There are not many players in world cricket right now who play a cover drive with as much beauty as Pakistan’s Babar Azam. However, in a talk with Harsha Bhogle on Cricbuzz in Conversation, the Pakistan skipper reviewed an occurrence during his teenagers where his impulsive nature to hit drives nearly experienced him in difficulty with Shoaib Akhtar.
“I was consistently enthusiastic about batting. I was a ball boy during an series among Pakistan and South Africa. That was the first occasion when I saw Shoaib Akhtar in real life. The run up, the pace, it was quite something.
“I remember, there was a camp for the emerging players or Pakistan A. That time, they would even call some of us from the Under-15 team to practice with them. Mudassar Nazar, who was there, would call us to bat first. We were asked to bat first so that the bowlers could warm up and understand their pacess.” Babar said.
This would end up being a decent learning experience for the young players, who got a chance to comprehend the pace at which international bowlers bowl and furthermore to test their aptitudes. However, one day Shoaib Akhtar turned up for training.
“Shoaib Akhtar would come there at times, towards the end of the camp to bowl for a bit. One day, he asked for a batsman to bowl at and Mudassar bhai asked him to take me along with him. So I got ready and was quite excited. Shoaib told me, ‘Kid, I will pitch the ball full, just block it, don’t drive’. I said okay. I blocked the first two balls but drove the third one.
“I kept doing that block two balls and drive the third one. He was like, ‘Get me a new ball, I will show him’. Immediately, Mudassar bhai told me, ‘get out of the nets or he will kill you’. He took me out of the nets.
“However, whenever he would come to the nets thereafter, he would ask me to come and face him. He would bowl full but once, by mistake, he bowled a bouncer and luckily the ball went over my head.” Babar Further added in his video chat with CricBuzz.