File photo of Shoaib Akhtar© YouTube

England will play their first Test match in Pakistan in 17 years when the first Test of a three-match series begins in Rawalpindi on Thursday. Under Ben Stokes and former New Zealand great McCullum, England have remodelled their game – winning six of their last seven Tests at home playing what has been dubbed “Bazball” after the coach’s nickname. That came after a dismal sequence of just one win in 17 Tests – including a 4-0 humiliation in the Ashes in Australia – resulting in head coach Chris Silverwood being sacked and Stokes taking over as skipper from Joe Root.

But low and slow pitches in Pakistan – where England last played a Test in 2005 – pose a different challenge for England. That series was a memorable one for Pakistan pace great Shoaib Akhtar. He picked 17 wickets back then.

Recalling the series, Akhtar told The Guardian in an interview: “I was on the edge of my sofa wondering whether I was going to be selected for the series or not. Once I was, then my main motivation was Freddie Flintoff.”

Flintoff had poked fun at the speedster after facing in the 2005 ICC Super Series. “looked like Tarzan but bowled like Jane,” Flintoff had said then. Shoaib was determined to give a fitting reply to the star allrounder. “I got Freddie on my radar and I just started bowling bouncers. He was uncomfortable, I got him out and said to him: ‘How do I look Mr Flintoff, like Tarzan or Jane?’

“He said: ‘Forgive me Shoaib. You are two different people in a span of three weeks. You were unfit and down in the mouth and now you are totally different. What happened?’ I said: ‘A lot of painkillers and even more heart.'”

In the current series, England will play three Tests in Rawalpindi, Multan and Karachi.

With AFP inputs

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