Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has scotched speculations that a personal grudge against Shoaib Akhtar had resulted in the fast bowler being excluded from the squad for South Africa.
“I do not want to comment on this but all that is being reported is not correct. The selectors feel he needs more time to regain match fitness and we are hoping he will join us for the one-day series in South Africa,” Inzamam said prior to the team’s departure for Johannesburg on Tuesday night.
The Pakistan media had cited a rift between Inzamam and Shoaib as the reason for the latter’s exclusion, even after the fast bowler had been cleared of doping charges.
“The selectors have picked a balanced squad, particularly in the pace department. Shoaib has not played cricket for the last three months but I have no doubt that if he proves himself match-fit after playing domestic cricket, he will get a chance to come back,” said Inzamam.
On his team’s chances in South Africa, Inzamam said, “We have the experience and players to perform well. But it is a question of team effort and giving our best,” he said.
He admitted that the South Africa tour would play a crucial role in Pakistan’s build-up for the World Cup. “If we do well on this tour, it would build our confidence for the World Cup.”
Stephen Fleming to return
Wellington: New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming is set to return to the team for the fourth one-day international match against Sri Lanka on Saturday. Fleming was rested for the first three games of the five-match series, which New Zealand lead 2-1.
He replaces Nathan Astle who is being rested for the match in Auckland as part of coach John Bracewell’s rotation policy aimed at having a wider pool of match-fit players for the World Cup.
Kaneria has his sights on Warne
Lahore: Matching up to Shane Warne is quite a task, admits Danish Kaneria but the Pakistani leg-spinner is confident that he has it in him to take over the top slot from the Aussie veteran following his retirement after the Ashes. “...His success has inspired me. He made a name for himself purely by taking wickets and I want to do the same. I aim to be the top spinner in the world, certainly leg-spinner,” Kaneria said.
Kaneria, who plays for Essex, said he was looking forward to meeting Warne during the county season in England. Warne plays for Hampshire and despite retiring from international cricket, the Aussie will complete his two-year contract with the county side. Agencies