18 years ago today pace legend Shoaib Akhtar became the first bowler in cricket history to break the 100 mph barrier during an ODI match against New Zealand in Lahore.
The moment came on April 27, 2002, in the third and final ODI of a three-match series which Pakistan had already won by winning the first two matches. Craig McMillan faced the thunderbolt from the Rawalpindi Express which was clocked at 100.04 mph or 161 kph – the fastest ever in an international match.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) did not recognise the feat as the speed gun used for the match lacked a standardised measuring tool and also it was supplied by a sponsor.
The refusal led to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) releasing a statement, which said: “According to the speed gun operated in the ground by a sponsor, Shoaib Akhtar bowled a delivery at a speed off 161 kph during the 3rd ODI between Pakistan and New Zealand at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore.”
But a year later, Akhtar would remove any doubt and become the official holder of cricket’s fastest delivery across formats. And he chose the ODI World Cup stage to repeat the feat.
Against England at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town, Akhtar’s sixth delivery of the 5th over to Nick Night was clocked at 161.3 kph or 100.2 mph – an improvement over what he had managed the preceding year.
The delivery completed a maiden over bowled at England’s Nick Knight in what was the fastest recorded over in history. Shoaib’s second over recorded speeds of 153.3 kph, 158.4 kph, 158.5 kph, 157.4 kph, 159.5 kph, 161.3 kph with an average of 158.06 kph.