Shoaib Akhtar visits Haji Ali ahead of IPL players bid

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Mumbai, Feb 18 (UNI) Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Akhtar visited the internationally famous Haji Ali shrine here, this afternoon, and offered special prayer for the victory of his team and his country.

Akhtar, who was wearing a black T-shirt and jeans, was accompanied by some of his friends. The shrine which is in the middle of the sea, saw Akhtar, also known as the 'Rawalpindi Express', walking the distance to the shrine after getting down from his car.

He offered prayers there and later while talking to mediapersons waiting out side the shrine, said he had prayed for his country as well as for his team.

Shoaib Akhtar is in the city to take part in bidding for players for the DLF Indian Premier League Twenty20 championship, which will take place here on February 20.

Shoaib has come here two days before the actual bidding takes place to hold talks with franchises, ahead of the bid process, which he will also attend.

He stated ''My commitment to the DLF IPL is absolute. There is a lot of talk flying around players at the moment regarding the new Twenty20 competitions. I have signed with the DLF IPL and I am excited about the upcoming bid process and also finding out which franchise I will play for.'' The Pakistani pacer stated, ''I cannot wait to be allocated to a city and franchise. My contract with them will be a three year deal initially, so I am in it for the long haul. I cannot wait to interact with the local fan base and become one of their 'own' players.'' He added, ''If I am able to win even a fraction of the 'love' the Indian people have for their players it will be amazing. And I will be giving everything I can to try and achieve that for the next three years and hopefully beyond.'' UNI AAA/GS SR AB KN1645

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