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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pakistan's Akhtar should be a drawcard in NZ

Just what New Zealand Cricket didn't need.
Fresh names of Pakistan players allegedly involved in spot-fixing have been aired on Pakistani TV news channel Geo just a couple of weeks before world cricket's bad boys head to New Zealand.
Previously unseen video footage of Mazhar Majeed, the player agent allegedly at the centre of the spot-fixing scandal, was shown in Pakistan yesterday in which he takes the names of four more players who, he claims, work with him.
The footage takes place in Majeed's house, where he is talking to a reporter with a hidden camera who asks him about the players who work with him.
"I'll tell you who we've got then. We've got Umar Akmal, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif, Salman Butt, Wahab Riaz ... that's six, yeah? Imran Farhat ... that's seven out of 11 players," Majeed says.
According to the Cricinfo report, Majeed goes on to explain how he targets younger players in particular.
"It's long-term thinking. These boys are going to be around for years and I've got the best boys."
Senior players such as Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq and Saeed Ajmal, he says, do not interest him because they only have a few years left. Ajmal, he says, is "too religious".
If Pakistan are still your cup of tea, there were a couple of lumps of sugar thrown in with the announcement of their team to tour New Zealand.
First is the inclusion of Shoaib Akhtar in their Twenty20 squad and second is the naming of another Akmal brother for both the Twenty20 and two test series.
Akhtar's involvement will be celebrated by New Zealand Cricket, as they now have a name to pin their promotion on.
But the country's top batsmen might not be so happy because the 35-year-old still has a quick delivery up his sleeve in between all the sideshows that occur when he has the ball in hand.
Akhtar still hit good speeds over the winter when playing for Pakistan in England even if the mantle of world's fastest bowler is now shared between South Africa's Dale Steyn and maybe Kemar Roach from the West Indies.
Two Akmals are coming to New Zealand, Umar and the middle brother Adnan, who keeps wickets and played two recent tests against South Africa.
Afridi will lead the Twenty20 team while Misbah-ul-Haq was retained as test captain.
Pakistan begins the international side of their tour with the first of three Twenty20 matches at Eden Park on Boxing Day. They play two tests – Hamilton and Wellington – and six one-day internationals. A separate one-day squad will be announced later.
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