Pakistan coach Waqar Younis says fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar is still a shadow of himself and must prove he can be consistent after his three-wicket performance against Sri Lanka on his return to international cricket.
In spite of being 34, Akhtar showed on Tuesday that he retains his customary long run up and much of his pace during the Asia Cup opener against Sri Lanka a Rangiri Dambulla Stadium.
Waqar says Akhtar’s match figures 3-41 should only be the start and that he must consistently perform well to prove himself.
“Still he’s got a long way to go. He has picked up three wickets which is good for us but I think he’s not there where we want to see him,” Waqar told reporters after Tuesday’s match.
“He’s not the old Shoaib Akhtar we really want him to be,” he added.
Shoaib Akhtar’s selection for the Asia Cup is seen as his last chance to prove himself ahead of a possible call up for next year’s World Cup on the subcontinent and leave a mark in the game, something he has failed to do until now despite his talent.
The defeat in the first match of the Asia Cup adds to the pressure on Pakistan ahead of their high-profile clash against India on Sunday, but Waqar remained optimistic of reaching the finals.
“We are still not out of the tournament, if we win against India we are back in business,” Waqar said. “After a long time, we will be playing against India, which is good to see.”
As with the batting, Pakistan’s bowlers didn’t finish off the job after reaching a strong position. “I think the way we got them down to 160-odd for 7 and then let them off the hook to reach 242,” he said. “We should have done a lot better in the field, we gave away a few too many runs.”
Pakistan’s cause was also not helped by their cumbersome start to the chase, with debutants Umar Amin and Shahzaib Hasan struggling against the Sri Lankan new-ball attack.
Waqar, however, was confident they would fare better in the matches coming up. “We are in a re-building process, we brought three youngsters in on the tour, and we are looking to bring in some more for the next England tour,” he said.
“We’ve got to give them a chance, it’s tough out there, but that’s how you play top cricket, it was their first game, few nerves around.”
The Pakistan batting wears a new look because of the absence of middle-order stalwarts, Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf, and the decision to push regular opener Kamran Akmal down the order made the top-order lighter on experience.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Thursday, June 17th, 2010 and is filed under Cricket, General.
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