Colombo, March 17 (IANS) Enigmatic Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar will retire from international cricket after the ongoing World Cup.
Team manager Intikhab Alam, a former Pakistan captain, told IANS that Akhtar has made up his mind to quit cricket after the World Cup and will make a formal announcement regarding his retirement at a press conference later.
“Yes, I can confirm that Shoaib (Akhtar) will be retiring after this tournament,” said Intikhab.
Akhtar, 35, did join his teammates at a training session here at the R Premadasa Stadium Thursday morning. Before the training session got underway, Akhtar made a brief speech in the dressing room and was later embraced by his team mates and officials before the players started walking into the field for training.
On the request of a photographer, he and captain Shahid Afridi embraced each other on the sidelines.
Wearing dark shades and with a serious look on his face, Akhtar took an active part in the training session and, according to team officials, was available for selection for Pakistan’s World Cup match against Australia here Saturday.
Akhtar, who has 178 Test and 247 One-day International wickets, has a chequered international career. His die-hard fans will remember the pacer for his furious speed and genuine wicket-taking abilities. His critics will remember him for his poor disciplinary record as he is easily the most banned and fined player in the history of Pakistan cricket.
Akhtar made his international debut against West Indies in hometown Rawalpindi in 1997. He shot to international fame with his excellent showing in the Asian Test Championship in 1999 and later in the World Cup in England.
Over the years he was banned or fined for offences like chucking, ball tampering and doping. He was banned for five years for hitting his teammate Mohammad Asif during the 2007 World Twenty20 championship in South Africa.
Akhtar was a surprise inclusion in Pakistan’s 15-man World Cup squad though he almost justified his selection with an excellent spell in Pakistan’s 11-run win over co-hosts Sri Lanka in Colombo last month.
But a few days later, he was smashed for 28 runs in one over by New Zealand’s Ross Taylor after which Akhtar was dropped for the match against Zimbabwe.