‘Shoaib Akhtar is history’

January 23rd, 2009 - 6:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Shoaib AkhtarKarachi, Jan 23 (IANS) Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar’s Pakistan career is over, a leading Pakistani newspaper reported Friday. Quoting unnamed officials in the national cricket team and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), The News reported that the under-performing Akhtar will be axed from the national squad for good.

“Shoaib Akhtar is finished. He is history,” a team official, who requested anonymity, told the newspaper. According to the official, the current ODI series against Sri Lanka was Shoaib’s last chance to prove his form and fitness.

“He (Shoaib) promised a lot but failed to deliver. It’s quite obvious that he is past his prime and it’s time that we should overlook him to blood some youngsters in the side.”

According to the report, when skipper Shoaib Malik launched a scathing attack on his under-performing fast bowler in Karachi there wasn’t anything whimsical about it.

Malik had the complete backing of the team officials as well as a few senior players and came with a lot of ammunition against Akhtar following an embarrassing 129-run defeat against Sri Lanka in the second One-day International.

Akhtar, 33, has not been in Malik’s good books for quite some time because of several reasons and the young captain made full use of what was a perfect opportunity to blast the erratic fast bowler.

“The commitment which I need from him (Akhtar) in the field is not there,” Malik told reporters. “You need 11 players to lift a team,” Malik said. “He (Akhtar) needs to bowl 10 overs with the same speed and then I also want him to field for 50 overs.”

Akhtar returned to the one-day squad after almost 14 months, having last played in an ODI in Gwalior in November 2007 against India. He had claimed time and against that he is fully fit for national duty after playing in a series of domestic games this season.

Spearheading a four-man pace attack, Akhtar bagged just one wicket in the two one-dayers against Sri Lanka, giving away 88 runs from 13 overs - bowling seven overs in the first match and six in the second. Akhtar, who has 178 Test and 220 one-day wickets, returned to the Pakistan squad for a Twenty20 quadrangular in Canada last October but looked quite rusty in the brief assignment.

He was then retained for a three-match ODI series against the West Indies last November in Abu Dhabi but missed all three games after injuring himself during a training session.

“Shoaib Akhtar was placed under the magnifying glass since making his return last year,” a senior PCB official was quoted as saying in the report. “He was given ample opportunity to prove his form and fitness because most people believe that when at his best he is an asset for Pakistan. Unfortunately, it’s quite clear now that he isn’t.”

Pakistan is scheduled to take on Sri Lanka in the final one-dayer in Lahore on Jan 24 (tomorrow). The host team won the series opener in Karachi on Jan 20 by eight wickets but was thrashed by 129 runs in the next game by the visitors.

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