Karachi:Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik toned down his criticism of pacer Shoaib Akhtar on the eve of the third and final one-dayer against Sri Lanka on Saturday claiming his statement was directed towards all the players in the national team and not any individual.
"Look I didn't take any players name. I did say that, whoever the player whether me or someone else, Pakistan is above everything," Malik told reporters in Lahore on Friday.
"I said the players who can't field for 50 overs, whoever it may be, doesn't deserve a place a team," he added.
Malik insisted that he never became personal against anyone and had not targeted struggling Akhtar at all.
"Look the bottom line is I don't take selection and team decisions, there are others involved. I have a lot of regard for Shoaib Akhtar. He is the same bowler who got out teams in one or two spells.
"But there is no doubt that he has lacked rhythm in the first two matches as he was out of the game for nearly a year," Malik said.
The Pakistan skipper had surprised everyone when he criticised Akhtar's fitness and on-field commitment after the second ODI here as the pacer managed only one wicket for 88 runs in the first two matches.
Malik had put a big question mark on Akhtar's career and sources in the team said he had been advised by coach Intikhab Alam and manager Yawar Saeed to avoid such direct attacks on any player in future.
"Malik has been told that everyone was disappointed with Akhtar and if he wants to drop him, he should do that but not go public with his feelings about the controversial pacer," one source said.
He said in all probability Akhtar would not make the final eleven for Saturday's third and final ODI.