Patriotism or foolhardiness: Pak media debates on Shaoib inclusion

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Lahore, Dec 1 (UNI) Maverick fast bowler Shaoib Akhtar's inclusion for the Eden Gardens Test has been criticised by Pakistani media as an act of 'foolhardiness' on the part of Pakistan team management.

With the headline 'Pakistan add inaptitute to injury', The News reported ''The decision to play Shoaib Akhtar -- flying in the face of common sense and, presumably, medical advice, given that he had been in hospital receiving antibiotics via an intravenous drip since Tuesday evening -- was foolhardy rather than brave''.

''Sure, Shoaib looked the only bowler likely to get a wicket in Delhi and might have been desperately keen to play, but if teams were merely decided on who was keenest to play, there would be no need for selectors,'' it said.

An 'unfit' Akhtar returned with 9-1-29-0 at the end of the first day and the newspaper said ''In all honesty he should pass a large chunk of his match fees to Sohail Tanvir and Danish Kaneria.'' Former cricketer and now commentator Ramiz Raja in his column in Daily Times also questioned Akhtar's inclusion as ''he (Akhtar) looked unfit and out-of-sorts''.

''His (Akhtar's) presence did more harm than good because Pakistan lost a bowling option and the captain's attention also got diverted for he had to nurse him at the expense of other important things,'' Ramiz wrote.

''I think Pakistan were expecting Younis Khan to win the toss and bat so that Shoaib could spend the day in the comfort of the dressing room and recover. But cricket is seldom played that way and it was a huge gamble that backfired,'' he added.

Ramiz also took potshots at Pakistan team playing football after losing the first Test in New Delhi, in which captain Shoaib Malik was injured.

''What a crazy idea, especially when the team required extra net sessions with cricket loaded activities after their early exit on day five in the first Test.

Newspaper Dawn, however, reported Shoaib agreeing to play despite his illness as an acto patriotism.

Headlined 'Shoaib's act of patriotism', Dawn said Shoaib volunteered to play the Test because the match could decide the series.

''At the team meeting last night I took the decision to play since this is a do-or-die Test for us,'' the newspaper quoted Akhtar as saying.

Akhtar said it was a dilemma for him because people would have doubted his commitment in both the cases.

''Had I not played the Test, people would have doubted my commitment and now I have played despite not being fully recovered, people would still point a finger at me,'' the fast bowler said.

''I have played for the sake of my team and country in a hope to avoid defeat in this Test and not to lose the series here. I couldn't bowl at my best because of the after effects of illness, but there is no help for the seam bowlers in the pitch.'' The ''Rawalpindi Express'' said Pakistan batsmen will have to bat out of their skins to save this match as cracks have already surfaced at the square.

''We have to save this Test and then play to our best ability in the last Test to square the series. We have the potential to do that and I am hopeful that our batsmen will play up to their potential,'' Akhtar added.

UNI

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