Shoaib toughens up for international cricket

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Shoaib Akhtar will use Pakistan's relatively light international schedule over the coming months to "invest time in himself" and come back fitter and tougher than before.

Shoaib, who has played only a handful of ODIs and a solitary day of Test cricket in the last year, missed Pakistan's brief World Cup campaign and will not be travelling for the forthcoming ODI series against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi either. But he will, he says, make full use of the gap.
Looking leaner and fitter than he has recently, Shoaib told Cricinfo.

"I'm fit. I never said I was unfit. I had a knee injury before the World Cup but
I just need a little bit more time to get fitter and get myself sorted out
properly once and for all."

In his absence for the Abu Dhabi series, Pakistan have had the opportunity to trial fast bowlers hurtling about the domestic scene for some time now at the ongoing preparatory camp in Lahore. Abdul Rauf and Mohammad Irshad may get a chance in the series and there might even be a return for Mohammad Khalil.

"This is the right time to invest some time in myself and let the youngsters go out there and show something that they can do,"Shoaib said.

"It'll be nice to see some youngsters come through, do well for the country.
It's a healthy sign."

He will be back though, ahead of a tough international season for Pakistan, beginning with a home series against South Africa.

"I'll be back by September. I am bowling already and have been training at the
academy. I am doing everything as per normal. I am not unfit but just need more
time to toughen up and can't wait to get back."

Shoaib's name appeared only peripherally in the talk of captaincy candidates recently and, as it turns out, it is the way he preferred it.

"Captaincy and all these things do not matter to me. You have probably seen it
now that a lot of other people are interested in being captain. I never said I
wanted to be because right now I want to focus on just serving the team and my

And for the incumbent Shoaib Malik, there are cheery words. "He's like a brother to me. I met him recently. We had a good chat and hopefully I passed on whatever advice I could. I am one the seniors now and will offer him any help and advice on the field that he needs.

"I'm not one of those guys who creates problems. I never have and I never will.
He will be fully supported and we will help him to win because ultimately that
is what matters."

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Will Pakistan Premier League gain success just like Indian Premier League ?