'He Used to Hate Me Like Anything': Shoaib Akhtar Names the Guy He Could Never Get Out
Shoaib Akhtar, a former fast bowler for Pakistan, spent his entire career scaring the best hitters in the world. But there was one person who kept him up at night: Lakshmipathy Balaji, who used to play for India.
In 2004, when India won a tour of Pakistan, they played each other. This match is still remembered as an important part of the game's past.
Before the game at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium, the 5-match ODI series was tied at 2-2. Balaji got 10 not out in 6 deliveries, one of which was a six over mid-wicket off Shoaib Akhtar's bowling.
In a podcast interview with Indian stand-up comic Sorabh Pant, the former Pakistan pacer talked about playing against Balaji.
"I remember that my most difficult rival. This batter, SV Balaji, used to make me feel scared. No, it wasn't him. It was a different Balaji. He was a pitcher. Akhtar told Sorabh Pant, "Lakshmipathy Balaji."
"He used to beat me. Wo mujhe maarta tha yaar me aa kar." He used to hate me as much as he could. I was all over the place, man, and I couldn't get him out," he said.
Sourav Ganguly was in charge of India's tour of Pakistan in 2004. During that trip, India beat Pakistan in both the Test and ODI games. Balaji had a great tour. He scored 45 runs, and 35 of them were in boundaries.
He also took 6 wickets for less than 6 runs each. He was also tied with Irfan Pathan for the second most wickets in the Test series.
In public talks, the former India pacer has said that the tour of 2004 was one of his best times.