When it comes to fast bowling, there are few names that come close to Wasim Akram. The formidable Pakistani fast bowler is one of the greats of the game of cricket and one of the most lethal exponents of the trade of pace bowling. NDTV caught up with the legendary fast bowler in Dubai in the backdrop of the second season of the T10 league.
NDTV: You know T20 has been called the death of the bowlers, what about T10 now, as every over is like a slog over?
Wasim Akram: T10 is a death for bowlers, I could have never imagined that somebody would be scoring 183 in 10 overs that too against top bowlers in world. Thank God I have retired but it's entertaining for the spectators, especially for the youngsters. If you want to globalise the game, this is the best way to go about because people don't have time nowadays.
NDTV: What is now the most gruelling format of cricket, Test Cricket or T10s?
WA: See, the ultimate is Test cricket, that's where the greats come from. Test cricket is about stats, it's about consistency, people talk about Bradman, Sachin Tendulkar, 100 centuries, 50-60 averages. In T20 nobody talks about averages, who won yesterday? Okay A team won, B team lost, who's playing tomorrow? So, you know it's just happening... for me, for any cricketer or any cricket lover Test cricket is the ultimate.
NDTV: Talking about Tests, India will be taking on Australia in a big series Down Under. Would you think that it'll be a bigger test for the Indian batsmen or the Indian bowlers?
WA: I think the Indian bowlers will have it tough. To start off, there are a couple of drop-in pitches in Adelaide, Melbourne, they are not bouncy tracks any more. Brisbane will have a little bit of bounce. I think at Perth they are playing in a new stadium, I don't know what sort of pitch they have over there. I think whenever India, Pakistan or teams from the sub-continent tour in Australia, the batsmen also struggle but now with the batting tracks, Indian batting is very consistent.
Virat Kohli is leading from the front as a batsman and as a captain. It's the bowlers I'm worried about in Australia, the length where they bowl it, especially when the Kookaburra gets old after 20-25 overs, that's when the Australians take advantage.
NDTV: In terms of the bowling unit that India has, who do you think would be the X-factor in the series?
WA: I have seen in Australia even (James) Anderson struggles, if you have 130-135 pace, the ball doesn't swing. The SG balls swing and then they reverse swing, Duke swings in England all day long. But in Australia if you don't have pace, you probably will struggle. However you never know. It's a new Australian side. It's not the same Australian side we have seen in the last 30 years... it's new... they are under pressure, they just got hammered by Pakistan here in the UAE, and they got hammered by South Africa in Australia, so India definitely have an edge there.
NDTV: Talking about pressure, do you think that this Indian team is performing better than the past Indian teams because they have learnt to handle pressure?
WA: It's difficult to compare, it's impossible to compare from era to era. India produced so many great cricketers over the years and I have played against all of them. So, difficult to compare, but it will be a big test for them. With this young Indian side if they want to prove to the world that they are one of the best sides in the world, this is the tour.
NDTV: Do you think this will also define Virat Kohli's captaincy, he's been a great player but winning against Australia in Australia?
WA: Yeah he's got the best chance, inexperienced young Aussie side, go all out and of course if they get early wickets that's where the struggle for the bowlers is. I just worry about bowlers from India, Pakistan when they go there (Australia), sometimes they get excited with the bounce on the pitches, especially at Brisbane. So the idea is to pitch it up, don't bowl short, short of length delivery, because they will be expecting that.
NDTV: Virat Kohli and his team hasn't played against Pakistan. Do you think they are missing that classic rivalry and hence, they don't know the about the real pressure that you guys had during your playing times?
WA: Yeah probably not, I mean playing at neutral venues in one-off one-day games in ICC tournaments you can't tell. If they have a proper series, either in Pakistan or either in India, then both the teams will know what pressure is all about, both on and off the field, especially with the media nowadays.
They talk about everything on and off the field because they have a job to do. In our time, it was only the pressure from the crowd, you know from home hardly any television channel with live cricket you know with one off news channel but now it's a different ball game altogether.
NDTV: In a few months from now, the ICC World Cup happens. India has dropped MS Dhoni from the T20 team. Do you see him play in the World Cup?
WA: Yeah I would love to see MS Dhoni play the 2019 World Cup because you need experience there. On those England pitches with two new balls, the Kookaburra doesn't swing as much but still you need experience.
NDTV: The World Cup has gone back to the '92 format which you guys won, is the format good for the teams?
WA: The '92 format was all about the best teams, the consistent team will win the World Cup, and there won't be any flukes because every team has to play everyone, once against each other. So, the team which is consistent and the team which would peak at the right time will lift the trophy.