Shoaib's best ever show

HE termed the Peshawar wicket dead. He complained about hot weather, but in the end managed to bowl his best in 27 matches and cross the 100-wicket mark in Tests.

Shoaib Akhtar, the Rawalpindi Express, enjoyed century-maker Javed Omar's wicket most out of his 10 scalps. "He was threatening and I think Javed's wicket was my best in this Test," said a beaming Shoaib.

From the way Shoaib bowled too many short deliveries early in the Test match, it looked as if Bangladesh would post a daunting total. But soon the Rawalpindi Express was on track on the second day and bowled with total command to restrict Bangladesh. Akhtar was bowling for Durham under cool conditions, and was "loaned" for the first two Tests.

"It was hard to bowl under these conditions. The weather is too hot for my type of bowlers," Shoaib said. "But more importantly the wicket is dead. There is absolutely nothing in it for fast bowlers. I took all the wickets through sheer pace and it has nothing to do with the wicket," he added.

Shoaib became the 11th Pakistani to have a century of wickets in Tests. "I am not after records. What I am more interested in is that the team should win and if I can contribute to the team's success I will be more than happy."

Shoaib was confident that he would put the brakes on Bangladesh's progress even though the visitors were cruising in the first innings at 310 for two before sliding to 361 all out. Shoaib claimed six wickets in 21 deliveries for just 11 runs. "I always bowl three to four-overs spells (like the way I did on this dead track) against any opposition and have got success in the past," he said.

Although Pakistan conceded a lead of 66 runs, it was Shoaib's early breakthroughs (wickets of Javed Omar and Hannan Sarkar) in the second innings which helped Pakistan bundle out Bangladesh for 96. Now after this superb performance, Shoaib will not be available for the third Test as he has to fulfil his duties with English county Durham. "I am a third party in this issue. It's the Pakistan Cricket Board which has commitment with Durham, so I have to go." But it looks strange that instead of fulfilling national duty, the PCB has allowed Shoaib to play for Durham?