The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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India loss a nightmare: Shoaib

London: Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has described the World Cup as a bit of nightmare, especially losing to India.

“I don’t know what’s gone wrong with me in this World Cup. I went for 72 off 10 over against India. I was trying hard and doing everything I could think of, but I just couldn’t get the ball in the right place...the whole thing was a nightmare,” Akhtar, the fastest bowler in the world, wrote in a column in The Guardian newspaper on Tuesday.

On Monday, skipper Waqar Younis said that Pakistan had failed to perform in all departments. Akhtar agreed.

“I take the blame. But you have to pick yourself up and keep on learning. I’m still a match-winning bowler,” he said.

Bowling against England last month, Akhtar was clocked at a record 161.3 kmph (just over 100 mph), but his efforts were in vain with Pakistan collapsing to a 112-run defeat.

Before the tournament started, the 1992 winners and 1999 finalists were ranked as the side most likely to challenge world champions Australia, along with South Africa.

Pakistan needed to win convincingly in their final group encounter with Zimbabwe Tuesday to boost their run-rate. But their thin outside chance of making it to the next stage went up in vapour after the match was abandoned due to rain, with both sides being awarded two points.

While that result lifted Zimbabwe above England into third place in the group standings behind Australia and India, Pakistan made an ignominious exit in the first round — first time since 1975 — finishing fifth in the group.

Akhtar said the Pakistani cricket team now needed to curb in-fighting and keep their eyes open for new talent if they were going to be a force in the game in future.

“We really need to start thinking about where we want to be in three years’ time — because that’s what the successful teams are doing.”

“I know some stuff may have reached the papers about a little bust-up involving Younis Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Saeed Anwar when we were playing football yesterday.

“But it’s no indication of us falling apart or anything. You have a game of football with your mates and sometimes it gets a bit heated. And that’s it,” said Akhtar.

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