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Akhtar exceptional, says Solanki

England all-rounder Vikram Solanki on Tuesday praised fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar.

india Updated: Dec 11, 2005 09:55 IST

England all-rounder Vikram Solanki on Tuesday praised fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, his Worcestershire county-mate, saying the Pakistan paceman has "exceptional talent."

"Shoaib has exceptional talent and he is a fairly smart cricketer," said Solanki.

Akhtar played a key role in Pakistan's 2-0 victory in the three-Test series against England and grabbed 17 wickets. He mixed his express pace with slower deliveries that baffled England batsmen on Pakistan's slow bouncy wickets.

"He (Akhtar) is a fantastic and exciting cricketer and I watched him on television," said Solanki, who joined the England squad along with all-rounder Ian Blackwell and fast bowler Kabir Ali for the five-match limited overs series against Pakistan, starting from December 10.

Akhtar played for Worcestershire in the English County Championship this season, but its chairman John Elliott was reportedly not happy with the fast bowler's commitment.

"It was unfortunate that those sort of comments were made," Solanki said.

"Shoaib is a very interesting character, quite unique type of a guy and his cricketing abilities were proved in the recent series."

"He has obviously worked hard on his fitness and bowled exceptionally well in the Test series. A change from 90 miles (144 kilometers) an hour to slower deliveries was quite impressive," Solanki said.

First Published: Dec 11, 2005 09:55 IST