Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar achieved tremendous success over the course of his career across formats. However, the one title that any cricketer who plays for his country craves is the ICC World Cup and the 46-year-old fell agonizingly short of winning it in 1999.
Pakistan lost just one group game, against India, that entire tournament heading into the final at Lord’s against Australia. However, their batting couldn’t step up on the big day as they suffered a defeat to end their near-perfect World Cup campaign.
Playing at the iconic Lord’s ground is a special occasion for any cricketer. However, Shoaib Akhtar explained to Sportskeeda that it always hurts him whenever he goes to that venue because of the heartbreak he suffered. He said:
“That bitter memory is still with me till date. It gives me nightmares. I still believe my inner core is left at Lord’s. Every time I went to Lord’s, I was never happy. Because I knew we lost the final here, we could have taken the victory lap.”
“Some of of me left there, for good. I love that ground, the people, the atmosphere, but a painful part of my body is still standing there.”
In terms of talent, Pakistan were ahead of anyone else: Shoaib Akhtar
Shoaib Akhtar claimed that Pakistan’s 1999 World Cup team was the most talented in the world at the time. They had all departments covered with world-class players like Wasim Akram, Azhar Mahmood, Abdul Razzaq, Saqlain Mushtaq and Akhtar himself. He stated:
“We had cruised through to the final of the 1999 World Cup. No disrespect to anyone, but when you compare talent to talent, Pakistan was way ahead of anyone else. We had dominated the opposition except in the two games that we lost. One we lost to India and the other we lost in the final.”
Akhtar also came close to winning the 2011 World Cup, but Pakistan were knocked out in the semifinals by eventual champions India.