Akhtar hits back to Imran, says can't win matches alone

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London, Dec 13 (UNI) Maverick Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has hit back at former captain Imran Khan for singling him out for the 0-1 away series loss to India, the first time in 28 years.

Imran had told an Indian news channel that the result could easily have been 3-0 in Pakistan's favour if Akhtar had ''applied'' himself. Akhtar retaliated saying he could not win Test matches on his own if not supported by his fellow bowlers.

''Imran Khan, who is a man and former player I admire and respect greatly, singled me out in his television analysis and said I should be disappointed with myself.

I realise he was being kind in saying I am a matchwinner, but I can't win Test matches on my own,'' the 'Rawalpindi Express' wrote in his diary on bigstarcricket.com.

''It's disappointing to have lost the Test series in India but the bottom line is that we didn't have enough pace in our bowling, there was no one there to back me up,'' he wrote.

Akhtar felt the absence of Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul, out with elbow and back injuries respectively, seriously hampered their chances.

''When I built up pressure we weren't able to maintain that pressure on the Indian batsmen. I'm not blaming my team-mates -- if Sami had been around with me, Asif and Gul the series would definitely have turned out differently.

We cannot expect too much from the inexperienced guys at this level. It stands to reason that any team is going to miss players like Umar Gul and Mohammad Asif.

''Imran had players like (Abdul) Qadir and Wasim (Akram) to back him up or Sarfraz before those days.'' Akhtar struggled with injuries and illness throughout the Indian tour, though he completed a rare full Test series ending with nine wickets at 33.11. He took six wickets in New Delhi and two in Kolkata, where he ill -advisedly played with a chest infection.

Then, having bowled ten overs on the first morning at Bangalore, he was taken to hospital for an MRI scan after suffering back pain.

The scan revealed no injury but Akhtar did not bowl again in the first innings. He bowled later in the match but did not look fully fit.

There was little else to speak of his fellow pacers, bar replacement Yasir Arafat's five-wicket haul on debut in the final Test in Bangalore.

Mohammad Sami, Shoaib's new-ball partner, went wicketless in the first two matches.

''There are always people who will criticise me whatever I do but hopefully the fact I played the whole series will silence a few of my doubters,'' Akhtar said.

UNI

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