Arguably the greatest left-arm pacer to play the game, Wasim Akram's cricket career was marked by numerous controversies. Among the biggest ones was his non-appearance in the 1996 World Cup quarterfinal against India. Surprisingly, Wasim Akram decided against playing the high-profile contest against India 45 minutes before the start of play leaving many in his country perplexed. After 26 years, the former Pakistan captain lifted the lid on his controversial move, disclosing that it wasn't a dubious act as projected by the media. He pulled out of the game against India because he wasn't fit to play.

“I got injured during the game against New Zealand. I got 34 runs. I went for a sweep shot, the fine leg was up, and I got my muscle pulled. That takes six weeks (to recover). The reason hamne press ko nahi bataaya, ki India ko confidence naa mile ki inka main player nahi khel raha (The reason we didn't tell the press was because India would have gained confidence if they knew I wasn't playing),” Wasim Akram said.

“Knowing the cricket in the 90s, there was hardly any trust, in a way. You see, coming to the 96 World Cup quarterfinal, 11 players were winning the game till the 15th over, second innings. Suddenly, they lost wickets and the blame came on me. I still can't get over it. What were the 11 people doing there who were chasing 270-odd, being 124/0 (113/2) in 15 overs?” Wasim Akram asked.

“How did that news came out? Who spread that news? Think about it.”

Pakistan's highest wicket-taker further disclosed that while his haters want him to retire from the sport at the time, the whole controversy instead made him more eager to defy his critics.

“I'm a stubborn person. If somebody pushes me the wrong way, I'll make sure I stand. I didn't want my cricket to finish. I wanted to play cricket for Pakistan while certain people didn't want me to play. That actually motivated me to play cricket,” Wasim Akram signed off.

Meanwhile, in his recently released autobiography, Sultan: A Memoir, Wasim Akram made never-heard-before revelations about his struggles with cocaine addiction post-retirement.

“In England, somebody at a party said ‘you wanna try it?’ I was retired, I said ‘yeah’. Then one line became a gram. I came back to Pakistan. Nobody knew what it was but it was available. I realised, I couldn’t function without it, which means I couldn’t socialise without it. It got worse and worse. My kids were young. I was hurting my late wife a lot. We would have arguments. She said I need help. She said there’s a rehab, you can go there. I said alright I will go there for a month but they kept me there for two and a half months against my will. Apparently, that is illegal in the world but not in Pakistan. That didn’t help me. When I came out, a rebellion came into me. It’s my money, I stayed in that horrible place against my will,” Wasim Akram said in The Grade Cricketer podcast.

“In western movies, even in Australia you see rehabs have lovely big lawns, people give lectures, you go to gym. But I went to a place (in Pakistan) with a corridor and eight rooms, that’s it. It was very very tough. It was a horrible time,” he added.

“Then a tragedy happened, my wife passed away. I knew I was on the wrong path, I wanted to get out of it. I had two young boys. In Western culture, a dad is involved fifty-fifty (with the mother). You wake up in the morning, drop your child to the school, pick them up, and change clothes. In our culture, as a dad, we never do that. It’s the wife’s turn. Our job is to go out and raise funds. I was lost for two years. I never knew where I had to buy clothes for them. I didn’t know what they ate, I had to go to every class, and attend parent-teacher meetings. I had to be friendly with their friends’ parents. But I must say, every parent around my kids helped a lot.”

“Then I moved to Karachi as my in-laws were there, stayed at a one-room apartment, and found a new school for the kids. After three-four years, my current wife, whom I met in Melbourne, took over but those two or three years in between were very tough,” the Pakistan great elaborated.

“My advice to the young generation is to choose your company carefully. If your company is like that then you are bound to go the wrong way and very few manage to come out of that path. Make sure your friends have a good work ethic,” Wasim Akram concluded.