Sachin Tendulkar may have been the ultimate prize for bowlers around the world but for former Pakistan speedster, Shoaib Akhtar, it was the Little Master's compatriot Rahul Dravid who was the ‘biggest nightmare.’
In an interview to Wisden India on his birthday, Akhtar likened Dravid to boxing legend Mohammad Ali, saying the Indian batting great “would tire you out.”
Akhtar, who made his Test debut in 1997, made headlines around the world after dismissing Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar off consecutive deliveries in the first match of the Asian Test Championship at Kolkata in 1999.
The ‘Rawalpindi Express’ said that while Tendulkar's wicket made him a superstar, it was Dravid who was the real intimidating factor in the superstar Indian batting lineup.
“Yes, Sachin made me a star. So I’m thankful to him. He’s a great batsman, without a doubt. He can play better than anyone else. When he got going, he was a nightmare. But the biggest nightmare I ever faced was Rahul Dravid. He used to bore me. He was the first batsman who could intimidate me, in terms of when he walked in, I knew I would have to field for at least two sessions more,” Akhtar revealed.
According to Akhtar, who is now a straight-shooting television expert, only the former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram had the ability to outsmart Dravid.
“The only guy who could stop him [Dravid] was Wasim [Akram], I had no ability to do that. I think in Test matches he was the toughest I bowled to. Sachin was a brutal force. When he got going, he made sure he scored runs. But Dravid killed you mentally. And physically he tired you.
“He was like Mohammad Ali, he would tire you out and then knock you down.”
Akhtar praise for Dravid comes just weeks after teammate and batting great Younis Khan credited the Indian for “playing a huge role” in his development as a top class batsman.
“The tips and advice I got from Dravid at the early stages of my career helped me develop into a top batsman,” Younis said.
Recalling Pakistan’s previous tours to India where he sought Dravid's help in fine-tuning his game, Younis said the Indian maestro had been always helpful.
“Dravid was a top class professional and one of the greats of the modern era and I learned from him,” the Pakistan veteran said.