Fitness key to success for pacers at WC: Akram

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Adelaide, Feb 10 (IANS) Former Pakistan pace bowling legend Wasim Akram Tuesday urged fast bowlers playing in the World Cup starting Saturday to work on their fitness if they want to achieve success.

In a column written for the International Cricket Council (ICC) website, Akram stated that pacemen from the sub-continent need to be extra fit for the 43-day event to adjust to the pitches in Australia and New Zealand.

“International cricket is all about how you prepare. Keep yourself fit, put in the hard work and practice well. I am not trying to create any fear, but the World Cup will be a big challenge for the bowlers, especially those from the sub-continent,” Akram, an integral member of the 1992 World Cup-winning side, said.

“They need to be extra fit to cope up with the pitches in Australia and by that I mean that they will need to have a strong back.”

In the 1992 edition of the tournament with the same co-hosts as this year, a young and pacy Akram created havoc in the English ranks in the final. He picked up figures of three for 49 and also pocketed the Man-of-the-Match award at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Imran Khan-led Pakistan won the final by 22 runs.

Citing his own example, he said he was successful in such conditions because of his fitness. He said Aqib Javed and spinner Mushtaq Ahmed supported him well.

“I ended up with 18 wickets and that was all due to my hard work on my fitness. Not for a day did I feel tired and the motivation Imran Khan gave us all was incredible,” Akram, who led the green brigade in the 1996 and 1999 World Cup, said.

“Those two magical deliveries in the final at MCG were the essence of my World Cup success. I bowled them with a plan and that was executed so well that I was over the moon.”

The 48-year-old also advised the bowlers that their length will be the key in deceiving the batsmen, specially a line that would draw the batsmen “on the front foot and get the edge”.

“The bowlers need to bowl just short of a good length and also vary their pace which has become the main weapon for bowlers in limited-overs cricket. It’s all about rhythm and angles,” Akram said.

“When the bowlers reach the point of delivery, they need to try to snap their wrist and that is something they can generally only learn gradually. Since back foot batsmen do well on Australia pitches, try to draw them on the front foot and get the edge.”

Akram is considered one of the finest swing bowlers in world cricket. He took 502 wickets from 356 matches before retiring after the 2003 World Cup. He also has 414 wickets from 104 Tests, making him one of the most impactful bowlers the world has ever seen.

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