Shoaib Akhtar bowled the fastest recorded ball in the history of cricket in the World Cup match at Newlands. The last ball of his second over was recorded at 161.3km/h or 100.2mph and betters his previous mark of 161.0km/h which he recorded on 27th of April 2002.

Over the past ten months, that particular ball has come under constant criticism in the media as individuals cast aspersions on the equipment in use then. But this time there can be no denying that Shoaib is the fastest bowler in recorded history, the fastest bowler in the world and the first bowler to officially break 100 miles-per-hour.

The 161.3km/h ball completed a maiden over bowled at Nick Knight of England and no doubt this over rates as the fastest in recorded history. Shoaib's second over recorded speeds of 153.3km/h, 158.4km/h, 158.5km/h, 157.4km/h, 159.5km/h, 161.3km/h and had an astonishing average of 158.06km/h. These phenomenal speeds can only really be put into perspective when compared with Shoaib's nearest rival in the `pace race', Australia's Brett Lee.

Lee's fastest ever deliveries were recorded in Australia's first match of the World Cup in which Shoaib also played. Lee's first over produced speeds of 147.8km/h, 151.8km/h, 158.1km/h, 154.1km/h, 152.9km/h, 153.0km/h, 157.8km/h with an average of 153.64km/h. His fastest ball was 158.1km/h and at the time it was the fastest speed ever recorded by BBG Sports (formerly IDS). BBG Sports is an Australian-based company which is fulfilling the contract to record bowling speeds at the 2003 World Cup.

Shoaib previously recorded 161.0km/h in April last year but the unusual circumstances surrounding the event left most people dismissing the speed as an error.

At the end of 2002, Shoaib also confirmed his standing as the fastest bowler in the world with speeds of 160.0km/h on November 16th and 159.8km/h on December 1st. Both matches were against Zimbabwe.

After a brief absence from the game, Shoaib has returned for the World Cup notably more muscular and is using his new-found power to produce unheralded pace. Over Pakistan's first three matches, Shoaib has produced fastest balls of 153.1km/h, 159.1km/h and now 161.3km/h.

In an interview during the break in innings, Shoaib said, "I wanted to do it. I said that before the match to my coach and manager that I was going to do it in my second over."

In an action reminiscent of Jeff Thomson, Shoaib positioned his bowling arm further back towards his buttocks as he `wound up' prior to the 100 miles-per-hour delivery.

When quizzed on this change in action he said, "When I take my arm back there, I gain more power. It's a different action and then I just bowled quicker.

"When I saw the 158 (km/h), I said, okay this is the time, just cross the barrier, finish it for the rest of my life".