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Shoaib eyes positives from defeating Australia

Shoaib Akhtar arrives for a fitness test at the Gaddafi Stadium AFP

Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar believes beating Australia in the limited-overs series in the UAE would help send a strong message to other nations to tour Pakistan. "If we beat Australia we can send a strong message that we are a good side and they should come (to Pakistan) and play against us more often," Shoaib said.

Australia will be taking on Pakistan in five ODIs and a Twenty20 international to be played in Abu Dhabi and Dubai from April 22-May 7. A neutral venue was decided on because Australia had declined to tour Pakistan on security grounds, even before the terror attack on the Sri Lanka team last month in Lahore.

"I know whatever happened (in Lahore) was not good for Pakistan," Shoaib said. "(But) this coming series is a good opportunity for us to beat a strong team like Australia, which may help us in inviting strong teams to Pakistan and take our country out of isolation."

Shoaib, 33, passed a three-day fitness test last week before he was selected in a 15-man squad for the UAE series. Disciplinary and fitness problems restricted him to playing just two ODIs since November 2007, both against the visiting Sri Lankan team in January this year. It was the same opposition he played his last Twenty20 international against, in King City, in October last year.

"Nobody can give a guarantee of fitness in international matches, but I have come into the side after passing a fitness test," he said. "I want to bowl my full quota of 10 overs and enjoy fielding."

Australia have rested three players for the series - captain Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey and Mitchell Johnson - while Shane Watson, Andrew Symonds and Brett Lee have been recalled.

"Ponting is a great player and so is Hussey, they will surely be missed," Shoaib said. "But Australia have some very good players like Shaun Marsh and Michael Clarke but if our bowlers bowl to their potential, we have a chance to win the series."

He also backed captain Younis Khan, who replaced Shoaib Malik in January after Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan 2-1 in the three-match ODI series. "Younis is a very popular man in the dressing room. He does work very hard and leads from the front," Shoaib said. "His captaincy is the best thing that has happened to Pakistan and I am very happy with him."