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It's a bowlers' game, says Akhtar

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Shoaib Akhtar fully fit.
Shoaib Akhtar fully fit.

Special Correspondent

Shahid Afridi, the dashing batsman, is raring to get into action

NEW DELHI: Pakistan's pace spearhead Shoaib Akhtar maintains that cricket is a bowlers' game.

"After all, bowlers win matches," said Akhtar, whose recently acquired accent was hard to miss at a media session here on Monday.

He substantiated his argument and said, "People in the sub-continent particularly love pace bowlers and this is what I told Shane Bond when I met him just a little while ago.

"I think it is good for the game that Bond, Brett Lee and I will be bowling for the first time in this competition," said Shoaib and added that he was fully fit.

When asked about how he rated himself as compared to Bond and Lee, Shoaib said in a jocular vein, "Where is the comparison? I am the fastest."

On a more serious note, Shoaib said, "I don't always try to get my wickets through pace. I make a plan for every batsman. I bring in variation in line and length and sometimes, it is the change of pace. I'd rather take two wickets and help Pakistan win than claim five wickets and end up losing."

Dashing batsman Shahid Afridi was the other Pakistani star raring to get into action. "I have to get back my form and I am looking forward to doing well in India again," he said.

Afridi was candid in saying that he would have preferred a regular batting position in the line-up. "Barring number 11, I think I've batted at every number. Lately, I've been asked to bat at number six. I would prefer to bat higher provided I'm told about it at least a day before the game."

While skipper Younis Khan and coach Bob Woolmer reiterated Pakistan's spirited approach to the game, bowling coach Waqar Younis pitched in on what he was looking to contribute to the team and giving back to the game he played for 20 years.

"With the game increasingly benefiting the batsmen, the bowlers can only hope and try. My role is to keep the boys focussed on the job."

When pressed for his views on Irfan Pathan, Younis said, "The attempt to make a batsman out of Irfan is unnecessary. There is no harm in grooming him as an all-rounder but making him bat at number three time and again is certainly too much."

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