Former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi has termed batting legend West Indian Brian Lara as the toughest batsman to bowl in his career and has said that he was sort of ‘scared’ whenever he bowled to him.
Scared in a sense that Lara had that much of effect on his mental setup that Afridi would think that he would hit him for four next ball.
Afridi has revealed this in an interview with Pakistan sports journalist Saj Sadiq for Wisden Cricket Monthly.
The duo only faced off twice in Test cricket, in 2005, when Lara was coming towards the end of his career, but the elegant left-hander was able to have quite the impact. Pakistan and West Indies drew the series 1-1, with Lara making a century in each Test, the first of which came at better than a run a ball.
The former Pakistan all-rounder said that while he was able to have some success against the legendary West Indian, the “effect” the batsman had on him with his attacking mindset made him a particular challenge to bowl at.
“That would have to be Brian Lara,” Afridi told Saj Sadiq when asked to name the toughest opponent he faced during his career. “I got him out a few times but whenever I was bowling to him I always had the feeling in the back of my mind that he is going to hit me for four the next ball. He had an effect on me. I never bowled with any confidence to him.”
It wasn’t just Afridi who struggled against Lara. Even the legendary off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, the man who took more Test wickets than any other, found himself come in for punishment. In a famous series between Sri Lanka and West Indies in 2001/02, Lara made 688 runs in three Tests, including a double century and two centuries, even as his side were beaten 3-0.
“He was a world-class batsman who dominated the best spinners he came up against, even the likes of Muttiah Muralitharan in Sri Lanka,” said Afridi. “His footwork against spinners was brilliant and the way he batted against such bowlers was a wonderful sight. He was sheer class.”