Shoaib Akhtar pleased with comeback match

Published: Monday, August 7, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Leeds:Shoaib Akhtar was pleased with his form after emerging unscathed from his first match since February.

The 'Rawalpindi Express', who has been out of cricket while he recovers from a stress fracture of the left ankle, took two wickets for 10 runs in 7.4 overs while playing for Berkswell against St George's in the Birmingham League.

"My game for Berkswell was only supposed to be a leisurely return to bowling but I can tell you that I did not hold back on those club players at times," fast bowler Akhtar wrote Sunday in his diary on Bigstarcricket.com.

"I thought I bowled quite fast in my first four-over spell, even though my two wickets came later," Akhtar, 31 next week, added.

"I bowled at full speed for a couple of overs but came down to about half pace later on as I didn't want to risk a pulled muscle or strain in my first proper bowl in a long time," he explained of his role in Saturday's game in the English Midlands.

The paceman's previous match was the series-clinching third Test against India at Karachi in January and February.

Akhtar, who in common with fellow injured quicks Mohammad Asif (elbow) and Rana Naved (groin), has missed the first three Tests of the ongoing four-match series with England, could return to Pakistan action in the tourists' two-day game against West Indies A at Shenley, north of London, starting August 12.

That match is Pakistan's last scheduled fixture before the fourth Test gets underway at The Oval on August 17.

But Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer, whose team are currently 1-0 down but battling hard in the third Test at Headingley, could yet arrange for Akhtar to play more club games in a bid to bolster his spearhead bowler's fitness ahead of the series climax in south London.

Last year Akhtar had a leading role in the home Test series against England, taking 17 wickets as Pakistan won a three-match encounter 2-0.

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