I had to play for my team: Shoaib Akhtar | india | Hindustan Times
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I had to play for my team: Shoaib Akhtar

india Updated: Dec 06, 2007 01:59 IST
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Eeven myteammates were surprised by my decision to play in the Kolkata Test, despite being in hospital with a chest infection and exhaustion just a couple of days ago. They were surprised when I said I was fit enough to play, because they did know what I was going through.

It was one of the toughest decisions of my career — I had been completely weary and unwell, but I decided that it was a key match, and that as the key pace bowler, it was up to me to put my hand up and play the Test.

And when I bowled in the first innings, it was terrible — I was going through so much pain, I was coughing. It was not a very wise decision may be, but it was for the team.

And I am glad I took that decision. It was important for me to send out the message — that I was there for Pakistan.

Mujhe lunch tak kuchh nazar nahin aaya — until then, I had no idea where I was, how I was bowling. And that’s why I say it was one of the toughest things I’ve done, bowling 24 overs in that condition.

I will not change my workman-like attitude come what may. I’ve never been dishonest.

I’ve always been misunderstood; people think I’m never there for the team. I’ve broken my ribs, I’ve hurt my ankles, my knees, trying to put Pakistan on top. And I’ve lost out on contracts. I have no regrets, for what I did, I did for my country.

Look where I’m now — I’m still passionate about the game, I’m still bowling as fast as ever. And I really have no regrets.

Back to the game, I rested for a day-and-a-half in between and I was normal. When you see me laughing on the field, when you see me smiling, you can be sure that all’s well with me. And I’m pretty OK now.

The pitch at Kolkata, well, I was telling Rudi (Koertzen, the umpire) that you bury me where you bury the mike below the stumps. It was that sort of a track.

India surprised me when they decided to bat on the fifth day. I had thought they would ask us to bat on the fourth day, because the total they had, it was not gettable.

If I were the captain, I would have opted to go for a 2-0 series decision.

Wasim Jaffer, I think, is one of the most solid batsmen in the team. I think he’ll do very well in Australia. He stays there, once he gets going. Once he gets his rhythm, he hits the bad balls away. That’s what you need to do in Australia.

Though Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf batted well on the fifth day, I think the match-saving knocks were played by Misbah-ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal in the first innings.

Anyway, that’s history now, and we’re looking forward to a win in Bangalore. I hope the wicket will have some pace and bounce, and I can really go out and do it for Pakistan. I want to square it for my team.