Karachi: Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar dispelled the impression he is keen to join Indian movies and quit cricket, saying he intends to play cricket as long as he is performing.
"I want to play cricket and just showing a little interest in films doesn't mean I am leaving the game," Akhtar, speaking for the first time since last month's tour of India, told AFP.
"I stayed back in India for two weeks, not for films but to help raise funds for an organisation called India Charity and no one should question my integrity and commitment for the team."
The 32-year-old fast bowler was criticised for his off-field activities on the tour of India where Pakistan lost the one-day series 2-3 and Tests 0-1.
Akhtar took six wickets in the first Test in New Delhi where Pakistan lost by six wickets. He then suffered viral infection but still played the second Test in Calcutta, managing just two wickets in the match.
In the final Test at Bangalore, Akhtar hurt his back and could take only one wicket in the second innings.
Akhtar refused to agree he lacked commitment.
"I bowled my heart out in the one-day series where we lost because of poor batting and then did my best in the first Test where again we failed to put a reasonable total on the board in the second innings.
"I am deeply disappointed at hurting my back in the last Test. I had to leave the field for hospital where MRI (scans) took several hours and when I returned India had scored enough runs. I still bowled 17 overs in the second innings.
"I have always played for the country and yet people question my commitment. I agree I am more prone to injuries than others but it's because I bowl fast and try hard, and even team officials can vouch for that."
Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson defended Akhtar.
"I never felt let down by Akhtar. He concentrated hard and when fit he was the bowler most likely taking wickets for us. Unfortunately, he fell ill and then unfit but he was our best bowler and, if fit, we want him against Australia," Lawson said on Friday.
Akhtar said he was ready to play against Zimbabwe in the five-match series starting next week.
"Fast bowlers need rhythm and if I play at least two to three matches against Zimbabwe I will be in a good rhythm to face the Australians. It is a good policy to try out youngsters against Zimbabwe but we must ensure a series win before trying new players."
Pakistan face Australia in three Tests and five one-day internationals in March-April, a series which hangs in the balance over security fears in Pakistan.