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World Cup defining moment for Pakistan - Shoaib

Mohammad Isam in Mirpur

February 13, 2011

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Shoaib Akhtar bowled an excellent opening spell and was unlucky not to pick up a wicket, England v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Chester-le-Street, September 10 2010
Shoaib Akhtar: "I want people to realize that still, very honourable people play for our country." © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Shoaib Akhtar
Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup
Teams: Pakistan

Shoaib Akhtar has called the upcoming World Cup his last, claiming it to be the "defining moment" of Pakistan cricket and perhaps of his own career. In a characteristically free-wheeling chat, Shoaib reaffirmed that he wanted to stay fit throughout, and end the tournament with the trophy in hand.

"Is this the twilight of my career? Yes. It is very special, playing in the sub-continent's World Cup," Shoaib said in Dhaka. "I am not sure about how long I'm going to be playing, but I will try to make sure it is full of memories".

"My personal target is to play every match and to leave 45-50 days after winning the World Cup," Shoaib said. "Obviously there's a huge difference between being 26 and 36. I have experience now but at the same time, I'm still bowling very quick, touching 145-150 kph easily." Shoaib used several adjectives to describe the Pakistan team ranging from "dangerous", "the most balanced" and the one having the cause it needs, but what stood out was him using the word "hurt" to describe the side.

"Obviously we are a very hurt side, whatever has happened in the last year or so. Pakistan needs a situation to gather themselves, and playing in India and Sri Lanka in the quarterfinals, that is going to really motivate us. I think the crowds, the situation, what happened to us, whatever the team has been through for the last six-seven months, that will inspire us. We are a very dangerous side but a very hurt side."

"We need to win at any cost, the team needs a situation, and what better situation than the World Cup. I think this is a defining moment for Pakistani cricket.

Shoaib's personal motivation for this tournament comes from proving people wrong, not just about himself, but the team too. "I wish Mohammad Amir was playing right now, I would have retired easily but it is not happening. That's what motivates me to come and play my last World Cup. I want people to realize that still, very honourable people play for our country."

On the field, Shoaib said that Pakistan's ability to swing the new and old ball both ways is their strong point. "The main advantage for us is reverse swing, that's where I think Pakistan team's strength lies. We have the best combination of reverse swing and new-ball fast bowlers. I think we can manage to put it out right," Shoaib said, adding that the slow nature of the wickets might yet hamper the fast bowlers but will assist the batsmen.

Of his possible duel with his old nemesis Sachin Tendulkar, Shoaib confirmed that he hasn't lost sight of the rivalry or of taking the important wickets.

The 2009 World Twenty20 triumph was perfect for the situation at the time in Pakistan, but Shoaib firmly believed that if they can do the job again this time, it could provide the people back home with more than just heroes or a trophy. "Pakistan needs to win this World Cup to bring back cricket to Pakistan, the charm back to the country. People of Pakistan are missing cricket, they are dying to watch players from all over the world playing against Pakistan."

Mohammad Isam is Senior Sports Reporter, The Daily Star in Dhaka


Comments: 159 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (February 15, 2011, 7:23 GMT)

well said very well said indeed mustafa.we will make it to semi's INSHALLAH

Posted by Venkatesh on (February 14, 2011, 20:06 GMT)

though i'm an indian, i've always been in awe of pakistan bowlers for their pace and aggression...

Posted by Mustafa on (February 14, 2011, 18:05 GMT)

Tell you what, if Pakistan make it to the semi, it would expose whoever loses, be it India, or anyone, if you can't beat a side that has gone through this much in the last 2 years, with so many players lost for one reason or another, then you should just hang your boots and stop playing cricket.

As for Pakistan, they have nothing to lose, no one expects anything from them, let me say it again, only a die hard fan would even consider a semi spot for them, but if they make it, some heads in some teams will roll def.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 14, 2011, 17:24 GMT)

sachin smashed him but u now what a comeback from shoaib akhtar he gift 90+ miles bouncer and tendulker hahahaha ?????? indians! what is SHOAIB AKHTAR? tendulkar and ganguly explain better than u`

Posted by Hasan on (February 14, 2011, 17:10 GMT)

Ex-West Indian Captain, Jeffrey Dujon' once said "90% of cricket is played above the shoulders". Smart thinking, planning and execution is what he was alluding to. It would all depend on how smart Shaihid Afrid'si thinking, planning and execution ploy is on and off the field and how smartly he utilizes bowlers and batsmen influencing them to stick to the game plan. Everyone should be assigned a role and they each need to follow it. Shoaib needs to bowl with discipline and accuracy - just the way he did in 1999, every ball on the stumps mixed with frequent yorkers. Back then, his in-swinging yorkers were deadly and unplayable, let's hope he remembers them. However, boundaries came in abundance when emotions took over him and he had stopped thinking. I hope Afridi and Waqar would spend rest days watching 1999 world cup video followed by 1992 final's video. Thinking and emotions together is the only way to success and glory. Best of luck greens, go get it. Hasan Jawaid , Nj , USA.

Posted by Harish on (February 14, 2011, 16:31 GMT)

The fact is that Pakistan has to win games purely from its bowling department --- specifically pressure on Umar Gul. Shoaib is far from the bowler he was once except for his big mouth. The batting is a major problem. The minnows will be targeting Pakistan due to their unpredictability to cause their much desired upset win.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 14, 2011, 16:10 GMT)

shoaib akhtar,my favourite bowler will definitly rock dis world cup... he will terrorize all the batsman with his fiery pace and banana swinging deliveries..

Posted by Muhammad Jaber on (February 14, 2011, 16:05 GMT)

Pak is one on the most dangerous and unpredictable side amongst all the team, then can don wonders, so i have not doubt in saying the pakistan got the same chances of getting the Trophy in their hand as the other sides, Good Luck Pakistan, Good Luck Shoaib Akhtar

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 14, 2011, 14:05 GMT)

gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood luck

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 14, 2011, 13:42 GMT)

I'm big fan of imran khan but very disappointed to read his statement about shoaib akhtar.....we love u akhtar and hope some special from u in the world cup as u done in past many times......

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