Question mark over Shoaib~~s trip to India

Published: Monday, January 31, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Islamabad:Frequent injury breakdowns and questionable off-field conduct could come in way of selection of trouble-prone 'Rawalpindi Express' for the cricket tour of India starting next month.

Shoaib Akhtar, currently in news for his hamstring injury and alleged nightouts in Australia, has once again rubbed the cricket establishment the wrong way, said a report in local daily The News on Monday.

The speedster, who had to return home midway from the Australian tour because of the injury, should consider himself lucky if he makes it to the touring squad for the next month's high-profile tour of India, it said.

"The circumstances in which Shoaib has returned home do not augur well for him. Another breakdown due to fitness problems, his failure to come through in Australia as a match winner and question marks over his personal conduct are all issues which are presently being looked at seriously by the authority in the context of the Indian tour," the report quoted a Pakistan Cricket Board source as saying.

Skipper Inzamam-ul Haq, coach Bob Woolmer and manager Haroon Rasheed have already conveyed their "negative feelings" about the fast bowler's form and conduct to PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan.

"They have narrated several instances where Shoaib had insisted on doing his own thing and not going along with the team policy. For example he chose to drive to the practice sessions when the others walked it to the ground," the source said.

"There is every possibility that with Mohammad Sami and Shabbir Ahmed expected to be fit for the Indian tour, Inzamam (if he stays on as captain) and Woolmer might not push for Shoaib's selection for the Indian tour," the source said.

Although Shaharyar had publicly tried to defend Shoaib's conduct in Australia concerning his alleged visits to nightclubs during the matches, yet privately he was neither happy with his behaviour nor with his role as a team man. Shoaib did not help his 'reputation' of not lasting out any full series by bowling just 15 overs in the third Test at Sydney and struggling with a hamstring strain.

He limped off after sending down just 2.5 overs in a tri-series game against the West Indies at Brisbane after which the decision to cut his tour short was taken.

Shoaib's tour of Australia took a turn for the worse when a section of media splashed his photographs, believed to have taken during the third Test, partying at a nightclub and bar.

The Sydney Herald kickstarted this controversy by carrying a story about how the Pakistani bowler was seen at some nightspots during the third Test when he was said to be carrying a hamstring injury.

Shoaib, who has taken 144 Test and 186 One-Day International wickets, has defended himself by claiming the pictures were all 'fakes' and computer generated.

The 29-year-old said he only visited a restaurant during the Test. He has also defended his form and fitness by insisting he had been bowling without any support from the other end and that the batting was equally to blame for letting the team down time and again.

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