India and Pakistan have always been the most captivating rivals in the history of cricket. The two cross-border teams have seen the rise of many legendary players who have garnered fans from across the globe. Here are 10 Pakistani cricketers whose significant fan following in India has gone down in the books of sporting history. These ten cricketers have shown tremendous skills, given jaw-dropping performances, and are loved by their Indian fans despite the rivalry between the two countries.
1. Wasim Akram
The legendary left-arm fast bowler from Pakistan is quite popular across the border. He owes his popularity to his charismatic persona on the field and on television. In the 90s, it was tough for an Indian cricket fan to admire Wasim Akram when he was at the peak of success and used his skills way too often to break Indian batting and win matches for Pakistan. But once the bowler hung up his boots, Indians were in awe of his accomplishments. Post-retirement, Wasim Akram has seen his popularity grow even more in India. The 50-year-old is now a very regular figure on Indian television.
2. Shoaib Akhtar
The Pakistani fast bowler widely known as the 'Rawalpindi Express,' has a substantial following in India because of his wonders with the ball in hand. Shoaib Akhtar too has become a hit with Indian fans post his retirement when he took to commentary and match analysis and was an instant hit with his Punjabi accent and rather off-beat, frank views.
3. Imran Khan
The 1992 World Cup-winning Pakistani captain has acquired huge admiration amongst Indian fans. Former cricketer turned politician has always been a crowd puller with his good looks and top-notch on-field performance. Imran Khan had been the talk of the Bollywood town during his youth and had always been in the media limelight due to surrounding controversies and smashing sixers. The dashing all-rounder used his cricketing fame to enter politics which worked very well for him to earn a huge fan following.
4. Shoaib Malik
The all-rounder from Pakistan married Indian tennis star Sania Mirza in 2010 and has been to India quite a few times. The right-hander has a special connection to India because of his marital ties. Playing against India brings the best out of the cricket star. The 41-year-old was also the captain of the Pakistani cricket team when India won the 2007 T20 World Cup against them.
5. Shahid Afridi
Shahid Afridi is another Pakistani all-rounder who is a much-loved figure in India. Afridi caught worldwide attention because his aggressive batting and leg-spin bowling made him a household name in India. This trait of dynamic playstyle became a part of daily news headlines in India and Pakistan. The less-known nickname ‘Boom Boom’ was also coined by Indian commentator Ravi Shastri for Shahid Afridi.
The star batsman has been one of the most prominent and successful batters in the Pakistan cricket team during his playing career, which lasted almost two decades, from the early 1990s to the mid-2000s. Inzamam displayed skillful batting and a unique style that resonated with many fans in India and earned him media attention too. The right-handed batsman had a great on and off-field persona that earned him the admiration of his fans in India.
7. Hasan Ali
The Pakistani fast bowler garnered the attention of Indian fans with his impressive performances with distinctive wicket-taking ability for the Pakistan cricket team. He grabbed the limelight with his enthusiastic celebrations and his role in Pakistan's success in various high-profile matches. Hasan Ali's presence on social media handles has also contributed to his popularity among fans in India.
8. Younis Khan
Younis Khan has held many records and achievements during his cricket days. Amongst all his feats the most coveted one is of being Pakistan's highest run-scorer in Test cricket. This feat of his has led to acknowledgment and appreciation from cricket fans in India. Khan, now a leading Pakistani cricket coach is regarded as one of the greatest middle-order batsmen worldwide. His sportsmanship and dedication towards cricket have earned him many Indian fans.
The former Pakistani cricketer and captain has earned quite a name in cricket. His calm and composed personality on and off the field made him a loved cricketer in India and Pakistan. Misbah has been a great asset to his nation and has made remarkable contributions to world cricket with his leadership and cricketing skills. The right-handed batsman earned popularity, particularly for his performances against India in various matches. His iconic helicopter shot during the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 final against India further added a feather to his cap and earned him fans in India and worldwide.
10. Waqar Younis
The right-arm fast bowler from Pakistan caught public attention because of his exceptional fast bowling skills. This unique skill earned him the nickname ‘Toe Crusher’. After he retired from international cricket, Younis remained involved in cricket through commentary and coaching. The 51-year-old's match analysis as a commentator is now popular among his Indian fans. His signature reverse swing deliveries particularly made headlines making him a star player.