Shoaib gets a chance to prove willow power

Published: Thursday, June 3, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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lslamabad:For a change, Shoaib Akhtar will not charge down the pitch for bowling his missile-like deliveries but pad up for batting for his County team Durham in two One-day games.

Shoaib, who took a match-winning 4 for 15 in a One-day league match against Derbyshire on Monday, has been asked to play as a specialist batsman in their next two One-day cricket games, reported local daily The News.

"I will not be bowling at all in these two One-day games. I will play as a batsman. They wanted me to rest but I was very keen to play so they said - 'okay you don't bowl but you play as a batsman'. I look at this new role as a real challenge," Shoaib told the daily.

The speedster, the only fast bowler of the modern era to have twice broken the 100 mph speed barrier in international cricket, said he would be playing as a batsman in a Twenty-20 match followed by a league One-day game against Scotland on June 6.

The bowler said he has been advised by County doctors to follow a proper rehabilitation programme to ensure he does not suffer from a recurrence of his rib cage stress fracture injury.

Shoaib, ironically, had landed himself in trouble because of his batting exploits in the second innings of the third and final Test against India in Rawalpindi. Although Shoaib said he was injured seriously enough not to bowl in the Indian innings after taking a fall on the second day of the Test, he came out to bat on the fourth day and thrilled the crowd with a breezy knock of 28 from 14 balls.

Even in previous instances Shoaib has shown he is no slouch with the bat featuring in many valuable partnerships in Test and One-day cricket. His blazing innings against England in a lost cause in the World Cup match at the Centurion in 2003 is a case in point.

Even since joining Durham this season, Shoaib has been in form with the bat as well, helping them win against Somerset with his efforts.

Shoaib said he was getting fantastic treatment from Durham who were looking after him very well.

"Two doctors and a physiotherapist are attached with me and are working constantly on my injury and my fitness to ensure I am fit and don't face injury problems."

Shoaib said he had been told to rest for five days before the next Twenty-20 match and the June 6 One-dayer.

"I will then have another rest period before playing a four day match," the 28-year old said adding there were lot of misconceptions about him that he wanted to clear as soon as possible.

"I want to let the people of Pakistan know that I have never played with less than 100 per cent commitment for my team."

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