Sourav Ganguly welcomes Akhtar | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Sourav Ganguly welcomes Akhtar

The Kolkata skipper welcomes the speedster's inclusion in the squad but maintains team efforts are crucial for his team to succeed, reports Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.

cricket Updated: May 06, 2008 02:27 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

The most talked about and most harried team in terms of performance in the Indian Premier League got a boost in the form of Shoaib Akhtar's arrival in the city on Monday evening. After losing four matches on the trot — which queers the pitch for them as far as making the semi-finals is concerned — the Kolkata team led by Sourav Ganguly and co-owned by Shah Rukh Khan welcomed the controversial speedster's inclusion.

“He was in our scheme of things initially, and after having had to make do without him in all these games, it's good to know that he is joining the team,” Ganguly told HT. “Having said that, it's equally important to realise that no individual can turn things around dramatically. For our team to succeed, everyone has to do well. Many matches are still left to be played and I don’t think any team should be written off at this moment.”

It's not certain whether Shoaib will spearhead the attack in Kolkata's next match — at Eden Gardens against Bangalore on Thursday — because the team management apparently wants to check how fit the bowler is. Irrespective of that, it's not difficult to assume how potent the fast bowling department would become, on paper at least, when Shoaib joins Umar Gul and Ishant Sharma.

Given the way Shoaib struggled with fitness during the Test series in December, his presence could have been a liability but in T20 where a bowler can bowl a maximum of four overs, he can be quite a menace.<b1>

The non-playing members of the team management were happy to acknowledge the role played by Lalit Modi in getting Shoaib’s ban suspended for a month. “A major part of the credit should go to him. He has done a great job,” said Joy Bhattacharya, director of media and team for the Kolkata side, of the BCCI vice-president.

It's not known when exactly he would mark his run-up near the boundary line on the ground where he clean bowled Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar off successive deliveries in Pakistan's win over India in a Test match in 1999, but Shoaib's arrival has suddenly added a bit of zing to the din around a team that is struggling to win. Time will tell how vital his presence would be in a tale where the script is taking several unforeseen turns.