Shoaib Akhtar, the controversial and injury-prone Pakistan fast bowler, has not given up hope of making an international comeback, assuring that his form and fitness in the ongoing RBS Pentangular one-day tournament in Karachi has been up to the mark. Shoaib was speaking after taking a match-winning 6 for 52 to guide Federal Areas Leopards to a convincing win against Khyber-Pakthunkhwa Panthers.
Shoaib last played for Pakistan during the limited-overs series against Australia in the UAE last year. He was omitted for the ICC World Twenty20 in the West Indies later this month and got in trouble with the PCB for violating the terms of his central contract.
"I am fit and bowling in rhythm," Shoaib said. "I don't want to live in the past. Now I am fit and playing and have proved my fitness. My performance has never been in doubt, so it's now up to the selectors when they give me a chance."
Mohsin Khan, Pakistan's chief selector, said Shoaib could be considered for the trip to England if he continues to perform. "If he continues to play well regularly at the domestic and club level, and proves his fitness and form, he could be considered for the English tour," Mohsin said. "We have not written him off completely. He should be grateful to the Pakistan Cricket Board that it has given him a chance to win back his place in the national team."
Shoaib attributed the below-par performances in his past few series to a persistent knee problem, which has been corrected through surgery. Also, the rise of Mohammad Aamer and the return of Mohammad Asif have pushed him further out of national reckoning. He has not played a Test for Pakistan since December 2007.
"I have experience which is precious and my competition is only with myself," Akhtar said. "I know I have suffered fitness problems but all fast bowlers suffer with that. I am still focused and want to play for Pakistan and finish on a high."
His first target is to get selected for the "home" series against Australia in England this summer, but his ultimate goal is to make it to the World Cup next year and hopefully play a big role in seeing his team go all the way.
"I know the problems I have faced in my career, but the dream to feature in the final of the 2011 World Cup in Mumbai is still alive and I want to help Pakistan win the World Cup in a year's time."