IPL 2008 was the only Indian Premier League season featuring cricketers from Pakistan. The Rawalpindi Express Shoaib Akhtar turned up for the Kolkata Knight Riders team that season. He did a decent job for the team as he picked up a four-wicket haul on his debut against the Delhi Daredevils.
However, the then Kolkata Knight Riders head coach John Buchanan was hesitant to pick Shoaib Akhtar in the playing XI due to his fitness. Sourav Ganguly, who was the KKR skipper in IPL 2008, convinced the head coach to pick Akhtar by saying it is fine even if he is half unfit.
Shoaib Akhtar justified the confidence that Sourav Ganguly showed in him as he broke the back of the Delhi Daredevils bowling lineup and helped the Kolkata Knight Riders register a memorable victory.
“John Buchanan told Sourav Ganguly that he doesn’t think I am fit enough. To which Ganguly replied that he has always been unfit. Don’t worry about him. It will be okay even if he’s half unfit,” said Shoaib Akhtar during his appearance on Sportskeeda’s show Time Out.
Aakash Chopra requested that I be careful not to break his ribs in IPL 2008: Shoaib Akhtar
During the same show, Shoaib Akhtar recalled how his Kolkata Knight Riders teammate Aakash Chopra requested him not to jump on him while celebrating because he could have broken his ribs. Here’s what Akhtar said:
“I was charged up after taking a wicket and had grabbed Aakash Chopra by the collar to pull him closer. He then requested that I be careful not to break his ribs.”
Because of the ban on Pakistan players, Shoaib Akhtar never got another chance to play in the Indian Premier League. The Pakistani stars now play in their country’s own league titled the Pakistan Super League. Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ramiz Raja has big plans in store for the 2023 edition of the PSL as he aims to take it to the level of the Indian Premier League.