South Africa have produced their fair share of world-class fast bowlers over the years, but AB de Villiers reckons no one matches up to Pakistan great Wasim Akram. He called Akram a one of a kind bowler whose swing skills are unmatched on the current global stage.
De Villiers, who was watching coverage of the Australia-Bangladesh game on Monday, saw a television insert featuring Akram during a rain delay and tweeted: "Amazing footage on Skysports2! @wasimakramlivewas one seriously talented bowler. Crazy skill!"
Asked before South Africa's game against Pakistan at Edgbaston whether he thinks anyone in the current Pakistan squad could match Akram, de Villiers took his answer one step further and said no one in world cricket does.
"I haven't seen a bowler as good," de Villiers said. "It was just nice to watch the programme, and I felt that I needed to just get it out there. I get along with him [Akram] well. He's at Kolkata with the IPL every year, and we always have nice chats. And to actually get a bit of insight in the programme on how he used to bowl and what he was thinking while he was bowling is really nice. He has obviously shared all of that with a lot of players in the past, not only with Pakistan players but a lot of players at the IPL. But that's something you're born with. It's a natural skill that he was born with."
Akram's IPL influence may have extended to one of de Villiers' men. Morne Morkel was a member of the Kolkata squad until the most recent season when he opted to sit out of the event, and has since shown an increased ability to bowl reverse-swing. In the absence of Dale Steyn, who has suffered from a shoulder injury for much of the last two years, Morkel has provided South Africa with a key skill, especially in Test cricket. Against India in Nagpur in 2015 and against New Zealand in Dunedin earlier this year, Morkel moved the ball significantly.
The second of those performances was on Morkel's comeback after nine months on the sidelines with a back problem. He has since also been recalled to the ODI squad and played in South Africa's opening match against Sri Lanka, where he bowled first change. His six overs cost 31 runs and came at a time when Sri Lanka were batting well. Morkel did his bit to pull them back.
Still, that does not guarantee Morkel will feature in the rest of the tournament, especially after coach Russell Domingo made it clear that South Africa might opt for an allrounder, depending on conditions and the balance of the XI. Which way they will go against Pakistan on Wednesday it not yet known. By 1pm on Tuesday, South Africa had not seen the pitch which remained under covers.
Rather than be perturbed by the possibility of having to leave plans to the last minute, de Villiers was markedly unconcerned. He said he considers South Africa under "no pressure," despite losing to Pakistan in the last global event - the World Cup in 2015. "We don't feel any pressure. We are confident going into this game, without being arrogant or overconfident. We feel it's an opportunity, once again in this tournament to shift the pressure onto all the opposition we might face."
This, carpe diem-like approach, has been the theme of the South African campaign. Both JP Duminy and Wayne Parnell have spoken of "staying in the moment," something de Villiers admitted has become something of a mantra.
"It's just an awareness of not thinking of the past or the future, as simple as that. If we live in the past, there's lots of scars that we can think of, lots of bad experiences. Some good ones, as well. The future, it's something we can't control as of yet. So it's just wise to try and stay in the moment with what you're confronted with," he said. "It's just a little saying that I feel is quite powerful for us to focus on the very next ball and not - well, not the very next ball, but the one that you're actually dealing with at that moment and not trying to think of how you're going to finish your over or the few boundaries you just went for. Every bowler has the opportunity to influence the game, and that's the idea behind it."
And none of them, according to de Villiers, have influenced it as much as Wasim Akram.