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April 17, 2004
Shoaib Akhtar is facing possible disciplinary action after reports alleged he may have feigned an injury to avoid bowling on the third day of the Rawalpindi Test because of differences with Inzamam-ul-Haq. In a telephone conversation he had with Rashid Latif, Shoaib suggested that he wasn't happy with Inzamam's field settings for his bowling.
Latif disclosed the contents of the phone call on a local channel on Wednesday night, where he claimed that some other players had also complained about problems within the team. A local newspaper reported that some team members were not convinced of Shoaib's injury, and also revealed that X-rays on his injured wrist showed no damage.
When Shoaib subsequently came out on Friday to bat, signs of a side strain or wrist injury were not immediately apparent as he blasted 28 off 14 balls, with four fours and two sixes. The cameo prompted Inzamam-ul-Haq to claim that he "was surprised at the way Shoaib had batted". On being questioned about Shoaib's alleged phone call to Latif, Inzamam said that an inquiry would be held and, depending on the result, disciplinary action would be taken against Shoaib. "If something like this has happened then we will take action against it. This sort of behaviour can cause disruption within the team. There will be an inquiry into the matter and action will be taken." Inzamam did say, however, that there was no question of differences between him and Shoaib.
Shaharyar Khan, the PCB's chairman, in a chaotic press conference, also faced persistent questions about Shoaib. "He was seen hitting sixes today after not playing yesterday. But we will sit down - the management committee will look at the doctor's report, the players' views and the captain and manager's views and if it is found that any player didn't play or give their all for non-cricketing reasons, then action will be taken. Nobody is bigger than the national team."
He further added, "I went up and spoke to Shoaib myself. He was on the massage table at that point. I asked him what was wrong with him since I assumed only his wrist was injured. He said that he felt an unbelievable pain in his side when he fell over while bowling. He said that he was in so much pain that he couldn't sleep and that regardless of what the X-rays showed, he was in much pain. The doctor's report can say whatever, but if a guy is still saying he is in so much pain then maybe an investigation is required."
Both Latif's statements and Shoaib's actions attracted the scorn of the PCB chief executive, Rameez Raja. Raja said, "We are certainly going to ask Shoaib about this because it is not good for the dressing-room atmosphere. And how can Rashid be so irresponsible to discuss such things in public."
Shoaib, meanwhile, has been preparing to visit India for a commercial shoot.
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