Happy Birthday Shoaib Akhtar! A Look At the 5 Greatest Spells By the ‘Rawalpindi Express’
Shoaib Akhtar (Photo Credits: File Image)

Former Pakistan Speedster, Shoaib Akhtar turns 44 on Tuesday. Born on August 13, 1975, the right-arm-pacer is regarded as one of the most fearsome bowlers to have played the game. Known as Rawalpindi Express, the bowler was gifted with lightning-fast speed. His deliveries have also injured many batsmen, forcing them to leave the field. The veteran used to follow the nose and toes policy as the pacer looked to disturb the batsman with a bouncer and then rattle the stumps with a toe-crushing Yorker. Shoaib Akhtar Reveals ‘Sad Secret’ About Pakistan’s Loss in 2003 World Cup Against India (Watch Video).

In the encounter against England in the 2003 World Cup, the veteran bowled a delivery that clocked 161.3kmph and is the fastest delivery bowled in international cricket to date. Akhtar has bowled some rattling spells in international cricket and was also the mainstay of the Pakistan bowling line up. The Pakistani quick made his international debut against West Indies in  November 1999. The former featured in 46 Tests, 163 ODIs and 15 T20Is in which the bowler claimed 178, 247 and 19 wickets respectively. So, On the occasion of the pacer’s 44th birthday, let’s take a look at Akhtar’s five best bowling spells in international cricket. Shoaib Akhtar Slams Mohammad Amir’s Decision to Retire From Test Cricket, Watch Video.

5/43 against South Africa, Durban

Shoaib Akhtar quickly rose through the ranks in international cricket. In the second test of Pakistan’s 1998 tour of South Africa, the speedster went through the star-studded Proteas batting line-up and claimed five wickets in the second innings of the match. Akhtar’s spell restricted the hosts to 231 runs in the first innings and the visitors later won the match by 29 runs.

5/48 against New Zealand, Wellington

The speedster again proved his mettle in the second test of Pakistan’s 2003 tour of New Zealand. The right-arm pacer rattled the New Zealand batting line-up in the first innings and his five-wicket haul restricted the Kiwis to 366 runs in the first innings. Akhtar’s effort proved to be crucial in the context of the game as Pakistan won the match by 7 wickets.

5/71 against England, Lahore

The Rawalpindi Express was at his premium best in England’s 2005 tour of Pakistan. In the third test of the series, the pacer was almost unplayable for the English batsman and castled the opposition with his blistering spell. Akhtar took five items in the third innings and thanks to his spell, Pakistan had the upper hand in the encounter by an innings and 100 runs.

5/16 against New Zealand, Auckland

In the first ODI of Pakistan’s 2001 tour of New Zealand, The veteran made full use of the swinging condition of Auckland and went through New Zealand's batting line-up. The bowler dominated the Kiwi batsmen throughout the match and his five-wicket haul restricted the hosts to just 149 runs in the first innings and later, Pakistan won the match by six wickets.

5/25 against Australia, Brisbane

In the third ODI of Pakistan's 2002 tour of Australia, Shoaib Akhtar hurried the mighty Australian batting line up with his pace and bounce. The right-arm quick bowled like thunder and took five wickets of the men in yellow. Courtesy Akhtar’s spell, the hosts were bundled out for 165 runs and the men in green won the match by 91 runs.

So, these were some stellar bowling performance by the Pakistani quick in international cricket. The former hung up his boots after the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup and many batsmen around the world got a breather. Even after the retirement, the 44-year-old manages to create the buzz off-field with his controversial statements. Pakistan have always produced great fast bowlers and the nation’s young prodigies like Shaheen Afridi and Muhammad Hasnain will want to put their hands up and fill the boots of Shoaib Akhtar