‘Shoaib Akhtar and I looked at that Indian team and said to each other ‘how will we get them out’’: Mohammad Asif recalls Karachi Test 2006

Former Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Asif looked back at the 2006 Karachi Test against India, revealing how he and former teammate Shoaib Akhtar were worried realising the batting strength of the opposition. India had toured Pakistan for three Tests and seven ODIs in January-February of 2006, and heading into the third Test at Karachi, the series was levelled at 0-0 with the first two matches in Lahore and Faisalabad ending in a draw.

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Asif, playing only this third Test, picked up seven wickets in the match to help Pakistan hammer India by 341 runs. It was a team that boasted the Fab Five of Indian cricket – Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman.

“No doubt it was a great feeling. It was such a batting-heavy team. I remember when Shoaib bhai and I looked at the team sheet, he was like ‘who all are we going to get out’. At No 7 or 8 was Dhoni,” Asif told Kamran Akmal on the latter’s YouTube channel.

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“We looked at the line up and we said ‘how are we going to get them out’. Because I think all these players across formats would have combined to score a lakh or 1.5 lakh runs between them. Everyone had at least 15-20K runs.”

The Karachi Test holds a special place in the annals of Pakistan cricket and some of their greatest wins. Batting first, Pakistan were reduced to 0/3 with former India quick Irfan Pathan claiming a hat-trick in the first over of the match. Yet, Pakistan ended up scoring 245 in the first innings courtesy a counter-attacking century from Akmal at No. 8. Asif wrecked the Indian batting claiming 4/78 in the first innings and 3/48 in the second. The former fast bowler credited Akhtar, saying he set the match up for Asif to take charge of things.

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“Shoaib bhai I remember had bowled to the Indian batsmen with a lot of pace. He had started bowling those deadly bouncers, full of pace from Faisalabad itself,” Asif recalled. “And I took advantage of it. Because of his bouncers, Indian players were playing on the backfoot and since I pitched the ball forward, they were in two minds. He was extremely quick in that match. He couldn’t get wickets but he set the stage for my wickets.”

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