KARACHI - From Eden Gardens to Centurion, Shoaib Akhtar has had many memorable on-field battles with Sachin Tendulkar and he feels that M Aamir and Virat Kohli’s face-offs will also go down the cricket history as some of the epic duels.

“It used to be a challenge bowling to Sachin and I think the future battles between Virat and Amir will be as exciting as our on-field rivalry. The two are world class performers and when they are pitted against each other, it can’t get better than that,” Akhtar told PTI during an interaction.

“Virat is India’s best batsman and Aamir’s inclusion has made Pakistan’s attack far superior. Whenever these two will be up against each other, it’s going to be fun,” he said,

Akhtar is proud that Aamir’s redemption looks like complete and it bolsters Pakistan cricket. “Let bygones be bygones. It feels good that world’s best fast bowler is back where he belongs. It fills my heart with joy to see Amir run in and bowl those brilliant deliveries. I feel relieved seeing him on the cricket field.”

“It’s just that we need to be a bit more aggressive in our bowling department. Amir would need support from the other end and Wahab needs to step up,” 40-year-old Akhtar seemed happy talking about Pakistan’s bowling future.

However he couldn’t stop praising Kohli for his matured knock and termed him the best batsman of his era.

“Kohli is certainly the best batsman of his era. His match-finishing skills are exemplary. If you ask me whether he could be compared to Javed Miandad, who was also an exceptional finisher, I would say that two eras should not be compared. Yesterday, the manner in which he played Virat showed, why he is in a different league. Also like a true champion, he praised Amir’s bowling which was a good thing,” Akhtar was effusive in his praise.

He termed Pakistan bowling better than India’s but the once fearsome fast bowler did mention that Jasprit Bumrah has been a welcome addition to the Indian squad.

“Bumrah has been a great addition to the Indian bowling unit. He is a very talented youngster who should be nurtured. The best part about Bumrah’s bowling which personally impressed me is his control. He has a lot of control while bowling at the death. Also the fact he can effortlessly bowl yorkers is a great added boost for the Indian team. The Indian bowling unit has now become better compared to earlier times. Both Bumrah and Nehra have been contributing brilliantly getting early wickets in the Powerplay overs,” Akhtar observed.

He feels that India is certainly the favourites for World T20 but says the players need to remain fit and agile before the marquee tournament begins. “Winning Asia Cup is important but one needs to keep all the players fit. The kind of carry that Mirpur strip provides can’t be the case on the Indian pitches. Those will be slower and fast bowlers will require to put in more effort,” he concluded.

Waqar Younis praises Aamir: Pakistan coach Waqar Younis has termed M Aamir's performance against India as "outstanding" but at the same time said his sufferings in the last five years after being convicted for spot-fixing has been his own fault for which no one should feel bad.

"It was his own fault and one shouldn't cry on that. He (Aamir) is definitely world class and is getting better and stronger with every match. Even Virat Kohli has acknowledged that he is world class. He is an inspiration for young fast bowlers. Today the length at which he especially bowled and swung the ball at that pace was simply outstanding," Waqar said about the 'Enfant Terrible' of Pakistan cricket.

Even Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni conceded that Aamir's length was the key. "It was a great spell by Aamir. His advantage was he bowled full. In this Pakistan team, Amir and M Sami are the two bowlers who bowl a fuller length while the other two (Irfan and Wahab Riaz) don't bowl too full and also don't swing much. But with the quota of only four overs, the captain is also under so much pressure," Dhoni said.

Both Waqar and Dhoni were asked about how situations have reversed from 80's and 90's when Pakistan used to be favourites to now when India are considered to be way ahead. Both in their own way conceded that Pakistan teams of the bygone era, were better while India now have a more compact side.

"Credit should be given to India. They have some compact batsmen but we also have some fine fast bowlers who can get any team out in any conditions," Waqar said.

Dhoni for one gave an elaborate explanation about how Pakistan had more multi-dimensional unorthodox players in the 80's and 90's with some quality fast bowlers who could use reverse swing.

"You have to see the era of players. You can compare Pakistan teams of 90s and before that with Indian teams. I am not saying we were bad but Pakistan had those all-rounders, they had bowlers, who could bowl quick and talent to reverse, that put used to pressure on our batsmen. In 90's, they also had good batsmen, they had strong side, backed by talented players, who were not very orthodox," Dhoni said. "Often we say it's a match between their bowlers versus our batsmen but our bowlers have also improved."