Lahore, Nov 25 : Pakistan cricket coach Intikhab Alam has reportedly backed fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar to play a crucial role in the home series against India in January, saying he still had a few years of international cricket left in him.
Shoaib returned to the Pakistan squad for the series against West Indies in Abu Dhabi but missed all three ODIs due to a calf strain.
"Shoaib can play a very important role against India and we will be relying on him to deliver the goods with experience and pace. I don't think he is finished. If nursed properly and if he takes care of himself, Shoaib can do more for Pakistan than he has done in recent times," the Daily Times quoted Alam as saying.
Shoaib's appearances for Pakistan have been sporadic of late due to injury and disciplinary issues, but Intikhab said that Shoaib was "working his way back" through a rigorous rehabilitation programme under the supervision of David Dwyer, the Pakistan trainer.
"He is working very hard and doing what he has been asked to do to lose weight, become fitter and sharper, "Intikhab said and added: "He was fit for the final match in Abu Dhabi but we decided to not risk him on the advice of the trainer."
Intikhab said that looking ahead to Pakistan's first Test series in more than a year, all the players had been given individual programmes to get themselves fit.