“I am feeling quite sick and very weak,” said Shoaib Akhtar, speaking in an unusually feeble, raspy mumble as he was transferred back to the team hotel in Kolkata on Wednesday evening, after a 24-hour stay in hospital.
The Apollo Gleneagles Hospital spokesperson --- where Akhtar was admitted on Tuesday evening with a severe chest infection --- declared on Wednesday that the star Pakistan paceman had shown great signs of improvement and that the infection was under control. But Akhtar himself sounded both unsure and stressed when quizzed over whether he would be absolutely fit for the second Test. “No, I really cannot say I am feeling better,” he told the Hindustan Times over phone from Kolkata, even though medically, according to doctors, he is better.
Akhtar, who was on drip until the morning, was non-committal when asked if he would be in a position to lead the Pakistan bowling attack in the Eden Test, which begins on Friday. He said it would depend on how he felt on Thursday. “Let’s see how it goes,” he said, even while Pakistan team sources confirmed that they were extremely worried about what they would do if Akhtar were not fully fit.
It would be a difficult decision to make. As things stand, even if he is given the go-ahead by doctors, Pakistan might opt to not play him if not fully fit, as there would be a question mark over whether he would be able to last out the game. “We are hoping that Shoaib will be fully fit,” said a senior Pakistani player, “if he’s not, things will be very difficult.”
Yes, they would. Even with Akhtar bowling his heart out, Pakistan lost Delhi with almost a full day to space; without him, it could spell calamity in Kolkata.