Woolmer elated to see Akhtar, Asif back in nets

Published: Saturday, December 9, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Lahore:Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer said he was happy that Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif had overturned their doping bans, even if they have little chance of playing against the West Indies.

The new-ball pair practised with the team ahead of the third one-day against the West Indies here on Sunday, but looked out of touch when they bowled in the nets.

"Of course their return is good for the team and I hope everything goes well for them. I don't see them playing in this West Indies series because they need match practice, but you never know," Woolmer told reporters.

"Akhtar told me he needs a month and Asif too needs time so they must play some domestic matches. Their return will certainly boost our bowling," Woolmer added.

Akthar and Asif, banned for two years and one year respectively in November after testing positive for the steroid nandrolone, won their appeals against the punishments on Tuesday.

The decision prompted criticism from the International Cricket Council, but Woolmer said he was satisfied.

"I read a lot of reaction on the judgment, most of which was uninformed," said the coach, who took over in 2004.

"Both the commissions did the right thing and if you read the appeal committee's judgment, you would be satisfied like I am."

Woolmer said he hoped Pakistan would keep up their momentum after taking a 1-0 lead in the five-match series with a narrow two-wicket win at Faisalabad. The first game was rained off.

"A low-scoring match is always tight and I hope that the next game is a good one and we keep the tempo," said Woolmer, whose team lost eight wickets in chasing a modest 152-run target at Faisalabad.

Woolmer said left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman, who took 2-20 on his debut in the second match, was "impressive" and added to Pakistan's options for the 2007 World Cup.

Pakistan tour South Africa for five one-day games and three Tests before the ninth World Cup in the Caribbean in March-April next year.


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