Relieved Akhtar arrives in India; says keen to perform in IPL

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New Delhi, May 5 (UNI) A relieved Shoaib Akhtar after arriving here today, thanked Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan for his support and said he was looking forward to putting his skills in to practice for the Kolkata Knight Riders who are not going through a great run at the moment.

''I am happy to be back in India. I really look forward to play in the IPL and play my role for my team," said Akhtar, who landed at around 1600 hrs at the Indira Gandhi International Airport from Lahore.

The Rawalpindi Express also expressed his gratitude towards his Indian fans after a traumatic one month period in which he was banned for five years by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

''I am grateful to the people of India for embracing me, specially (team owner) Shah Rukh Khan who supported me. Eden Gardens is like my home ground. I am looking ahead to be there soon,'' added Akhtar.

The speedster is now free to play in the IPL for a period of one month after his appeal for a temporary stay on the five-year ban was accepted by the Appellate Tribunal.

Akhtar, who leaves for Kolkata by an Indian domestic flight in the evening, admitted that after a long lay-off of four months and will have to train hard to get acclimatise with the conditions.

''I have not played cricket for four months. I have to acclimatise with the conditions and train hard. I want to do my bit for my team,'' he said.

However, the 32-year-old pacer refused to talk about his appeal pending before an Appeallate Tribunal in Pakistan.

''I don't want to talk about the case, it is pending before a tribunal,'' he said.


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