Skipper Malik backs Akhtar to fire in Champions Trophy

July 20th, 2008 - 4:17 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Shoaib Akhtar
K. Hussain
Karachi, July 20 (IANS) Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik is anticipating that his comeback pacer Shoaib Akhtar will regain full fitness ahead of September’s Champions Trophy. Malik said Sunday that Shoaib’s expected return to the Pakistan team is good news for the country pointing out that the Rawalpindi Express is a match-winning bowler.

“Shoaib is a great fast bowler and has won many a match for Pakistan in the past,” Malik said at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore where he and fellow team mates had assembled to give urine samples for dope tests.

“Shoaib has some fitness issues but we are all hopeful that he will overcome them in time to bowl in the Champions Trophy at full throttle.”

Malik said that he was confident that Shoaib’s return will boost his team.

The Pakistan skipper said that his players were improving their fitness in the lead up to the Champions Trophy.

Malik pointed out that Pakistan will use next month’s one-day series against New Zealand on home soil to warm up for the Champions Trophy.

“The series against New Zealand will help us to get ready for the Champions Trophy. I believe it will be a great opportunity for us to get in the rhythm.”

Pakistan’s last international outing - the Asia Cup - was a disaster as they failed to reach the final of the six-nation contest on their home ground to the disappointment of home fans.

But Malik said that his team will wash away those tears by giving a better showing in the Champions Trophy. “Asia Cup was a disappointment for all of us but it is behind us now,” said Malik. “We are now focused on the Champions Trophy and are confident of producing better results in it.”

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