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September 2, 2006
There has been very little sign of him feeling his way back into action following the ankle problems - which forced him to miss all four Tests - and he has given the England batsmen a stern challenge. His wicket of Andrew Strauss in the opening over set Pakistan on course, but Shoaib was quick to play down his role.
"I was just trying to bowl in the right areas. We weren't trying for wickets, but trying to put the dot balls together," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm still working on my fitness but today I was a lucky guy. I'm putting the ball in the right areas and things are going my way."
Despite seven wickets in the first two matches of this series, Shoaib insists he is still some way from his peak. "I should be bowling at around 95mph, that's my average, but I'm lacking match practice to be honest," he said in an ominous warning to opposition batsmen.
"I'm not match fit but my goals are really high and I'm thinking ahead towards the World Cup. I should be nice and fit by the Champions Trophy then we can look forward."
Shoaib also had praise for Mohammad Asif, who bowled his eight overs for 10 runs and grabbed two wickets, and said that Pakistan have a formidable unit when all their main players are fit. "Asif can swing it around and I can go at them with pace. Asif is a great asset to the team, and with this combination plus Rana we have a good bowling attack."
If Pakistan can field their current side at the World Cup they will be serious challengers for the main prize. Shoaib is aware of this but isn't getting carried away. "We are going to try our best to win it. We have great togetherness and great unity. We are 11 different guys but we all get on and help each other."
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of CricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
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