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Akhtar demands explanation from PCB

Karachi: Heart-broken after being ignored for the West Indies tour, Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar on Tuesday demanded an explanation from the country's cricket authorities for his ouster from the team.

In an interview here at the National Stadium, where he had come to shoot a promo for Rashid Latif Cricket Academy, Akhtar, nevertheless, vowed not to give up and promised that he would be back in the side for the home series against England.

``I am disappointed and heart-broken. I had conveyed my availability (for the West Indies tour) because I was convinced that I was fit. But even then, I have not been considered,'' Akhtar said.

``What puzzles me the most is that nobody is willing to tell me whether I have been dropped on fitness grounds or disciplinary reasons or for not appearing before PCB's medical commission to prove fitness,'' the 29-year-old said.

Shoaib, who is Pakistan's most successful current bowler, was called back halfway through the Australian tour earlier this year because of a hamstring injury. He then pulled out from the tour of India before being overlooked for the West Indies tour.

Contrasting statements

The Pakistan Cricket Board and the team management have issued contrasting statements that have made Akhtar's omission a mystery.

``The final decision regarding the composition of the team is of the selectors and if they don't want to select me, I respect that,'' Akhtar said.

``But I want to know why I have been left out and they (selectors) owe me that (explanation). I maintain that I am fit and that's what I have to say about myself,'' Akhtar, who has twice broken the 100-mile barrier, said.

``I am willing to take this in its stride because it is part of the game. As a professional you have ups and downs. You can't have all good 100 days. But, then you should know why you are not part of the team.

``No one can question or doubt my commitment to the team. In the last 15 odd Tests, I have taken nearly 80 wickets and have bowled my heart out. Internationally, I am tagged as a hard worker and someone who wants to perform and that's why people love me.

``I am heart-broken but that doesn't mean that I have given up. I have now not only set myself a target to play in this year-ender against England and I now want to bowl Pakistan to series victory.''

Joining Worcestershire

Akhtar said he would be joining Worcestershire next month and will play as their overseas player in the English County championship.

He said he would surely get physically better by training and playing in the County.

Akhtar wished the Pakistan cricket team best of luck in the series against the West Indies. ``I want to see them win because it (victory) unites us as a nation. Besides, it's the country's team and we should always back it.

``Pakistan team has won without Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and many more. I am sure they would win without me and they would match their performance in India,'' he said.

Bike to be auctioned

Known for his penchant for heavy bikes, Shoaib Akhtar will auction one from his collection to raise money for last year's tsunami victims. — Agencies

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