ICL: Indian Cricket League

Inzamam wants practice matches to test Shoaib Akhtar


ShoaibPakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq on Tuesday recommended a few practice matches during the preparatory camp for this summer’s tour of England saying that such outings would help in the comeback of star fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar and prove his fitness.

Inzamam believed Shoaib was still just 70-80 percent fit and a few practice games during the national training camp could prove beneficial for the pacer whom he rates as Pakistan’s trump card for the series against England.

“Shoaib has been out for the team for some time and is now trying to regain full fitness. But such things take some time and a lot of effort,” said Inzamam, who flew out of the city for Jeddah where he would be leading a Pakistan XI against an Asian XI in two exhibition matches later this week.

Inzamam said that it was up to the national selectors to decide whether they wanted to go for any practice games before announcing the final 16 for the English sojourn.

The skipper said that he wants Shoaib to regain peak fitness ahead of the tour of England which he termed as a very important assignment.

“The tour of England is also very important for us because a good performance there would boost our morale ahead of (next year’s) World Cup,” he said adding that Pakistan would need a pacer of Shoaib’s calibre bowling at full throttle in England.

Shoaib is currently working on regaining match fitness after recovering from injured knees. He underwent a twin knee surgery in February. Inzamam refrained to speak on the controversy hovering over the central contract system. He said that the players’ contracts would come up for a review next month and he believes the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) would deal with the issue in a fair manner.

The seasoned batsman hoped that his team’s brief tour of Saudi Arabia would help provide a boost to the sport in a region that has millions of Pakistani and Indian expatriates.

Several stars from Pakistan and India along with players from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh would feature in the two exhibition matches to be played at Jeddahís Al-Ahli stadium on May 25 and 26.

The event’s organisers are expecting a full house on both days because of the fact that cricket is a huge passion for most of the expatriate population of Saudi Arabia.

The Pakistani squad has several top notch players including national team vice-captain Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Abdul Razzaq, Danish Kaneria, Mohammad Sami and Imran Farhat.

The Asian XI has five Indian players and four each from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Indian batting star Venkatsai Laxman would lead the side that also has compatriot Ajay Jadeja, who has served a five-year ban for match-fixing. Former Test player Roshan Mahanama, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Kumar Dharmasena and Dilhara Fernando are the prominent Sri Lankans in the team.

Inzamam said that he expects some exciting action during the two matches in Jeddah because both sides have the services of a number of capable players.

Source:The News

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