DUBAI - Legendary former Pakistan pace bowler Wasim Akram bowled his heart out at the International Cricket Council (ICC) Academy nets on Friday. It was a great sight to see him bowl with his short run-up and produce the movement he used to generate during his playing days to beat batsmen.
As mentor of the Kolkata Knight Riders team, his job is only to guide them, but he became one of them by training as hard as the bowlers in the scorching heat before his team’s ‘Pepsi Indian Premier League 2014’ match against Delhi Daredevils at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Saturday. After the net practice, Gulf News asked him about his approach towards a bowler as the mentor and how he passes on his enormous knowledge about the art of bowling to them.
“For me, as bowling mentor means not to change a bowler’s action at this stage. They have all come here after doing the hard bit and I just mostly talk to them on questions about their bowling and how to pick a weakness and how to assess which shot a batsman is going to play,” he said. Akram went on to say that he is really happy with the Kolkata bowling attack which he is shaping. “I am really proud of this bowling attack. My job is much easier with people like Sunil Narine, Morne Morkel and Piyush Chawla as we have variety in our bowlers. By variety, I mean, wicket-taking bowlers. In T20, as you know, what matters is wickets because if you take wickets, you can block the opposition.”
So what does Akram feel makes his team’s bowling attack special? “Everybody is different. It is not a run-of-the-mill attack. We have Vinay Kumar, who varies his pace and Morkel bowls at 150-kph plus and Narine is unplayable. We have Chawla with his googlies and, though he is only 25, he bowls likes a very experienced campaigner.
“This is his seventh IPL. He had played for Kings XI Punjab and in a flat track in Mohali he got a lot of wickets, and so imagine if he gets a turner he will be unplayable.” Akram had made batsmen dance to his swing on Sharjah wickets during his playing days, so how did he find the Abu Dhabi wicket? “Frankly, I never knew the Abu Dhabi wicket. It was a good T20 wicket with even bounce. You must have seen Morne Morkel bowl a couple of short-of-length deliveries to Kieron Pollard when he came out to bat. That was the plan and strategy and these guys have made my job much easier.”
To a query about the Delhi team, Akram said: “In T20, every side is dangerous. Delhi had one bad game [the defeat to Royal Challengers Bangalore on Thursday], I suppose, but we are not going to take any opposition easily as every team is here to win and so it will be a tough game. We have played one game and won, but there is plenty to go.” Akram is also happy with his team’s batting line-up. “Imagine Yousuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hassan and Suryakumar Yadav coming down at No.7 and that shows the depth of our batting. We have a couple of all-rounders like Chawla, who has scored first-class hundreds and he is quite handy with the bat as well.
“The biggest plus about my team is that everybody is happy in each other’s company and they want every team member to do well. There are no sulkers in the team saying that they only want in with one over to bat. There is no such mentality and that is a great start.”