Shoaib in the twilight of his international career

April 28th, 2009 - 4:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Shoaib Akhtar Karachi, April 28 (IANS) Exactly eight years after hurling the fastest delivery in cricket’s history, Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar finds himself in the twilight of his international career.
Shoaib Monday celebrated the eighth anniversary of the ‘fastest ball’ on the sidelines of his team’s third one-dayer against Australia in Abu Dhabi.

It was on April 27, 2002 that Shoaib inscribed his name on the cricket record books by hurling a delivery that was measured at 161 kmph in a One-dayer against New Zealand. It was officially recognized as the fastest delivery ever bowled.

Eight years on, Shoaib has lost that sting and now bowls around 145-kmph - if he plays.

The controversial player made yet another comeback earlier this month when he was named in a 15-member squad for the One-day series against Australia in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

It was yet another remarkable return from the injury-prone pacer, who was out of the Pakistan team after flopping miserably in the two first two ODIs against Sri Lanka in January this year.

Shoaib, 33, was also overlooked for the Test series against Sri Lanka in Feb-March and it seemed that his international career was over when it was revealed that he would need a surgery on his injured knee.

But just weeks later, Shoaib resurfaced and declared himself fully fit without even undergoing any operation. He later cleared a series of fitness tests and was inducted in the touring party in spite of bitter criticism from various experts.

Shoaib was unable to impress much in the first two ODIs in Dubai where he failed to pick a single wicket and was later dropped from the third game of the series.

Several former Pakistan cricketers have asked Shoaib to quit playing international cricket. Zaheer Abbas, a former Pakistan captain, told IANS that Shoaib is now a spent force and should be axed from the national team if he does not retire.

However, Rashid Latif - another former Pakistan captain - advised Shoaib to focus on his fitness.

“Shoaib can still be an asset for Pakistan cricket, he just needs to improve his fitness,” said Rashid.

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