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HindustanTimes Thu,25 Dec 2014

NZ seek Akram's help to counter Akhtar
Agence France-Presse, PTI
Wellington, December 30, 2003
First Published: 12:33 IST(30/12/2003)
Last Updated: 12:33 IST(30/12/2003)

New Zealand cricket has adopted the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" philosophy, sending an SOS to the great Wasim Akram after being humiliated by the reverse swing of fellow Pakistani Shoaib Akhtar in the seven wicket loss in the second Test which ended here Tuesday.

New coach John Bracewell and captain Stephen Fleming raised the prospect of bringing in the retired Pakistani seamer after Akhtar's devastating match-winning haul of 11 for 78 ensured Pakistan the Test and the two-match series.

Akhtar achieved figures of 17 for 89 from the two Tests against New Zealand, whose batsmen failed to get to grips with his extreme pace and swing.

Input from Akram would be invaluable, Fleming said.

"Why not go to the best, and if we can get him, great," Fleming said.

"Certainly if we can get the best players in the world at that skill, then it'd be great to learn."

New Zealand have some useful exponents of reverse swing to call on, namely injured star Shane Bond and former Test players Danny Morrison and left-armer Geoff Allott.

But Akram is the master, with 414 test wickets and 502 one-day scalps before his retirement this year.

He unwittingly caused a stir in Pakistan last month when Indian media reports said he had been enlisted to help India's bowlers on their tour of Australia.

That came to nothing but Akram didn't rule out helping bowlers from other countries.

Fleming said it was a vexing issue, with only Bond and perhaps Ian Butler providing New Zealand's batsmen with reverse swing workouts.

"We don't get exposed to 150kmh inswingers that often. It's very hard to get facilities to practice that.

"I don't think it was application or commitment that was missing, it came down to skill issue."


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