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Series is on, Shoaib is not
Shoaib: Express derailed

Feb. 18: The good news is that Pakistan has agreed to play a one-day match in Ahmedabad.

And the bad news is that Shoaib Akhtar is not coming. What bad news' Indian batsmen who fear fast bowling or do not have the technique to face up to Shoaib may ask.

From all indications it appears Sachin Tendulkar, nursing a tennis elbow for months, would be fit to play since it was announced today that he would lead West Zone in the Duleep Trophy tie against the South on February 22.

But there will be no Mumbai Maestro versus Rawalpindi Express, which is what an India-Pakistan Test match is all about ' whether in Ahmedabad or Calcutta. With the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) accepting its Indian counterpart's revised proposal to play a one-dayer, instead of a Test, in Ahmedabad, it was confirmed today that the eastern metro will host the five-day match.

'We have accepted the proposal to play in Ahmedabad,' PCB media adviser Abbas Zaidi said after a meeting of the board in Lahore.

'Whatever has been proposed by BCCI (the Indian board) has been accepted by us,' he added, making it clear that the PCB had agreed to a delayed start to the series that was to have begun on February 25.

The BCCI had said yesterday that the series would have to deferred by at least seven days because of the changed itinerary and a court case over telecast rights.

'We appreciate BCCI showing understanding of some of our reservations,' Pakistan said.

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi was appreciative, too, of Pakistan agreeing to play at least a one-dayer in Ahmedabad.

'I hope they come... play... and show sportsman spirit. Allah and Ishwar have given them understanding and I thank them for that,' he said.

The revised itinerary should be known latest by Sunday.

The tour lost some its shine when Shoaib announced he was pulling out because of injury. 'I aggravated my injury a couple of days ago and now it seems that I will take four to five weeks to recover,' he said.

He left open the possibility of playing the one-day series that would follow the three Tests.

Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq said the pullout was a 'terrible blow' to the team.

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