Inzamam confident of Shoaib Akhtar comeback

Published: Monday, May 15, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar will be invited to a camp later this month to determine his fitness ahead of the tour of England, but captain Inzamam-ul-Haq is confident the fast bowler will soon be back to full strength.

Shoaib has been out of action since February following a knee operation in Australia and was also diagnosed with a stress fracture of his back.

''The reports about his rehabilitation are very positive. He is in the gym and has also started bowling in the nets,'' Inzamam told Reuters in an interview today.

''We will invite him for the camp and hopefully he should be 100 percent fit soon.'' The 30-year-old Shoaib, who has taken 165 Test and 199 One-day international wickets, claimed 17 wickets to lead Pakistan to a 2-0 win over England in last winter's Test series.

He was later ruled out of the One-day series against India with fitness problems.

''Shoaib is an important member of our attack. Conditions in England help the pace bowlers and we would like to go there with our first line pack of bowlers,'' Inzamam said.

Pakistan play four Tests and five One-dayers in England from late June.

''I see him forming a very potent new ball attack with Muhammad Asif. Then we will also look again at Muhammad Sami,'' said Pakistan's captain.

Asif has spearheaded Pakistan's bowling in Shoaib's absence, taking 23 wickets in his last three Tests while Sami was dropped in the home series against India.

Inzamam, 36, described the coming England series as crucial for his team's progress as a Test side.

''We have a quality leg spinner in Danish Kaneria who has bowled a lot in their conditions. And we are planning to go at them with a top pace attack,'' he said.

England are currently playing Sri Lanka without captain Michael Vaughan, fast bowlers Simon Jones and Steve Harmision and spinner Ashley Giles, who were all key players in last year's Ashes success.

''The Ashes for England is a long way off. I think their performances against us will decide if they can retain it in Australia,'' he said.

Inzamam, who has played 109 Tests and 361 One-dayers, said he supported the use of more technology by the International Cricket Council (ICC) but said sooner or later they would have to decide whether to enforce it completely.

''Technology makes the job of the umpires easy but the ICC must decide how far they want to go.''

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