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‘Sheer class’ – Afridi names Lara as his toughest opponent

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Shahid Afridi has named Brian Lara as the toughest batsman he has ever had to bowl at in an interview with Wisden Cricket Monthly.

The pair 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.”

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