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Akhtar saunters in, Malik storms out

Despite being ignored for the home one-day series against Zimbabwe...

Despite being ignored for the home one-day series against Zimbabwe on fitness grounds and dropped from the central contracts list, Pakistan’s pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar declared nothing was more important to him than playing for his country. “I have no problems if they don’t give me a contract. I don’t need one to play for Pakistan. Playing for my country is a far bigger honour than anything and I don’t just play for money,” he said.

On Friday, Shoaib Akhtar has finally came out of his self-imposed refuge and showed up for a training session at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), unhappy not to have any contact with the bowler ever since the tour of India, is also unhappy that Akhtar considered an offer to act in a Bollywood production. “When I have not signed anything why are they making a big issue of it? Someone spoke to me, and that is all. As an individual I can consider many things but cricket remains my priority.”

Even as Akhtar chose to show up at practice, Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik left a press conference abruptly after being bombarded with questions about the fast bowler’s sudden appearance in the national team’s practice session.

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Malik was asked whether Akhtar had been invited for the practice session or whether the bowler had come on his own. Malik tried to parry the questions, stating that it was good he was back as he was an asset for Pakistan cricket, but when the reporters persisted, Malik lost his cool.

Apparently, Malik was uncomfortable with the subject, as the board was not involved in it, a source said. He said coach Geoff Lawson had specifically instructed Akhtar to attend the nets session on Saturday.

First published on: 01-02-2008 at 11:36:22 pm
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