Akhtar, the whimsical


Can a dog’s tail be straightened?  Seems so.  And Shoaib Akhtar can point to his performance in the series against England to back him up.  He took 17 wickets in 3 Tests at an average of ~24 and a strike rate of ~41 balls, and helped engineer the two batting collapses that won Pakistan the three-match series 2-0.  Is this a new Shoaib?  Woolmer vouches that his attitude, behavior, commitment and fitness have undergone a face-lift.  Looks like he’s finally got his priorities in order.  His doggedness to dig it in and spend time at the crease with the bat has revealed his thought-process and adds credibility to the remarkable turn-around.  Can Akhtar maintain it though?

I have always considered Akhtar to be an over-rated showpony, and didn’t quite understand what others (revered cricket writers such as Peter Roebuck included) saw in him.  I was shocked that he was picked to play for the ICC World XI.  But perhaps Shoaib is finally fulfilling his destiny.  And cricket is all the more richer for it.  Few sights in cricket are as great as a fast bowler knocking timber out of the ground, and Shoaib promises a lot of it in the years to come.

I think, of late, India’s been playing Pakistan a little too often for my taste.  But with a reinforced Pakistan side and a new-look Indian team, the upcoming Indian tour to Pakistan seems like a different contest altogether.  Pakistan will find India a lot tougher in the ODIs, and India won’t see Pakistan rolling over in the Test matches.  I lick my lips in delight and anticipation of seeing the vaunted Indian batting order square up to the new Akhtar.


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