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Sri Lanka back banned Pakistan fast bowler Akhtar

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    Sri Lanka back banned Pakistan fast bowler Akhtar

    KARACHI (Reuters) - Sri Lanka have thrown their weight behind Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar, saying they wanted to face the fast bowler, who has been banned from tests, in the forthcoming series.

    "We want him to play against us. In fact we want Pakistan to field the strongest possible team because that would help us judge where we stand," Sri Lanka's Australian coach Dav Whatmore told a news conference hours after arriving in Karachi.

    Sri Lanka begin a tour, which includes three tests, with the first of three one-day internationals in Karachi on Sunday.

    Akhtar was banned in December by the International Cricket Council (ICC) because of a suspect bowling action but ICC president Jaghmohan Dalmiya reversed the decision and allowed him to play in a triangular one-day series won by Australia.

    But the ban still applies to test cricket and on Monday Dalmiya said the ICC, at its executive board meeting in Singapore on Wednesday and Thursday, would discuss only the procedure by which Akhtar was banned and not his bowling action.

    Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) operations director Yawar Saeed said from Lahore that the PCB would still try to have the test ban overthrown.

    "The chairman (Tauqir Zia) has left for Singapore and he is fully equipped to get Akhtar cleared for the test series," Saeed said.

    But coach Intikhab Alam was bitter.

    "How can the ICC announce its decision to ban Akhtar from test cricket when they haven't reviewed the case?" he said.

    "In Australia he bowled with a new action. The ICC advisory panel needs to look at the fresh videos before passing judgment."

    Akhtar was permitted to play in the one-day matches because bouncers, the delivery identified by the ICC's committee on illegal bowling action as his most contentious, are not allowed in one- day matches.

    "I haven't faced Akhtar but I don't see anything wrong in his bowling action," Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya said.

    Whatmore said the Sri Lankan board was also fighting the case of off-spinner Kumara Dharmasena, who was suspended because of a suspect bowling action.

    Sri Lanka last toured Pakistan in 1995-96 and came from one test down to win the series 2-1. The players who formed the backbone of that team -- Arjuna Ranatunga, Aravinda de Silva, Hashan Tillekeratne and Roshan Mahanama -- are not in the squad for this tour.

    "We have a new but very talented team. There could be some surprises in store for Pakistan, who are a great team in their country," Jayasuriya said.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Why is it that only players from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India are banned for their suspect action. What about Lee's action?


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