India in Pakistan, 2005-06 December 28, 2005

'Beware of Shoaib' - Intikhab Alam

Cricinfo staff

A changed bowler and a changed team: Shoaib Akhtar and Pakistan are an outfit to be wary of © AFP
The former Pakistani bowler Intikhab Alam has signalled a warning to India to beware the pace of Shoaib Akhtar who, he believes, will create immense problems for the tourists next month.

Prior to Pakistan's series against England, Akhtar received criticism for his lack of fitness and questions surfaced about his commitment from his coach, Bob Woolmer, among others. These doubts dissipated, however, as he stormed through England's batsmen taking 17 wickets at 24.58.

"India will have to watch him," Alam told PTI. "Pakistan beat England who had defeated Australia for the first time in 18 years and this has given confidence to the Pakistani team."

Alam, who played 47 Tests for Pakistan and who coaches Punjab, said Pakistan are a changed team since beating England 2-0 in the recent series: "This Pakistani team is not the one that lost early last year," he said. "It is a more mature, experienced and united bunch of cricketers.

"It will be foggy atmosphere and will be difficult to complete quota of 90 overs in a day. In such circumstances, the first Test should have been played in Karachi. The weather conditions are different in January and February. Last time, India had visited Pakistan in the month of March and April, and this will make a lot of difference," he said.

"If the opening pair puts up good total then India will not find it difficult to score runs as it has very good middle order batting line up which Pakistan does not have. Pakistan is better prepared to take on India this time and Inzmam-ul-Haq is also in good batting performance. The win against England has boosted the morale and confidence of the captain."