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September 11, 2002 | 1325 IST

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Shoaib wants to swap pace for wickets

N. Ananthanarayanan

Pakistan tearaway paceman Shoaib Akhtar says he has had enough of chasing speed records and now wants to get down to doing his main job of taking wickets consistently.

"Basically, I am no longer interested in bowling faster," the player dubbed the "Rawalpindi Express" said on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old along with Australia's Brett Lee are currently regarded the fastest bowlers in the world and will aim to make their impact on the ICC Champions Trophy.

Pakistan meet hosts Sri Lanka in the tournament's opening game on Thursday.

Shoaib said: "It is more important to win matches. I am just here to play the game, not to prove how fast I am. Now I need to focus on how well to manage myself."

The comments mark a huge change in attitude for the well-built fast bowler, who has strained every bit to bowl deliveries over 160 kph.

"I have already crossed 100 miles, whether it is accepted or not," he said. "Everybody knows how fast I am."

The bowler was clocked at 161 kph, during a one-dayer against New Zealand in Lahore in April but as such feats are not officially monitored, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has said they must remain unofficial.

Shoaib had been competing with Lee to reach the 100 mph landmark. Lee was clocked at 99.4 mph in South Africa this year, just under the second fastest delivery of 99.8 clocked by Australia's Jeff Thomson in 1976.

A good-class pace bowler would be looking to average around the 85 mph mark.

Shoaib said he was determined to re-focus his career after several interruptions due to injuries and questions about his bowling action.

The paceman is joint third with Australia's Dennis Lillee and Shane Warne on 60 games in a list of the fastest to take 100 one-day wickets. That list is headed by his compatriots Saqlain Mushtaq (53 games) and skipper Waqar Younis (59).

Besides his 114 scalps from 68 one-day games, he has also claimed 69 wickets from 21 Tests.

But Shoaib still indicated his passion for pace will never die. "I can bowl faster than I have," he said.

Mail Cricket Editor

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