Akhtar Mudassar-1702316361575
Shoaib Akhtar speaks to former Pakistan opener Mudassar Nazar after UAE's win against Sri Lanka in Dubai on Monday. Image Credit: A.K.S. Satish/Gulf News

Dubai: The victorious UAE Under-19 team’s celebrations got a cherry on the cake when Pakistan former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar visited them and gave them a pep talk on their approach to the game at the highest level.

The UAE, after a thrilling two-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup Under-19 at the ICC Academy on Monday, had a surprise visitor in Akhtar, who spent some quality time extolling some of the virtues of the game to the young colts.

“Keep going. Each one of you have the potential to go forward and represent your country in the senior level. What makes you better than anybody else is the attitude. Once you get the attitude right, work hard on it and be the nicest guy off the field. Be the nice guy on the field too, but not when the ball is in your hand, don’t be a nice guy. Make sure you bowl fast and intimidate the opponent,” the 48-year-pacer told the UAE players on the sidelines, watched by his coach and former Pakistan opener Mudassar Nazar.

The UAE have been on the fast lane after winning the 2022 Under-19 World Cup Plate final under skipper Alishan Sharufu. The UAE, Seniors and Under-19, have since beaten West Indies, Afghanistan, New Zealand and now Sri Lanka.

Long spells

Akhtar, known as the Rawalpindi Express, has produced some intimidating spells, including a 100mph delivery during the 2003 World Cup against England at Newlands. What is important is that he could bowl long spells of sheer pace, which is not the case more often in current international cricket, where the emphasis is on shorter spells.

Akhtar, who came from the traditional format of bowling long spells, had a word of caution to the aspiring fast bowlers.

“Don’t be a four-over fast bowler. Be a 10-over fast bowler, 20-over fast bowler, one who could bowl all through the day. Some of the nicest guys are some of the best players in world cricket, like Wasim Akram, Babar Azam and Virat Kohli, are nice guys on and off the field,” he concluded.