x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Pakistan plan to spread the grief

Shoaib Akhtar says he and his Pakistan teammates are taking their anger over the corruption scandal that has plagued the team out on their opponents at the Cricket World Cup.

Shoaib Akhtar, left, bowls during a Pakistan training session at the P. Sara Oval Stadium in Colombo yesterday.
Shoaib Akhtar, left, bowls during a Pakistan training session at the P. Sara Oval Stadium in Colombo yesterday.
Pakistan are still reeling from the cricket corruption scandal that has dogged the side since last summer, but Shoaib Akhtar has warned that he and his teammates plan to take out their frustrations over the affair on their World Cup opponents.
Salman Butt, Pakistan's then Test captain, and the bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer were banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) last month, after being found guilty of spot-fixing, which depleted Pakistan's bowling options just two weeks before the start of the World Cup.
But Akhtar said the loss of the trio has helped unite the squad and galvanised them to push for a second World Cup victory to replicate their 1992 success.
"We are a hurt side so we are here to hurt others," Akhtar said yesterday. "It's better that it happened to us because every time a controversy happens it gathers us together and what better situation than before a World Cup?"
Pakistan beat co-hosts Sri Lanka by 11 runs in their last match after seeing off Kenya by 205 runs in their opening game.
Akhtar, 35, admitted he was missing Aamer and Asif but said others have stepped up.
"Obviously without Aamer and Asif we have suffered badly, they were the best with the new ball, it's unfortunate what happened to them. Had they been with us it would have been the most lethal bowling attack," he said.
"But the way [Umar] Gul and [Abdul] Razzaq have been bowling, the way [Wahab] Riaz is bowling, we can still do a much better job as we have variety in our attack."
Akhtar, who has taken 246 wickets in 162 one-day internationals, said he had changed his bowling style to maintain his fitness, concentrating on accuracy rather than the pure pace that in the past regularly saw him bowl in excess of 100mph.
"I left this race of bowling at 100mph a long time ago," he said. "I am nearing 36 now and am more mature, so I am focusing more on getting wickets now than bowling fast. But I crossed 98mph the other day."
He said he is enjoying the chance to perform on the world stage after injury and discipline problems left him sidelined four years ago.
But he warned his teammates - who next face Canada in Colombo on Thursday - not to be over confident after beating Sri Lanka. "We have to move on and we shouldn't get complacent," he said.