On this day in 2002: Shoaib Akhtar breaches the 100-mph barrier against New Zealand – Firstcricket News, Firstpost


Pakistan cricket legend Shoaib Akhtar is widely remembered for setting the ball on fire on a 22-yard pitch. Exactly 20 years earlier, he became the first fast bowler to break the 100 mph barrier in the history of international cricket during an ODI match against New Zealand in Lahore on 27 April 2002.

The Rawalpindi Express, the name given to the fast bowler by Tony Greig, broke the three-figure mark for the first time during the final ODI of the three-match series against New Zealand at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

Pakistan won the series by winning the first two games. Akhtar turned out to be a nightmare for the Kiwi batsmen as he was delivering ball to ball with a speed of over 99 mph. The fastest came during the third ODI when New Zealand batsman Craig McMillan was facing the thunderbolt.

File image of former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar. AFP

Pakistan set a target of 279 runs for the Kiwi team. As the chase began, Akhtar and Waqar Younis began their spell with the new ball. While Younis was diligent with his line and length, Akhtar was testing the batsmen with some blistering deliveries.

McMillan thought he had already encountered the worst delivery which was topping out at 99.3 mph (159 kph). But it was just a warm-up for the speedster. He began his iconic run-up and delivered a blazing beauty with all his might to clock a top speed of 100.04 mph (161 kph).

New Zealand were bowled out for 212 as Pakistan secured an easy 66-run victory and wiped out the visitors. While Akhtar could not take any wickets, he remained tight-lipped in his opening spell of 23 runs in 4 overs.

Later, the International Cricket Council (ICC) refused to consider the achievement. According to the ICC, the speed gun used during the match in Lahore lacked a standardized measuring device. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) made an official statement that the speedometer was provided by a sponsor.

It didn’t take long for Akhtar to officially achieve the feat at the grand stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2003. During a group league match against England at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town, Akhtar bowled the fastest ball at 100.2 mph or 161.3 kmph. It was recorded as the fastest delivery ever in the history of world cricket.

Other legendary pacers like Australia’s Brett Lee and Shaun Tait came close to the feat but ultimately could not break Akhtar’s long-standing feat.

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