Karachi: Express Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar will not play in next month's tri- series in Morocco because of fitness problems, the national team's manager said on Saturday.
"Akhtar told us that he is feeling weakness in legs and fatigue. He needs rest and will not be joining the camp, ruling himself out of the tri-series in Morocco," Yawar Saeed told reporters. Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka feature in the tri-series from August 12 to 21 at Tangiers, Morocco, cricket's newest venue. The 26-year-old Akhtar, dubbed the 'Rawalpindi Express', became the first bowler to unofficially cross the 100-mile an hour barrier in a One-day International against New Zealand in Lahore in May this year. He took seven wickets, including five for 25 at Brisbane, to play a pivotal role in Pakistan's 2-1 win over Australia in the Super Challenge Series in Australia last month. Saeed denied reports that Akhtar's absence was a protest action by him over some players' skipping the tours and earning more money by playing county cricket in England. "He (Akhtar) never said that and never asked any permission for county or league cricket," Saeed said. The colourful pacer missed a large part of cricket in 2000 and last year due to injury and because his action was reported as illegal on three occasions. He was cleared once by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and twice by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Akhtar's elder brother, Shahid Akhtar, told reporters that his brother needed a rest. "He (Akhtar) felt tired so he is resting in England." A final squad of 15, from an original group of 19 selected, is likely to be announced by next week.