Wasim Akram      

Full name Wasim Akram

Born June 3, 1966, Lahore, Punjab

Current age 52 years 21 days

Major teams Pakistan, Hampshire, Lahore, Lancashire, Pakistan Automobiles Corporation, Pakistan International Airlines

Batting style Left-hand bat

Bowling style Left-arm fast

Wasim Akram
Best Performances
    Akram finds himself bowling in Test matches in New Zealand weeks after having been only an unknown club cricketer who didn't even make his college side. In only his second Test, Akram outshines Richard Hadlee on a seaming pitch. After Pakistan are bowled out cheaply, he takes out the Crowe brothers, John F Reid and Geoff Howarth to secure a 54-run lead. Defending 277 in the last innings, he has New Zealand down at 23 for 4 and 217 for 7, but can't finish off the job, dropping a return catch off Jeremy Coney, who goes on to score a match-winning century. He displays the signs of a fiery bowler, being warned for excessive use of short-pitched bowling in the final stages of the match. Wisden notes: "His line was good, his energy unbounded, and he moved the ball readily off the seam."
    Akram's hat-trick - the fourth in ODIs - ends West Indies' challenge when they have the match under control at 209 for 5, chasing 251. Going round the wicket, he hits Jeff Dujon's and Malcolm Marshall's leg stumps, and reverting to over the wicket, he finishes his eighth over by bowling Curtly Ambrose. Carlisle Best and Courtney Walsh add 29 for the last wicket, but Akram's fourth wicket in 13 balls leaves West Indies 11 runs short, with eight balls still to go.
    Before their batting fails collectively, it seems Akram has set this match up for Pakistan by bowling Australia out for 223. He impresses everyone with his pace and movement, achieved off a run of only a dozen paces, and returns his best Test figures. Akram's dismissal of Terry Alderman, finishing off the Australian innings with a spell of 3 for 8 in four overs, is his 100th wicket in his 30th Test match. In the second innings he toils 41.4 overs for a five-for, and with little support from the other end, can't kept Australia from getting to a winning lead. He is the Man of the Match, though.
    With some help from mentor Imran Khan, Akram the allrounder saves Pakistan from imminent defeat, even gives them a shot at victory for a while. His lively 68-ball 52 stalls a first-innings collapse, and then the five-for, including three wickets in the last over of Australia's innings, keeps the deficit down to 84. The best, though, is yet to come. With Saleem Malik and Javed Miandad injured, Pakistan are effectively 7 for 5, but the master and protégé play the innings of their lives. Imran's is a model of responsibility and orthodoxy, Wasim's a comparatively carefree exhibition of flair and fine driving. No one else in the match hits the ball with anything like the same power. Imran is able to make a challenging declaration, but Australia, already ahead in the series, take the safe option.
    Pakistan are defending champions thanks to a fabled last-ball six from Javed Miandad four years previously. The endgame in this one, if not that famous, is just as breathtaking. Before that, though, there is a small matter of taking 60 runs off the last five overs to set up a target. Akram scores a free-spirited 49 off 35 balls, two of his three sixes come in the final over, both landing in the stands. With almost four overs left, Australia require 37 to win with three wickets in hand, but Akram dashes any hopes with a hat-trick, clean-bowling Merv Hughes, Carl Rackemann and Terry Alderman.
    The most "fulfilling" moment of Imran Khan's life, the World Cup win is set up by Akram. What they call a whirlwind cameo, even by today's Twenty20 standards - an 18-ball 33 - sets up a total that they defend like the cornered tigers they've come to be known as. The breakthrough moments are provided by Akram. He gets Ian Botham with a sharp lifter, his favourite wicket of all time, in the first spell, and deals knockout blows with the old ball. From round the stumps, bowling at a massive angle, he gets two balls to leave right-handers suddenly, claiming Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis, and the chase is undone. Aaqib Javed, 10-2-27-2 himself, says, "Those two deliveries were unplayable. It was perfect reverse swing. Wasim will remember that unique spell all his life."
    A Test where the Ws are not only a lethal bowling combination but also a match-winning batting partnership. Akram takes two in the first innings, and Waqar Younis five to bowl England out for 255, but the batsmen manage only a 38-run lead. In the second innings, Akram is the more destructive bowling parter, taking the last three out for no run. Yet, chasing 138, Pakistan are 62 for 5 when Akram walks out, and soon it becomes 95 for 8. England, brought down by injuries to Ian Botham and Phil DeFreitas, needed an over from Akram or Waqar; what they got was both of them batting for the other side. Each ball revealed unseen good sense and even technique from Akram, and after two hours of resistance came the shot of a proper batsman, the cover-drive on one knee to win the Test.
    A game billed as The Showdown Test became, instead, a perfect showcase for the awesome fast-bowling talents of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. Unaccustomed to reverse-swing, England would go on to make ball-tampering allegations against these destructive and sudden spells. England are 40 minutes into the final session, on 182 for three, when Akram starts and finishes the demolition with a thrilling spell of 5 for 18 in 7.1 overs. In the second innings, he lets Waqar take the front seat, but finishes the match off with a spell of three wickets for one run.
    This is no irresistible sudden demolition job, it takes perseverance and patience on a true surface where Pakistan's batsmen score 548 for 5 declared. On the first morning of the Test, though, Akram sets the agenda, taking the first wicket before a run is scored and helping bowl New Zealand out for 175. About his seven-for in the second innings, Wisden writes, "In conditions far from favourable for him, Wasim Akram improved on his best Test figures for the second game running, with seven for 119. This time he was not terrifying or suddenly devastating, but persevering and continually testing; he collected his 20th wicket of the series and his second match award."
    Thanks to some ill-advised shots from the top order, in reply to Zimbabwe's 375, Pakistan are facing embarrassment at 183 for 6 in Sheikhupura. Akram gets his head down and plays with the sort of application few think him capable of. During his innings of eight hours 10 minutes, he gives one chance, on 145. When the ball is flighted or overpitched, he drive powerfully and cleanly. Most of his 12 sixes, a record, go over the straight boundaries, 71 metres away. Akram's stand of 313 with Saqlain Mushtaq is the highest for the eighth wicket in Tests, and what looks likely to be a sizeable deficit is transformed into a lead of 178. Bad light on the fourth evening and rain the fifth morning cost Pakistan victory.
    Pakistan are deserving World Series victors at the sixth attempt, but they need Akram to be at his unpredictable best in the second final. Pakistan bat and make just 165, but Akram has a different story to tell. He starts off with three wides, then makes Sherwin Campbell tread on his stumps next ball. From that point, he is all over the West Indians like a wasp, taking out Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Carl Hooper to end up with figures of 7-2-17-2.
    The damaging Justice Qayyum report has been published on the eve of the match, and it is also generally believed Akram is finished as a bowler. Not on the evidence of this Test, though. After Pakistan have been bowled out for 273, West Indies are headed for a big lead through a 134-run fourth-wicket stand. But Akram six wickets for four runs in 28 balls limit their advantage to a negligible four runs. Defending 215, his five-for, which takes him to his best match-haul, reduces West Indies to 197 for 9, but a combination of superb batting from Jimmy Adams, a few contentions decisions, and a few ordinary fielding efforts, let West Indies win by one wicket.