Shoaib joggles to get on track

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> He is fast, he is furious and undoubtedly the bad boy of international cricket for last many years.

Updated: November 02, 2007 15:24 IST
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New Delhi:

He is fast, he is furious and undoubtedly the bad boy of international cricket for last many years.

When Shoaib Akhtar lands in India next week, he will be making one of the most awaited comebacks in the game. And, hopefully, this time around, he wouldn't fly out of the country without playing a single match, just like he did in the Champions Trophy last year.

Shoaib Akhtar's first and till date, the last Test match on the Indian soil at Kolkata in 1999 was full of twists and turns.

The Rawalpindi Express was also making his Test debut versus India in this match. He made it a memorable one by first removing Rahul Dravid for a duck and then cleaning up Tendulkar off the very next ball.

Shoaib never toured India with a test team again. But, there were interesting battles fought on the Pakistani soil. Tendulkar was his target number one and so shall it remain when Shoaib lands in India next month.

"It could be my last tour to India. I am 32 now and I don't think I will have an opportunity to go back to India after four years. It is going to be my last tour and I will make it memorable for myself. Repeat the history, whatever I got from India, bowling Sachin out on the first ball. I want to claim my memories again and perform well again," said Shoaib Akhtar, member, Pakistan Cricket Team.

Perhaps there is an unfinished business to complete. The very fact that he hasn't troubled the Indians much in the past could irk Shoaib a bit. He's got just 19 wickets from 7 Tests versus India, with not even a single five-wicket haul.

However, Shoaib did manage taking eight scalps in the first test he played against the hosts in 1999.

Shoaib's blistering pace has, at times, made things easier for the Indian batsmen. And on certain occasions, spelled doom for the men in blue.

However, as statistics prove, just like in the Tests, there is no fear factor involved when the Indians face him in the shorter format of the game as well.

In 23 one-day internationals against India, Shoaib has managed just 34 wickets with a best of four for 36.

Seven of those wickets have come in the four one-day internationals versus India in India. He can improve on the upcoming five match ODI series next month.

However, the biggest task in front of Shoaib would not just be taking wickets on the tour of India but also avoiding injuries and dressing room controversies.

The most senior bowler in the Pakistan team has in fact played only one test and four one-dayers since February 2006 due to fitness problems and disciplinary issues.

So, the stage is all set for the mother of all battles. Forget Andrew Symonds' verbal banter, the next few weeks will see Shoaib Akhtar taking on the likes of MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar on their home turf.

Winter is setting in but expect a lot of heat when the PIA flight lands in New Delhi on the 1st of November.

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