I have not run away from India tour: Akhtar

Published: Sunday, February 20, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Lahore:Fiery Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar denied suggestions that he pulled out of the tour of India due to fear of failure, saying he was genuinely injured and still wants to play in the One-dayers.

"I have not run away from the tour, why would I?" Akhtar told reporters on Sunday.

"I am disappointed to be missing the tour but people saying I have run away is more disheartening. If I get fit and the team needs me I will play the One-day series."

The 29-year-old, dubbed the Rawalpindi Express for his pace, withdrew from the tour on Friday. He said it would take him at least a month to recover from a hamstring injury.

"I like to run towards the field and not away from it but what people don't understand is that a fast bowler can't play every game because it's too hard to do that," said Akhtar.

"It (the tour) would have given me a chance to make up for my not so good performance in the series we lost to India," said Akhtar. He took a meager seven wickets in Pakistan's 2-1 Test series loss to their archrivals last year.

India on Sunday announced the itinerary of the tour starting February 28. It will be Pakistan's first across the border for six years.

Pakistan will play three Tests, six One-day games and two warm-up side matches. The One-day series starting April 2 will be Akhtar's target.

His pull-out has further weakened a depleted Pakistan bowling attack with two other frontline pacemen -- Shabbir Ahmed and Umar Gul -- already out due to injuries.

The pace attack of the team, announced on Saturday, will now be led by Akhtar's new ball partner Mohammad Sami. He will be assisted by Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, left-armer Mohammad Khalil and all-rounder Abdul Razzaq.

Pakistan's former greats Imran Khan, Sarfraz Nawaz and Wasim Akram have termed Akhtar's absence a serious blow to Pakistan's chances on the tour.

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