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ICC Champions Trophy
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September 18, 2002
2345 IST

Pool A:
Aus | Ban | NZ

Pool B:
Ind | Eng | Zim

Pool C:
Ken | SA | WI

Pool D:
Ned | Pak | SL

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Shoaib Akhtar eyes
Pakistan captaincy

Faisal Shariff in Colombo

With the crisis in Pakistan cricket deepening everyday, ace pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar has staked his claim for the captaincy of the team.

Speaking to he said, "It [the captaincy] will come to me. I know that I am capable of being captain of the Pakistan team."

He, however, stated he has no intention of "running for it".

"Whenever the captaincy comes to me, in one year's time or six months, I want to be in control of the team. I want to serve the country and make sure that I leave my name in the book of history forever."

Having mellowed over the years, Akhtar said he does not want to merely be a great bowler or a selfish captain, but a great servant of the country.

"I will prove that I am a great leader of men when the time comes. Let us have a toss first then I will show whether I will bat first or bowl first. I don't know right now," he said.

Two years ago, Akhtar had, in an interview with, called himself a wild horse.

"I'm not a wild horse anymore. I am wise now. I am a good boy. Those who know me as a person know that I am a simple guy. It is hard to promote myself as a good guy on the television or on paper. I just want to lead my life just by myself instead of running after newspapers and convincing them that I am a nice guy."

Contending that the race with Brett Lee for the title of fastest bowler is over, Akhtar said he has already proved himself as the fastest in the world.

"I bowled the fastest ball against New Zealand in Pakistan and proved to everyone that I am the best. In 1999 I was the fastest bowler; Brett Lee was nowhere near my pace."

He, however, hastened to add that he wants to be the greatest bowler and not the fastest, and wants to be remembered as a bowler who was known to have a clever head and a brave heart.

He described most of the greatest cricketers as "mad". The reasoning being they don't see situations and instead play their game with guts.

"When you are more than brave you are mad. Sir Viv Richards was mad when he went out to bat without wearing a helmet and hooked bowlers hurling the ball at 100 miles at him. But there is cleverness behind the madness."

Despite the dismal performance in the Champions Trophy, Akhtar claimed that Pakistan is the most talented side in world cricket.

He pointed out that Pakistan played Australia on their home soil early this year at only half of their capability and still crushed them.

"I was in the right rhythm and I think we exposed the Australian batting that day."

He further pointed towards a weak link in the Australian batting.

"If you get the top-order out early, then you get through the whole team. You can get them out for small totals."

He argued that if Pakistan plays to its full potential it could "beat Australia anytime, any place", adding "the Australians know that too".

With a spate of cancelled tours to Pakistan, the average Pakistani cricketer seems to be struggling. Akhtar appealed to the cricket world and asked them to come to Pakistan to play the game.

"It is not good for the game. Pakistan is safe. I think that the people should come and help us out for the sake of the game not for the sake of the money or television rights. I think things will be much better in a couple of days time."

With Waqar Younis reappointed captain for the Australian Test series, Akhtar might have to wait a while before his dream of leading the national side is realised.


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