SRINAGAR: Liam Plunkett, a British cricketer has relived the moments when he faced former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar for the first time. He said the experience was “frightening” as the balls came well over with a speed well over of 90 kms an hour.
Plunkett and Akhter were teammates at Durham in County Cricket.
“Frightening stuff… in county cricket, I was first-change to Shoaib and Harmy. I was at slip for Harmy and leg-slip for Shoaib. I faced Shoaib Akhtar in my first-ever Test match,” Plunkett was quoted saying while speaking to The Broken Podcast as per Wisden. “Because I played with Durham before that, I was marking my run up before the Test and he just smiled and said ‘I’m gonna kill you’ and laughed.”
The encounter took place in 2005 in Lahore where Plunkett team had gone visiting for a Test series.
With a Kashmiri willow in hand, Plunkett faced two balls from spinner Danish Kaneria and the next over belonged to Akhtar.
“I remember it like it was yesterday because I had my bat, at that time – you think (now) these bats are so thick and stuff – but it was Kashmir willow, it was real thin,” Plunkett has said. “And I was sat ready to bat, I was next in, and the TV screen’s right there, so you can see it’s like 96, 97, 96 (miles per hour). Ashley Giles’ stumps get taken out, and I walk out to a guy who’s bowling 90 mile an hour.”
Despite him initially being a bit scared of Akhtar, Plunkett (9 off 51) did relatively well for a tail-ender in that hostile environment before finally getting dismissed by Mohammad Sami.
“I remember the first one, it looked like I played it well. You duck and you turn and you can see it travel to the keeper and the keeper catches it. I got my first medal of honour, he hit me on the shoulder. I pretty much s*** my pants at that point,” he said. “He’s just such a big solid bloke, he’s got massive tree trunk legs, and he just steams in, and you’re like, ‘every ball’s got serious intent here’.
“I think I was like nine off 60 balls, but I managed to do a decent job. My first Test, that was a serious challenge, and batting at No.9, to be able to put up a partnership, get seven or eight but face 60 balls, I was pretty happy with it,” the England fast bowler remembers.