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Demand for Shoeb Akhtar's farewell match gathers momentum

Saturday April 16, 2011 08:39:42 PM, IANS

Karachi: Shoaib Akhtar may have fallen out with Pakistan's top cricket officials but the regional cricket associations for whom he has played on the domestic level are pushing for a befitting send-off for the controversial fast bowler.

According to a report, the regional cricket organisations close to Akhtar are planning to hold exhibition matches to give him a grand farewell.

The 'Rawalpindi Express' as he was called had an unceremonious exit after he lost the confidence of the team management, which denied him a chance to play his last match after he announced his retirement from international cricket.

Akhtar, who took 178 wickets in 46 Tests and 247 wickets in 163 ODIs, announced his retirement from international cricket during the World Cup while expressing a desire to play the remaining matches of the tournament. He, however, was dropped citing poor fitness.

According to officials, Akhtar is still ready to come out of retirement to play his swansong match for Pakistan but the team management, which is not happy with the pacer's indiscipline during the World Cup, is unlikely to give him the chance.

The Rawalpindi region, from where the pacer started his domestic career, therefore, is planning to hold an exhibition match to honour him.

"He (Akhtar) has done a great service to Pakistan and deserves a better farewell. We will not let 'Rawalpindi Express' to retire like that," president of Rawalpindi region, Syed Naeem Akhtar, told the Express Tribune Saturday.

The Rawalpindi region chief, who is also a member of the PCB governing body, said plans have already been initiated to hold a colourful exhibition match for Akhtar.

"We would invite national cricketers in the match to bid farewell to the great fast bowler," he said while hinting a match could be organised on sidelines of the National Twenty20 tournament, opening in isalabad June 24.

"The match is not possible in near future due to absence of the national team. It is being planned on sidelines of the T20 tournament when most of the national stars who want to feature in the match would be present."

Meanwhile, the Islamabad region from where Akhtar is currently associated has demanded an international farewell match.

"He is a great cricketer and deserves to play his farewell match for Pakistan," said Islamabad region president Shakil Ahmed Sheikh.

"We have plans to hold exhibition match for Shoaib (Akhtar) but we want to see him playing his last match for Pakistan."

"If teams are not visiting Pakistan, then a match can be arranged in Dubai or he would be given the chance to play in team's forthcoming future series."

A PCB selector supported the idea of holding an exhibition match to honour Akhtar.

"It is a good idea to hold a farewell match for him."






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