Mohsin backs Akhtar for good show in World Cup

Karachi: The captain and the coach may have questioned his fitness but chief selector Mohsin Khan has no doubt that Shoaib Akhtar is still a match winner, who can do well for Pakistan in the ongoing cricket World Cup.

"I still have lot of faith in Shoaib. He has always been a match-winner under all conditions and I am confident he will make an impact with his bowling in this World Cup as well," Mohsin, former Test opener, said.

Mohsin said the purpose of selecting Akhtar in the World Cup squad, despite concerns over his fitness, was based on the theory that there was a need a to have a genuine fast bowler in the side in such a major tournament.

"The selectors closely observed the fitness and performances of Shoaib in recent series and also monitored his attitude and commitment through the team management and we found that it would be okay to repose confidence in him for
such a major tournament," Mohsin said.

The 35-year old pacer, who has taken 178 Test and 244 ODI wickets in the course of his international career that began in 1997, bowled superbly in Pakistan`s World Cup opener against Kenya as he gave away just 10 runs in five overs.

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi and coach Waqar Younis expressed concerns over his match fitness but Mohsin said the selectors wanted Akhtar in the side and now it was up to the team management how they use him.

"We feel that despite his age, he is still very fast and bowls an intelligent line and length and we have seen a clear determination in him to make an impact in what is probably his last World Cup," the chief selector said.

"Having him in the side will always give Pakistan an edge because opposing batsmen still respect him for his pace and intelligent bowling and he can always be used in short spells to break partnerships," Mohsin added.

He said that in the past Shoaib faced problems because of disciplinary issues but now he is changed and determined to do something for the team which is a good sign for us.

"All fast bowlers have niggling injuries and unless someone like him is facing a major fitness issue the selectors feel he is still good enough to do something for Pakistan in the World Cup," he said.

Pakistan plays Sri Lanka in their second World Cup match on Saturday in Colombo.