Shoaib Akhtar went to India with a multi-purpose agenda, which looked like:
- Take lots of wickets and win matches for Pakistan.
- Improve image in the public eye. Shed 'Bad Boy' label.
- Gain respect of the PCB, the captain, the other players and show 100% commitment to Pakistan cricket.
- Sign a Bollywood movie.
Besides the first point on the agenda, Akhtar managed to do everything else. His PR manager made sure that he clicks him at the right moments to promote an image of a team man enjoying his cricket. Akhtar ensured that he played every test despite not being fully fit so that no one doubts his commitment. And he also signed a bollywood movie for a rumoured Rs. 8 Crores (more than what Shahrukh and Aamir Khan make!).
Had he not played the 2nd or the 3rd test due to his chest infection or back injury, everyone would have criticized him for not being committed. When he played and broke down everyone criticized his decision to play. Akhtar was in a catch 22 situation and I believe he made the right decision.
A half fit Shoaib Akhtar was a better bowler than the rest of the Pakistan attack put together! Only Kaneria took more wickets than him, only Arafat (who played 1 test) had a better average and strike rate than him, and no other bowler threatened the Indian batsmen the way Akhtar did. He ever performed better than the Indian pacers Zaheer and Munaf. The figures speak for themselves. So who would you have in the test team? A half fit Akhtar or a fully fit Tanvir or Sami or Rao?