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Acid test for Shoaib Akhtar

Karachi: Pakistan’s young cricketers set off for Sri Lanka on Sunday for a tri-series that could make or break pacer Shoaib Akhtar. Shoaib’s career suffered a major hiccup after Pakistan’s first-round World Cup exit in March.

To add to his humiliation, the Pakistan cricket chief warned that the Sri Lankan tour could be Shoaib’s last if he didn’t pull up his socks.

“The Sri Lanka tour could be a turning point in Shoaib’s career. He is a match winner but it is up to him how he goes about his cricket now and how much importance he lays on his role as a key player,” captain Rashid Latif said. Bowling controversies, vulnerability to injury and discipline problems have dogged the 27-year-old pacer. “Shoaib is his own worst enemy and this is his last chance to revive his career,” Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Lt. Gen Tauqir Zia warned last week. A perennial newsmaker, Shoaib’s bowling action was questioned on three occasions and he was twice suspended on disciplinary grounds.

With 88 wickets in 25 Tests and 133 in 81 ODIs, Shoaib is Pakistan’s frontline bowler but will be forbidden from making statements and will have to let his performance do the talking.

SQUAD

Rashid Latif (captain), Yousuf Youhana (vice-captain), Mohammed Hafeez, Taufiq Umer, Faisal Iqbal, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Yasir Hameed, Faisal Athar, Abdul Razzaq, Shabbir Ahmed, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammed Sami, Umer Gul, Danish Kaneria.

Coach: Javed Miandad.

Manager: Haroon Rasheed.

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