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Shoaib & Co paint city pink

Shoaib, Asif and Naved were all lustily greeted by fans gathered inside the Sawai Man Singh stadium in Jaipur.

india Updated: Oct 12, 2006 13:26 IST

On Wednesday, the Pink City had three new heroes to cheer.

Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammed Asif and Rana Naved-ul Hasan were all lustily greeted by the huge crowd gathered inside the Sawai Man Singh stadium as they finished their first practice session since getting into town.

“It feels great to be back in India. It is nice to know that so many people love you here,” said Akhtar, after taking stock of the ongoing West IndiesBangladesh game.

Just back to international cricket after a knee injury, Akhtar seemed fit and raring to go.

“It is always nice and exciting to come and play in India,” he said. “My aim is to play good cricket. If we play to our potential, everyone will enjoy it.” True enough.

Like Akhtar, his new-ball partner and young sensation Asif too said he would take things as they come.

“I recently played a first-class game here (for Sialkot against UP in Dharamsala) and that gave me a lot of confidence ahead of this tournament. But bowling against international batsmen is always a different ball game as a bowler's main role in a onedayer is to restrict batsmen, not take wickets,” said Asif.

Of the event itself, he said everything would depend on the match situation.

“We definitely have particular strategies for a few teams and players but it would depend on how far we progress in the tournament.” The quiet Rana, meanwhile, chose to keep his own counsel, merely saying he always tried a bit harder playing in India.

“I am in perfect shape to do it once again,” he added in warning, before genially shaking hands and boarding the team bus.