Pakistan all set to axe under-performing Akhtar

By Omar Khalid, IANS,

Karachi : Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar is all set to be dropped from the Pakistan squad after he flopped miserably in the first two one-dayers of the ongoing one-day series against Sri Lanka.

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A source in the Pakistan camp told IANS that the team management has decided to replace Shoaib with another bowler in the playing line-up for the series finale to be played in Lahore Jan 24. He is also unlikely to be considered for a two-Test series against Sri Lanka lined up for next month.

According to the source, the team management will decide whether to induct young pacer Sohail Khan or spinner Saeed Ajmal in the playing eleven after taking a look at the Gaddafi Stadium wicket in Lahore.

Shoaib, 33, failed to impress on his ODI comeback, finishing wicketless in the first match and then taking 1-45 in six overs. He appeared to be far from fit and his lack of form had raised questions over his selection in the Pakistan squad.

The pacer’s performance drew flak from Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik who accused him of showing lack of commitment on the field.

“If you look at his performances and record and matches he has won, there is no question over his effectiveness,” he said. “But the question is over 100 percent fitness. Cricket has changed and if you aren’t 100 percent fit then it is difficult.

“Everyone can see what is out there. The ability to bowl ten overs is there but the commitment in fielding that I want wasn’t there.”

Shoaib, who has taken 178 Test wickets from 46 matches besides picking up 220 victims from 140 One-day Internationals, was selected in the elite A-category of the central contracts by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

The team management was confident that he would return to form against Sri Lanka after giving a good showing in domestic matches in recent weeks. But now his future in the Pakistan team looks bleak.

Former Pakistan Test cricketers Thursday came out with various suggestions for the Rawalpindi Express.

Former Pakistan captain Zaheer Abbas told IANS said that Shoaib should know himself whether he has any future in international cricket.

“Shoaib knows better what his body is going through,” said Zaheer, who was recently selected at the second place in the all-time ODI batsmen’s list issued by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

“It’s true that he is slow on the field, everybody can see that. Shoaib will have to sit down and decide whether he wants to carry on. If he does, then he should get fit,”he said.

Former Pakistan pacer Waqar Younis advised Shoaib to give up his Test career to concentrate on one-dayers.

“Because of his fitness level it will be difficult for him to sustain pressure in a five-day match,” Waqar said in an interview.

“Till a couple of years back he was really ‘fast and furious’. He has become a bit slimmer and wants to play at international level but my advice to him is to play only one-day cricket and take a break from Test cricket,” opined Waqar.