Shoaib Akhtar’s expected return to the Pakistan team was delayed on Tuesday after he failed to find a flight to South Africa in time for the first Test match but the speedster says he is not disappointed.
“It is great to be back and even though I was looking forward to the opening Test, I’m not really disappointed at missing it because there would be two more matches to go in the series against South Africa,” said Shoaib, while talking to ‘The News’ on Tuesday.
Shoaib was recalled to the Test squad on Monday after being initially snubbed by the national selectors on fitness grounds.
Pakistan are to begin their Test campaign against South Africa with the first Test at Centurion on Thursday and were desperate to have Shoaib in their ranks after medium-pacer Umar Gul suffered an ankle injury.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials tried to rush him to South Africa on Monday but in spite of hectic efforts they were unable to get him a flight for Johannesburg. The pacer is now expected to leave either today or tomorrow and would be available for selection for the second Test starting from January 19 in Port Elizabeth.
Shoaib, 31, said he is itching to bowl again and would work hard to return with a bang in the second Test.
“I’m fit and raring to go,” said Shoaib, who last played a Test almost a year ago against India in Karachi.
Since then he has been out of the Test arena either due to injury or suspension and is still under the threat of a doping scandal.
Shoaib was banned for two years last November after testing positive for nandrolone, a performance-enhancing drug, but was later cleared after filing a successful appeal against the punishment.
However, the case has been sent to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which has challenged the decision to clear Shoaib and another Pakistani fast bowler, Mohammad Asif, of doping charges.
Shoaib, however, believes he considers the case is closed. “I have been cleared by a competent committee and do not believe I’m under any kind of threat. I don’t even think about it anymore,” said Shoaib.
Though he tried to be diplomatic, the outspoken Shoaib expressed himself on several issues including his uneasy relationship with captain Inzamam-ul-Haq.
“I believe as captain Inzamam should be more supportive of his team-mates especially if they are going through a rough time,” said Shoaib indirectly referring to Inzamam’s alleged role in getting him dropped from a 17-member squad that was sent to South Africa earlier this month.
Shoaib was ignored on the grounds that he lacked match fitness though there was a whispering campaign in the national cricket circles that suggested that he was dropped on the insistence of Inzamam.
“As a captain, it is Inzamam’s responsibility to keep the players united,” he added.
Shoaib said that he has a lot of fire in his belly and was looking forward to a good showing in South Africa and later in the World Cup in the West Indies in March-April.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Wednesday, January 10th, 2007 and is filed under General.
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