|Player:||BC Lara, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif|
|Event:||West Indies in Pakistan 2006/07|
DateLine: 14th November 2006
West Indian captain Brian Lara said he had dinner with his friend Shoaib Akhtar and offered his best wishes after the Pakistan fast bowler was banned for doping.
"It is unfortunate what happened to him. I don't know much about it but I wished him the best," said Lara, who was invited by Akhtar to a Thai restaurant in Lahore on Monday night after the third day's play in the first Test.
Akhtar was banned from all international and national cricket for two years early this month after testing positive for the banned steroid nandrolone. His fellow new ball partner Mohammad Asif was banned for one year.
Lara said he got to know Akhtar during the Super Series in Australia last year.
Akhtar needed friends at a troubled time, the master West Indian batsman said.
"It was nice to spend some time with him when he was in difficulties and I am happy to have done that," said Lara.
Akhtar also paid tribute to Lara.
"He (Lara) was one of the few people I admire and I am thankful he accepted my invitation. He is a great player and a great person," said the paceman.
Asif and Akhtar have appealed against the bans and a three-member panel will start proceedings on their appeals from Tuesday.
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)