IPL 2022: Akhtar recalls KKR debut, says former captain Sourav Ganguly told head coach that ‘Shoaib is always unfit’
Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar has narrated a story dating back to 2008 when the first ever edition of the Indian Premier League took place. Akhtar was picked by Kolkata Knight Riders, the IPL franchise which was captained by Sourav Ganguly and coached by Johan Buchanan. Akhtar, in a revelation, has said that ahead of his IPL debut, Buchanan wasn’t sure if the pacer was match-fit to take part in the game and shared Ganguly’s opinion in the matter.
“I was serving a ban when I joined the KKR camp and hadn’t played matches. John Buchanan told Sourav Ganguly that he doesn’t think I am fit enough. To which Ganguly replied that he has always been unfit. Don’t worry about him. It will be okay even if he’s half unfit,” Akhtar told SportsKeeda.
Shoaib had to wait for eight matches before getting a heads-up, and during KKR’s game against Delhi Capitals (formerly Delhi Daredevils) at the Eden Gardens, the ex-Pakistan pacer made an immediate mark picking up 4/11, bowling them out for 110 and helping his team pick up a 23-run win. Opening the bowling, Akhtar bowled three overs and dismissed the DC opening pair of Virender Sehwag and AB de Villiers, and followed it with the wickets of Manoj Tiwary and Gautam Gambhir.
Akhtar was named Player of the Match and received a golden-knight helmet from the franchise’s owner Shahrukh Khan. Akhtar, who was KKR’s first-pick at the inaugural IPL auction, getting picked by the franchise for ₹3.2 crore, played three IPL matches in 2008 and picked up five wickets – he dismissed Sachin Tendulkar from Mumbai Indians in the KKR vs MI game. That was the only season that Akhtar participated in the IPL as due to political tensions between India and Pakistan, cricketers from across the border were banned from playing in the Indian Premier League.