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Mirpur hungry for a Gayle-Akhtar show

cricket Updated: Mar 23, 2011 00:38 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times
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Cricket in the subcontinent is all about following the stars. Bangladesh might have been out of the tournament, but for fans gathering around the team hotel in Dhaka, Wednesday's quarter-final was about two characters, Chris Gayle and Shoaib Akhtar.

Both former Kolkata Knight Riders recruits, a team that has a huge following here primarily because of Sourav Ganguly and to some extent because they signed Mashrafe Mortaza, have been in and out of matches for completely different reasons and top of everybody's minds was whether they were going to play a part on Wednesday.

Understandably, all eyes were on the two the moment the teams began training.

Gayle, who missed the last match against India due to “stomach cramps”, was there at the training session. But as the rest of his teammates jogged and stretched, the opening batsman walked slowly behind them.

He skipped the football session but standing behind the goalline he was right there urging on the players. He batted at the nets, but not for long.

West Indies skipper Darren Sammy sounded optimistic when asked about Gayle.

"Both Gayle and Roach participated in our practice. I liked the way they looked. I know we will be able to come out with the best combination to win us the quarter-final. But tomorrow we will know exactly how his condition is. I know Chris is a very committed fellow and he will do whatever it takes to play. I have no doubt he will do his best to play," Sammy said.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/23_03_11-metro-21e.jpg

Contrastingly, though Akhtar seemed to be on the other side of his skipper's preference and after reported misconduct during the tournament has been sidelined. He has not been picked in the side since its only loss in the event to New Zealand.

Even on Tuesday, Shahid Afridi said he was not keen to change the winning combination. “I told you before that I want to go with the same combination, the winning combination. So let us see,” Afridi said.

The word must have reached Akhtar, who having already announced that he was going to retire after the World Cup, must be feeling that with the knock-out beginning Wednesday, time to get one last chance in Pak colours was running out.

Bowling to Younis Khan, Akhtar was generating some pace and movement and beat the Pakistan batting mainstay's outside edge thrice in three balls and stole a look at bowling coach Aaqib Javed, as if to put a good word across.