Karachi: Pace ace Shoaib Akhtar is back to full fitness in an ominous sign for New Zealand and England, who will host Pakistan in the new year. Akhtar said on Thursday he was bowling at full speed again after seven months out of the game due to injury. "I have been bowling in the nets for a week now and have found no problem. It looks like a rebirth for me," Akhtar told AFP.Tagged the "Rawalpindi Express" for his thunderbolts, Akhtar has not played international cricket since May due to problems with his ribs, knees and shoulders."I have missed a lot of cricket but the new year will definitely bring some good cricket for me. I look forward to the New Zealand and England tours next year and will now try to maintain my fitness." Akhtar has clocked 99 miles (158.4 kilometers) per hour, close to the world bowling record of 99.6 miles per hour set by Australian firebrand Jeff Thomson in the 1970s. He is currently under the care of Tauseef Ahmed, a nutritionist and phsyical trainer, who says Akhtar is "totally reconstructed. We have rectified all his problems and he can play anytime from now. He is a much better athlete now," Ahmed said. "Akhtar has broken two stumps with his deliveries in the nets and by that you can judge he is bowling at his fastest again. We have six weeks before the New Zealand tour and in that time he will shape up to his best." Ahmed said Akhtar had resisted pressure to change his action. "He told me that many people suggested that he should change his action but we have put him where he belongs and his action is the same."Pakistan leave for New Zealand in the second week of February to play three Tests and five One-day Internationals. They then play two Tests in England and a triangular series with world champions Australia.
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Copyright AFP 2000