Shoaib will overcome fitness issues in time, says Malik

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Lahore, Jul 20 (UNI) Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik has said Shoaib Akhtar's expected return to the squad for this September's Champions Trophy is good news for the country as the Rawalpindi Express is a ''match-winning'' bowler.

The seamer has been battling with fitness issues lately. However, Malik said Akhtar will regain full fitness ahead of the tournament.

''Shoaib is a great fast bowler and has won many a match for Pakistan in the past,'' Malik said at the National Cricket Academy here, where he with his team mates assembled to give urine samples for dope tests.

''Shoaib has some fitness issues but we are all hopeful that he will overcome them in time to bowl in the Champions Trophy at full throttle.'' Malik pointed out that his team will use next month's one-day series against New Zealand on home soil to warm up for the Champions Trophy.

''The series against New Zealand will help us to get ready for the Champions Trophy. I believe it will be a great opportunity for us to get in the rhythm.'' Pakistan had flopped badly in their last international outing- the Asia Cup - failing to reach the final of the six-nation event on their home ground.

Malik, however, refused to dwell on the past and said his team will perform well in the Champions Trophy.

''Asia Cup was a disappointment for all of us but it is behind us now,'' Malik adding ''We are now focused on the Champions Trophy and are confident of producing better results in it.'' UNI XC CS AB KP1702

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