हिन्दीಕನ್ನಡമലയാളംதமிழ்తెలుగు

Rawalpindi express on track for England tour

Published: Tuesday, May 16, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Lahore:Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar said he was gearing up for a duel against English fast bowlers after overcoming fitness problems.

Akhtar, who underwent twin knee operations in February, faces a fitness test in 10 days to determine his availability for Pakistan's tour of England starting next month. But has already resumed bowling in the nets.

"I am bowling at 90 miles per hour and thanks to Almighty Allah I am feeling no pain in my knees," Akhtar told AFP on Tuesday.

He has not played since the final Test win over arch rivals India in Karachi in January.

Akhtar said his problems were different from those of England's Simon Jones whose comeback was twice delayed by recurrence of a knee injury.

"I have no fears of it recurring. I am working very hard to regain full fitness and will do extra work to avoid any recurrence," said the 30-year-old who missed the one-day series against India and the following tour to Sri Lanka.

Akhtar said he was confident of proving his fitness to selectors who are due to announce a preliminary squad for the tour of England where the teams will contest four Tests and five one-day matches.

The first Test starts at Lord's in London on July 13.

"I can't wait any more and when it's a tour to England it's fun. I have always enjoyed playing against England and when a fast bowler plays in England he is all pumped up because conditions are ideal for him," said Akhtar.

"It would be a great battle because we have a world class bowling attack with Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul, Rana Naved-ul Hasan and myself and they too have quality fast bowlers, so it would be like a pace war," said Akhtar.

Akhtar's only Test trip to England in 2001 proved a disaster as he took just one wicket in the Lord's Test and limped out of the tour after playing a single one-day match.

But when the Ashes-winning England toured Pakistan late last year, a fiery and rejuvenated Akhtar took 17 wickets in three Tests to help his team clinch the three-Test series 2-0.

Akhtar said that it will take more than fast bowling to beat England.

"It's always a combination of bowlers, batsmen and fielders which wins a match. If I took 17 wickets in the series it was Inzamam-ul Haq who batted superbly and we won because of a team effort.

"Total unity is the biggest asset of this current Pakistan team and it is playing like a unit and the results prove this," said Akhtar, whose attitude has won praise from from coach Bob Woolmer.

Pakistan have not lost a series since going down 3-0 to Australia in 2005.

Since then they drew 1-1 against Sri Lanka, India and the West Indies before beating India 1-0 at home early this year.

Former South African star Jonty Rhodes will join the Pakistan preparation camp for the tour giving advice on improving fielding.

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