Shoaib Akhtar to sit out against Bangalore at Eden

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Kolkata, May 7 (UNI) Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar was ruled out of the match against Bangalore Royal Challangers at Eden Gardens tomorrow owing to fitness condition, Kolkata Knight Riders coach John Buchanan said here today.

Akash Chopra for the first time features in the 14-member probable while Pakistan all rounder Mohammad Hafeez, who has been playing all along, was dropped in order to strengthen the batting line up against Rahul Dravid's Royal Challengers.

''Shoaib is very keen to play but his fitness level is not as good as it ought to be for tomorrow's match,'' Buchanan told mediapersons.

Chopra is the only new inclusion in the probables, but his cap in the side is almost certain as skipper Sourav Ganguly wanted a good batting line up, especially after the departure of Brendon McCullum.

Ganguly, while exuding confidence about winning second time against Bangalore, told a news conference that barring Mohali and Jaipur all other teams were very close to each other.

''Chances of making into the last four are still wide open for Kolkata,'' he said.

Asked how he rated Kolkata's chances after four straight losses in six games, Ganguly cited examples of Chennai and Delhi from being at the top of the league table to slipping down and asserted that KKR would return to win. The tournament was still halfway in the eight-team championship.

Ganguly said the T20 format was a different kind of game and needed quick thinking. It also depended on how players handle the pressure.

Asked about any pressure from the franchisee after losing four matches, the former Team India captain said there was always presssure on any type of play--whether in ODIs or this format.

The pressure was referred to after chief executive Charu Sharma quit from Bangalore Royal Challengers following five defeats.

The fourteen probables are Sourav Ganguly (captain) Akash Chopra, Brad Hodge, Salman Butt, David Hussey, Omer Gul, Laxmi Ratan Sukla, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Tatenda Taibu (WK), Murali Kartik, Ishant Sharma, Ashok Dinda, Debobrata Das and Ajit Agarkar.

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