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Akhtar relishes Flintoff challenge
by AFP


Player:Shoaib Akhtar, A Flintoff
Event:England in Pakistan 2005/06

DateLine: 28th November 2005

 

Top Pakistani paceman Shoaib Akhtar said Monday he relished the challenge of bowling at England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff because he was the "dangerman".

 

"Flintoff is my main target and I am enjoying the battle," Akhtar said on the eve of the third and final Test here.

 

Akhtar tested the ace England all-rounder with bouncers during the drawn second Test at Faisalabad before having him caught by substitute Hasan Raza at gully.

 

He has so far dismissed Flintoff in three of the four Test innings.

 

"We know how important his wicket is and that's why I target him and will continue to do that," said Akhtar, who grabbed three wickets to wreck England's top order at Faisalabad.

 

"We needed quick wickets (at Faisalabad) and got them. But in the end, we ran short of time and the England tail held on for a draw."

 

England, chasing 285 to win, were struggling at 20-4 before lower-order batsmen Geraint Jones and Ashley Giles defied the Pakistani attack for nearly 10 overs to salvage a draw.

 

The enigmatic and injury-prone Akhtar, who missed Pakistan's last two Test series against India and the West Indies early this year, has taken 11 wickets in two Tests of the ongoing series.

 

The series is a big test for the Pakistani paceman who was criticised by coach Bob Woolmer and media for his attitude and lack of committment.

 

The various injuries have forced Akhtar to miss 35 of Pakistan's 71 Tests since he made his debut in 1997.

 

There were also doubts over his inclusion in the team for the current England series because of his frequent break-downs.

 

But Akhtar has made his presence felt in the first two Tests.

 

"I always try to give my hundred percent and I am happy I have contributed in this series," said Akhtar, who has so far taken 157 wickets in 38 Tests.

 

Woolmer and captain Inzamam-ul-Haq were pleased with Akhtar's comeback.

 

"Before the series, he had promised to give his best and told me he would be a new Akhtar. He has so far lived up to his promise," said Woolmer.

 

Inzamam echoed the same sentiments.

 

"Akhtar has done his best and I am happy with his commitment," he said.

 

The fast bowler, who took eight wickets in Pakistan's win against South Africa here two years ago, said he would try to give yet another match-winning perfomance.

 

"This is my lucky ground and I would like to end the series with a match-winning show," said Akhtar.

(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)



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