Shoaib Akhtar all set to play in England one-dayers
Maverick speedster Shoaib Akhtar is all set to make his Pakistan return with the one-day series against England later this month, a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official said on Saturday.
Abbas zaidi, Director of Board Operations, told reporters that the good showing from pacers Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul and Shahid Nazir in the fourth Test against England pose no problem for a Shoaib Akhtar comeback in the ODI contest.
“With the sort of pace he has, Shoaib remains our key strike bowler and now that he is fit, there is no way he is going to sit out (in the one-dayers),” said Zaidi.
Shoaib, 30, has been out of the Pakistan team since playing the Karachi Test against India this January because of multiple injury problems. Having been declared fit earlier this month, Shoaib was expected to make his comeback in The Oval Test but the Pakistan team management decided against fielding him in the match.
Asif, who like Shoaib missed the best part of the tour because of fitness problems, was recalled and took four wickets in the England first innings. Young medium pacer Umar Gul also picked up a quartet of victims while Shahid Nazir also bowled impressively, a showing that led to a whispering campaign here that the tour management might stick with them in the one-dayers as well.
But zaidi said that Shoaib should not face any problems in getting back his place in the Pakistan squad. “One-dayers are a different ball game altogether. Unlike in the Tests when you need your strike bowlers to bowl extensively, in an ODI you just need ten overs. I must sure Shoaib would easily be able to bowl those ten.”
According to Zaidi, one of the biggest reasons why Shoaib would be in the one-day squad is the speed of the ‘Rawalpindi Express’. “His fast pace unsettles the batsmen and that can be very useful.”
Apart from the PCB, Shoaib also got a word of support from former Pakistan captain Rameez Raja who said the tourists cannot afford to ignore the pace ace for the one-day series. “You just cannot afford to ignore a pacer who bowls at over 90mph,” Rameez told ‘The News’.
Rameez agreed that Shoaib would find it difficult to make a successful international comeback after a long layoff due to injury but added that the bowler would find his rhythm within a span of a few matches. “Shoaib is a match winner and I would have him in my team,” he said.
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