WATCH: Mohammed Shami will thrive under "bowlers' captain" Virat Kohli, says Shoaib Akhtar
Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar's admiration for speedsters across the world is a secret to none. Akhtar, who was regarded as one of the fiercest bowlers during his playing days, has always been vocal about captains in modern-day cricket using their speedsters in the right way. The Rawalpindi express was left mighty impressed by Indian pacer Mohammed Shami's stellar effort with the red cherry in India's emphatic 203-run win over South Africa in the first Test in Vizag. He lauded Shami terming him the "king of reverse swing."
Akhtar revealed how a disheartened Shami had called him post India's exit from the 2019 World Cup after an 18-run loss in the first semi-final against New Zealand. Shami was not picked in the playing XI for the must-win encounter and had to watch India go down from the sidelines. In a video on his YouTube channel, Akhtar said he had then advised Shami to focus on the home season and try to keep his fitness levels intact.
"After India's (50-over) World Cup disappointment, Shami called me up one day and said he was feeling sad that he could not do well for India. I told him not to lose heart but maintain fitness. I told him that the home series is coming and you will do well," said Akhtar.
Shami was at his lethal best on the final day of the Vizag Test - where he ran through the South African batting line-up picking up a five-wicket haul to inspire India to a big win. Chasing a huge target of 395 runs in the 4th innings, South Africa were always under pressure and Shami used his pace and straight seam to trouble the visitors, finishing with excellent figures of 5/35 in his 10.5 overs, which included four bowled dismissals.
Akhtar said he had adviced Shami to use his reverse swing well, a skill which is rare in subcontinent pacers but is the 29-year-old's forte. The pace great also insisted that Indian captain Virat Kohli is a bowlers' captain and enjoys when the fast bowlers are taking wickets for him, adding that Shami will thrive under a skipper like Kohli.
"I told Shami that I want him to become a tearaway pacer, running through batting line-ups. He has seam and swing, besides that he has reverse swing which very few bowlers in the subcontinent have. I told him you can become king of reverse swing. Now, you see what he has done, he has got wickets from a docile pitch (in Visakhapatnam). I am very happy for him," said Akhtar.
"Under Virat Kohli, Shami is going to thrive. I told Shami that Kohli is a bowlers' captain who enjoys captaincy and gives full freedom to his bowlers," he added.