Shoaib Akhtar's poor performance in the opening game of Pakistan's ODI series against New Zealand may have cost him dearly. His figures of 0/47 in 4 overs has dented the faith that Shahid Afridi has reposed in him as a strike bowler, leading the Pakistan captain to hint that Shoaib would only be given a limited role in the upcoing World Cup.
"He is working hard in the nets and our coach Waqar Younis is spending lot of time with him. It is clear he still needs to work hard on his fitness and form," Afridi added.
The seasoned fast bowler played in the first one-dayer that Pakistan lost and was then left out in the next two matches. Pakistan preferred to play Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz and Sohail Tanvir in the second and third ODIs.
"Shoaib needs to be match fit and should train. [Coach] Waqar Younis is working hard with him," Afridi said.
Shoaib was left out of the last World Cup squad because of doping and fitness issues but featured in the 1999 and 2003 World Cups, making an impact in some of the matches.
The 35-year-old speedster who has taken 242 wickets in 158 one-day internationals has been a regular member of the T20 and ODI teams since last year and is said to be one of the main players who are supporting Afridi for the World Cup captaincy.
Sources within the team said that Afridi and Waqar appear to now think that in the sub-continental conditions in the World Cup, it would be better to rely on the younger pace bowlers instead of Shoaib who would have a limited role to play in what should be his last World Cup.