Akhtar, Kaneria our trump cards: Malik


New Delhi : Skipper Shoaib Malik said here Wednesday that pace spearhead Shoaib Akhtar and leg-spinner Danish Kaneria would be Pakistan’s trump cards in the Test series against India beginning Thursday.

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“His (Akhtar’s) fitness has improved. He has played in four matches (one-day internationals) and at no time did it look that he was not fit. His fitness has improved much,” Malik told reporters after unveiling the trophy that the two teams will fight for.

“He will definitely be our trump card, and we also have Danish,” the Pakistani captain said in his typically understated manner.

Malik said that if Pakistan have to win the three-match series, Akhtar and Kaneria would have to perform to the best of their abilities.

He said that while fast bowler Mohammad Asif would miss the series due to an injury, experienced pacer Mohammad Sami, who has replaced him, would make up for his absence. “His (Sami’s) presence would provide strength to our bowling attack,” he said.

Asked if India would be at a disadvantage without pacers Sreesanth and Rudra Pratap Singh, who have been ruled of the match with injuries, Malik pointed out that Munaf Patel would fill in the void.

“You also have pacer Zaheer Khan. Apart from him, (captain) Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh and Murali Kartik make up the spin department,” he said, implying that India’s bowling was one to reckon with.

“With so many quality bowlers in the ranks, India have a good attack,” he said, adding that Kaneria could still be quite handy.

Malik, who was appointed captain recently after Younis Khan declined to accept the responsibility after Inzamam-ul-Haq’s retirement, has a lot of pressure not to become the first captain to lose a series in India since 1979. Pakistan have not lost a Test series in India since the 1979 tour when Asif Iqbal’s side went down 0-2.