Shoaib Akhtar

Unpredictability is as asset for a fast-bowler: the sudden rearing of a bouncer from the good-length spot, say, or a delivery that swings in and then straightens. Shoaib Akhtar had those in plenty, but in his avatar as an expert, comes across as a dispenser of reason—note his calling out of former teammates for mistreating Danish Kaneria. His sudden assertion, then, that had he been PM, he “will eat grass”, but still increase the army’s budget (ostensibly to get parity with India), has to be seen as an eruption of his hot onfield antics. Did uniformed Rawalpindi applaud the Pindi Express on this echo of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto? But, in his statement that he turned down a county stint so as to fight the Kargil War, Shoaib oversteps his mark. We want a free hit.

Shoaib Akhtar and Amitabh Bachchan while analysing the India-Pakistan world cup cricket match in Star Sports Mumbai studio.

PTI Photo

Illustration by Sorit

Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Akhtar with Pakistan High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik releasing his book at a function in New Delhi.

PTI Photo/Subhav Shukla

Cricket fans perform a ritual with duplicates of Sachin Tendulkar and Shoaib Akhtar, for Team India's win in the CWC semifinal match against Pakistan, at Hatkeswer temple in Ahmedabad.

PTI Photo

Rider Khan Shahrukh Khan hugs Shoaib Akhtar after a KKR win


Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar walks to his run up during the fifth one day international cricket match against England at the Rose Bowl, Southampton, England. There seems no respite for the Pakistan cricket team here as after facing spot-fixing allegations, temperamental fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has landed the scandal-hit side in the middle of a ball-tampering controversy.

AP Photo/Tom Hevezi

* Rawalpindi Express Shoaib Akhtar claims he refused to accept a briefcase full of money to perform badly during a tour to India in 2007.
* Shoaib Akhtar hits Mohammed Asif with a bat during a dressing room spat at the T20 World Cup in South Africa, is sent back midway to Pakistan as punishment.

Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar, left, celebrates the dismissal of Sri Lanka's Upul Tharanga, as Pakistan's wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal looks on during their opening Asia Cup cricket match in Dambulla, Sri Lanka.

AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena

Salman Khan and Shoaib Akhtar share a moment during the presentation ceremony at the celebrity cricket match in Dubai.

AP Photo

So can the IPL team owners enter the dressing rooms of teams owned by them or not? Quite a storm in a tea-cup was caused by Shah Rukh Khan being barred by by the Anti Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) officials of the International Cricket Council (ICC) from going to the team dug out and dressing room in the remaining IPL matches. ICC on its part appeared surprised and said that since the IPL tournament was being played under BCCI's rules and regulations, the game's governing body did not have any role in formulating the rules. Eventually, IPL's IPL Chairman and Commissioner Lalit Modi had to step in to announce that the organisers would issue an all-area accreditation badge to one member of each of the eight team franchisees. The IPL is conducted as per the rules and regulations of the ICC whose ACU officials were just doing the job entrusted," Modi said."They go strictly by the colour code. A red badge issued by the ACU, on approval of the team manager, will help the person holding it access to all areas," he said. "This is what we intend to do by giving each of the team owners one such badge each. They do have the right to sit with the players in the dug outs and dressing rooms...We had already provided such badges to Preity Zinta (owner of Punjab King's XI) and Vijay Mallya (owner of Bangalore's Royal Challengers) as we had received such a request from them in advance," Modi explained. "The team owners have the right to be with the team at all times. They are very much part of the team's strategies," he added. We are sure SRK would be pleased, though his team is fighting hard for a place in the semi-finals.

PTI Photo/Ashok Bhaumik

Pakistan's World Cup campaign suffered a body blow with pace spearheads Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif being ruled out due to "injuries" in the backdrop of the duo having failed dope tests. Chief selector Wasim Bari said that medical reports from London had shown that both the bowlers needed another two to three weeks to recover from a knee and elbow problem. Shoaib and Asif are currently undergoing treatment for their injuries but there's no news yet on the scheduled dope tests that were to be conducted on the pacers. The announcement came just hours after the International Cricket Council issued a statement on the doping issue which said the Shoaib and Asif dope fiasco in the Champions Trophy had been an embarrassment for the sport and teams would be subjected to target tests in the mega event.

AP File

Wednesday 1 November
Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar leaves the Pakistan Cricket Board head office after facing the three-member Anti-Doping Tribunal in Lahore. The tribunal has banned the 31 year-old 'Rawalpindi Express' from all international and domestic cricket for two years for using Nandrolone, a banned steroid. Fellow fast bowler, Mohammed Asif, 23, is also banned for one year for the same offence. The ban means the two fast bowlers would not be able to play in the World Cup to be held in the Caribbean in March-April. Shoaib and Asif tested positive last month in an internal dope test conducted by the PCB in the lead-up to the Champions Trophy in India, and the duo were immediately withdrawn from the biennial event. Both the bowlers faced a two-year ban under International Cricket Council (ICC) anti-doping regulations, but since they tested positive out of competition, the tribunal had the authority to reduce the length of the suspension, which was done in the case of Asif.

AP Photo/K M Chaudary

Monday 16 October
Only a day before playing their first match in the ICC Champions Trophy 2006, Pakistan cricket was rocked by a sensational dope scandal involving pace spearheads Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif who will not only miss the ongoing tournament but also run the risk of being banned for up to two years. Pakistan team manager Talat Ali has announced that both players tested positive for anabolic steroid nandrolone in an internal test conducted by Pakistan Cricket Board last month and have been withdrawn from the Champions Trophy. The Rawalpindi Express has claimed that he is innocent and that he had never knowingly taken any performance-enhancing drug, saying "the President of Pakistan has asked me not to comment in any detail at this stage and I want to respect his wishes". The latest incident has brought more embarrassment for Pakistan as it comes close on the heels of the ball-tampering row, the captaincy controversy and the sudden change of guard at PCB. This is also the second major dope scandal to hit international cricket after Australian spin great Shane Warne was tested positive for a diuretic just before the start of the 2003 World Cup.

AP File