India and Pakistan are considered as arch-rivals on the cricket field. The thrill, emotions and the intensity between the two teams brings out best performances from the players. Pakistan’s veteran bowler Shoaib Akhtar was one of the finest and lethal speedster of his era and was nicknamed, Rawalpindi Express. While Akhtar produced a plethora of match-defining performances throughout his cricket career, some of his most phenomenal bowling spells came against rivals India. Here’s a look at 5 best performances produced by the Rawalpindi Express against the Men in Blue.
4/47 vs India, Eden Gardens, 1999
Akhtar’s best performance against India in the purest format of the game came during the Kolkata Test in 1999. Batting first, Pakistan struggled to get going as they collapsed at a mere score of 185. In reply, India could also make just 223 runs at the Eden Gardens. The reason behind India’s poor performance was Akhtar.
The Rawalpindi Express picked four wickets while giving 71 runs. This was followed by the seamer delivering an even better performance in the last innings as he recorded a figure, 20.1-5-47-4. The efforts by Akhtar paid off as Pakistan won the match by 46 runs.
3/47 vs India, Rawalpindi, 2004
India and Pakistan were up against each other in a do-or-die Test match in Rawalpindi in 2004 as the three-match Test series was leveled by 1-1. Following the score of 224 posted by Pakistan, India caused a carnage on the field in the second innings. The visitors racked up a massive score of 600 runs courtesy of Rahul Dravid who played a remarkable knock of 270 runs.
In an otherwise torrid performance, the only positive for Pakistan was Akhtar who picked three wickets while bowling at an economy rate of 2.22. Akhtar was the most successful bowler for Pakistan, however, the seamer didn’t get any support from other players and thus the hosts lost the match by an innings and 131 runs.
4/58 vs India, Delhi, 2007
Akhtar’s another fine performance against India came in a losing cause as the hosts won the first Test of the three-match series in Delhi. India were required to chase 203 runs in the last innings to script a victory.
Akhtar tried his best to take the team home as he took four important wickets in the last innings including the likes of Dinesh Karthik, Wasim Jaffer, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly. The seamer gave away 58 runs in his 18.1 overs. However, apart from Akhtar, no Pakistan bowler gained any success. India comfortably scored 203 runs in 61.1 overs while losing four wickets.
4/36 vs India, Edgbaston, 2004
The Rawalpindi Express recorded his best figures against India in One-day format during a league game of ICC Champions Trophy in Edgbaston in 2004. Batting first, India collapsed at 200 in their 50 overs.
Akhtar ran through the Men in Blue’s batting line-up to pick as many as four wickets while conceding just 36 runs. Chasing 201 in 50 overs wasn’t a big tals for Pakistan and they easily won the match by three wickets. Meanwhile, it was Mohammad Yousuf who walked away with Man of the Match Award for his scintillating knock of 81 runs.
3/19 vs India, Brisbane, 2000
Akhtar’s another mind-boggling performance against India came during the ODI tri-series between India, Pakistan and Australia. India were folded at 195 runs in the first innings in their 50 overs at The Gabba. The 46-year-old pacer was the wrecker-in-chief for Men in Green as he picked a three-wicket haul.
Akhtar leaked just 19 runs while sending Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Sameer Dighe back to the pavilion. The seamer was aptly supported by Saqlain Mushtaq who picked two wickets. In the end, Pakistan scripted a victory by two wickets as they completed the target on the very last ball of the match.