Shoaib Akhter defends himself after series loss

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Shoaib Akhtar has defended himself from critical comments cast by Imran Khan after Pakistan's 1-0 Test series defeat to India.

Imran, former Pakistan captain, told an Indian news channel that the result could easily have been 3-0 if their spearhead had applied himself. But Shoaib felt the absence of Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul, out with elbow and back injuries respectively, seriously hampered their chances.

"Imran Khan, who is a man and former player I admire and respect greatly, singled me out in his television analysis and said I should be disappointed with myself,"

he said on Bigstarcricket.com.

"I realise he was being kind in saying I am a match-winner, but I can't win Test matches on my own."

Though he completed a rare full Test series, Shoaib battled fitness and injury in all three Tests, ending with nine wickets at 33.11. And there was little else to speak of in the pace department, bar replacement Yasir Arafat's five-wicket haul on debut in the final Test. Mohammad Sami, Shoaib's new-ball partner, went wicketless in the first two matches.

"When I built up pressure we weren't able to maintain that pressure on the Indian batsmen. I'm not blaming my team-mates - if Sami had been around with me, Asif and Gul the series would definitely have turned out differently. We cannot expect too much from the inexperienced guys at this level. It stands to reason that any team is going to miss players like Umar Gul and Mohammad Asif."

"Imran had players like [Abdul] Qadir and Wasim [Akram] to back him up or Sarfraz before those days."

Akhtar, 32, took six wickets in Delhi and two in Kolkata, where he ill-advisedly played with a chest infection. Then, having bowled ten overs on the first morning at Bangalore, he was taken to hospital for an MRI scan after suffering back pain. The scan revealed no injury but Shoaib did not bowl again in the first innings. He bowled later in the match but did not look fully fit.

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