Both the seamers played a great role in India’s success in the 2000s culminating in victory in the 2011 World Cup. Khan was the joint-leading wicket-taker in the World Cup – 21 scalps along with Shahid Afridi.
Shoaib Malik, who made his international debut in 1999, featured in plenty of games against India. He scored 1782 runs against the Men in Blue in ODIs at an average of 46.89.
However, as the batsman himself acknowledges, he had troubles while coming up against Khan and Nehra, as both the left-arm pacers, adept in moving the ball sideways, challenged both his bat’s edges. In fact, Zaheer had dismissed the right-hander 6 times in ODIs.
“Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra targeted the edges of the bat. Hence, they took many wickets against Pakistan. If a bowler targets the edge, he will be more successful,” Shoaib Malik said in an interview with Cricwick.
My ability to play the in-swinging deliveries helped me do well against Irfan: Shoaib Malik
Although Shoaib Malik had difficulties against Khan and Nehra, he dominated another left-arm pacer in Irfan Pathan. Against Pathan, he averaged 90 in ODIs. Shoaib Malik puts his success against Pathan down to his ability to play inswingers well, as by then the bowler hadn’t developed the outswingers and the angle across delivery as Nehra and Zaheer had done.
“I feel my ability to play the in-swinging deliveries helped me do well against Irfan. My average against Irfan Pathan is good because I play the inswing well. At that time, Irfan did not bowl out-swingers. He added it to his arsenal later, but early in his career, he majorly bowled in-swinging deliveries. So, I knew he would bowl an in-swinger, and I prepared myself accordingly,” the 39-year-old stated.