlers of all times. So, I politely asked him: “Can I join you guys?”

Wasim bhai looked at me, smiled a bit, and said: “Of course, you can…”

I think Wasim bhai knew that I would make such a request. During that session, he guided me on how to maintain a proper line and length. He also advised me on how to intimidate a batsman during pressure situations.

Later, during our tour to Pakistan, I met Imran Khan at his residence. It was a memorable experience, but even today, I fondly cherish the memories of meeting Wasim bhai for the first time. For a newcomer, it was a lifetime experience.

As a child, I would never like it when Wasim Akram would dismiss Indian batsmen, but as a fast bowler, I have always looked up to him as an inspiration.

Thanks for the memories, Wasim bhai!

As told to Shayan Acharya