ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Great Moments

Need for speed

How a top-edged six made Shoaib a star

Dileep Premachandran

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Shoaib Akhtar steamed in and picked up an early wicket, but couldn't inspire Pakistan to defend a meagre total, England v Pakistan, 2nd T20I, Cardiff, September 7, 2010
Shoaib delivered some real thunderbolts to announce himself on the world stage © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Sherwin Campbell | Shoaib Akhtar
Series/Tournaments: ICC World Cup

After injury and alleged indiscipline had stalled some of his early progress, Shoaib Akhtar had announced his arrival as a fast bowler of some menace in a Test match against India at the Eden Gardens. Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar were among his victims that day, and there was an anticipatory buzz as he strode to the top of his run-up on his World Cup debut, against West Indies. Pakistan had made 229 and needed an early breakthrough or two to win their opening game.

While some expected a searing yorker first up, Shoaib opted for the other extreme, a bouncer so quick that Sherwin Campbell barely saw it. He was belatedly into the hook, but the ball had hurried on so quickly that it took the top edge. As his team-mates and an awestruck crowd watched, the ball soared over third man for six. Instead of any celebratory antics, Campbell looked like a man who'd just found himself on the railway track, with an onrushing locomotive just yards away.

Boundary view
"Akhtar is the show-stopper", said the red-topped Sun, while the Daily Express joined in with "Shoaib speed gives Akram the armoury". The fact that he was the most expensive bowler with 2 for 54 from 9.5 overs barely mattered.

What happened next
Campbell didn't stay around long enough to enjoy his good fortune. In Shoaib's next over, another express delivery cannoned into the top of middle stump, even as Campbell was trying to being the bat down. And though Australia demolished them in the final, Pakistan had unearthed one of the stars of the competition.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to MyIndia.com followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and total-cricket.com. Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.

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