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Akhtar warns England of his return

india Updated: Jul 22, 2006 18:12 IST
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Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has promised to pose England's batsmen even more of a threat then he did last year when he returns to Pakistan's Test team.

"I still can't set a comeback time for Pakistan, though I know the third or fourth Tests have been mentioned," Akhtar said on Friday as he contemplated a return to action next month at either Headingley or The Oval, where the series climax against England starts on August 17.

"I don't feel that is up to me because if it was I would be playing tomorrow and running in hard again. I feel really fit and just want to bowl but, after what happened last time, I know I need to listen to my trainers," he said.

"One thing is for certain and that is when I do play against England I expect to bowl faster and better than when I bowled against them in Pakistan last year."

The 'Rawalpindi Express', who took 17 wickets during Pakistan's 2-0 win in a three-Test home series against England in November and December, missed last week's drawn first Test at Lord's while he continued his recovery from a stress fracture of the left ankle.

The 30-year-old is currently training at Edgbaston - the home of Warwickshire where Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer made his off-field reputation during the 1990s - under the supervision of Pakistan's South African fitness guru Murray Stevenson.

Akhtar said of his last encounter with England, "I wasn't fit enough then and I paid the price."

But he added, "I'm looking forward to attacking the England batsmen and not giving them any time to settle.

"I still haven't let go in the nets yet but I know how fit and strong I am feeling. This time my preparation has been much more patient than before."

"We're sensibly building up. My trainers know that it is not just about the England series. There is also a Champions Trophy (in India later this year), other tours and obviously the World Cup (next year in the West Indies)."

"They don't want me to be breaking down again," he added.

"I want to be playing for another five years yet so they are looking after my interests and Pakistan's interests," explained Akhtar, who in 42 Tests has taken 165 wickets at an average of under 26 apiece.

Akhtar was just one of three frontline Pakistan quicks missing at Lord's with Rana Naved-ul-Hasan previously ruled out of the tour with a groin injury and Mohammad Asif, also not expected to feature in the second Test, returning home to recover from an elbow problem.

In their absence Pakistan were unable to bowl England out at Lord's, the hosts declaring twice, and a lack of firepower in the field could be the biggest obstacle to hopes Inzamam-ul-Haq's side have of a series victory.

Meanwhile, Pakistan are thinking of recalling leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed, currently with English county Sussex, for the second Test starting on July 27 at Old Trafford, although the tour management have yet to make a decision.

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