Akhtar selection under fire

Islamabad: Pakistan's retention of out-of-form veteran paceman Shoaib Akhtar for next month's Twenty20 World Cup has drawn some sharp criticism within the country.

Akhtar, nicknamed the Rawalpindi Express, took just three wickets in the four one-day internationals of the just-completed series against Australia in the United Arab Emirates. That continued a poor recent run of form, as Akhtar attempts to kickstart a career often interrupted by injury and disciplinary bans.

"Shoaib Akhtar may be dying to play for Pakistan but why is Pakistan dying to play Shoaib Akhtar," asked English daily The News on Sunday. The fast bowler was dropped after playing two one-dayers against Sri Lanka, claiming just one wicket and not completing a quota of 10 overs in any of the games. Later, he postponed an operation on his troubled knee and opted to sit out from the two-Test series against Sri Lanka.

"He sat on the sidelines more than run on the field. He has been cited for misbehavior repeatedly.... and yet he still manages to get $37,302 'salary' from PCB plus all the perks. How does the man do it? Are the selectors compromised?" The News asked.

Former Test batsman Zaheer Abbas also recently advised Akhtar to retire from international cricket as he thought the paceman was not physically fit to compete in international cricket. "It's better he should quit playing international cricket, he looked unfit and was wayward," Abbas said after Pakistan lost the series against Australia.

Akhtar could not complete his quota of 10 overs in any one of the four matches against Australia while in the fielding he too look rusty. Akhtar has a checkered history of indiscipline and fitness problems and only made his comeback to international cricket in January against Sri Lanka after 14 months out.