Akhtar''s form worries Pak coach Waqar

Dhaka, Feb 16 (PTI) Pakistan coach Waqar Younis hasexpressed concerns over the poor form of fast bowler ShoaibAkhtar ahead of the ICC World Cup but hoped the speedster willget match-fit to deliver the goods for his team in theshowpiece event.

"Shoaib is not looking in touch at the moment. At themoment, we have a slight problem with the new ball, but thereis still some time to go," said Waqar, ahead of Pakistan''slast practice match against England on Friday.

Pakistan starts their World Cup campaign against Kenya inSri Lanka on February 23.

Akhtar had not bowled in yesterday''s warm-up matchagainst co-hosts Bangladesh at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium inDhaka, which Pakistan won by 89 runs.

Waqar, however, exuded confidence that Akhtar will provehis worth as Pakistan''s leading pace spearhead in the warm-upmatch against England.

"If he gets it right against England in the next game, heis obviously our number one choice. We are confident he willperform," said Waqar, a veteran of 87 Tests and 262 ODIs.

The fast bowling great said he and the team''s bowlingcoach Aaqib Javed are paying special attention to the35-year-old Akhtar''s fitness.

"Shoaib played in New Zealand where he improved inpatches. We are trying to work with him. Aaqib Javed andmyself, we are working with him, trying to get his rhythmright before the tournament starts," said Waqar.

Pakistan team manager Intikhab Alam also said that even ahalf-fit Akhtar would be a handful for opponents during theWorld Cup.

"Shoaib is not 100 per cent fit, but even a half-fitAkhtar can lift Pakistan to glory," the former leg-spinnersaid.

"He needs to be utilised carefully to get the best out ofhim. A lot could depend on the weather, heat, humidity as tohow Shoaib is utilised by the skipper," said Alam, who was thecoach of 1992 World Cup winning Pakistan team.

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