England in Pakistan 2005-06 December 7, 2005

Solanki geared up for Shoaib

Cricinfo staff

Vikram Solanki is looking to improve upon his ODI average of 27 © Getty Images
Vikram Solanki, the England opener, says he is looking forward to facing Shoaib Akhtar when the five-match one-day leg of England's tour to Pakistan gets underway on Saturday.

Solanki, one-day crickets's first Supersub , and Shoaib were team-mates at Worcestershire this past season, and Solanki had the opportunity to witness the fast bowler up close: "Shoaib is a very interesting character - quite a unique type of guy," Solanki told BBC Sport. "Changing from 90 miles an hour to slower deliveries was quite impressive. He has exceptional talent."

Shoaib's short appearance for Worcestershire was marred by controversy after John Elliott, the club chairman, criticised his attitude, stating: "It's all about team spirit and getting the dressing-room right and when you've got a bloke like Shoaib in there, it can cause mayhem." Solanki referred to Elliot's comments as "unfortunate", adding that "Shoaib has obviously worked very hard on his fitness and bowled exceptionally well in the Tests."

Shoaib was a revelation in the three-Test series against England, bagging 17 wickets, many of which came at crucial moments. His batting was also a marked improvement over past displays, a fact praised by the media and the Pakistan team management.

Solanki, who wasn't part of England's squad for the Test series in Pakistan, believed he had a good chance of adding to his 41 one-day appearances. "I am just pleased to be here - it's fantastic to be part of the squad," he said. "Obviously, I'd like to play a full part and make best use of the opportunity." His last appearance in English colours was an unbeaten 53 from the No. 8 spot against Australia at The Oval during the 2005 summer.