Shoaib Akhtar ( شعیب اختر; born 13 August 1975 in Rawalpindi, Punjab) is a Pakistani right arm fast bowler in cricket, who is regarded as one of the fastest bowlers in the world. He set an official world record by achieving the fastest delivery, when he clocked in at 161.3 km/h (100.2 mph) in his bowling speed, twice at a cricket match against England. His ability to bowl fast yorkers and quick bouncers have made him one of the best fast bowlers in cricket.
However, he has been involved in several controversies during his career, often accused of not being a team player. Akhtar was sent home during the Test match series in Australia in 2005 for alleged poor attitude. A year later, he was embroiled in a drug scandal after testing positive to a banned substance. However, the ban imposed on him was lifted on court appeal. In September 2007, Akhtar was banned for an indefinite period for his fight with Pakistan team mate and fast bowler Mohammad Asif. On 1 April 2008, Akhtar was banned for five years for publicly criticizing the Pakistan Cricket Board. In October 2008, the Lahore High Court in Pakistan suspended the five year ban and Akhtar was selected in the 15-man squad for the Twenty20 Quadrangular Tournament in Canada. Pakistani judge, Rana Bhagwandas stated once that, Akhtar is a legend of Pakistan cricket. He will retire from all international cricket after the 2011 World Cup.
Akhtar made a return to international cricket albeit in the shorter format of the game. In May 2010, PCB named him in a list of 35 probables for the Asia Cup. On 15 June 2010, Akhtar made his return, taking 3 wickets for 28 runs in the first match of the Asia Cup against Sri Lanka. He narrowly missed out a spot in the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 in place of the injured Umar Gul.
In July 2010, he was selected for the Twenty20 series against Australia but the selectors decided not to play him in the Test squad so that he would not get injured. He was subsequently selected for the ODI and Twenty20 series against England in September 2010.
Akhtar returned to the national side representing the country against England in the Twenty20 International. He bowled an impressive spell and returned with figures of 2 wickets for 23 runs. He continued to bowl well in the ODI series in the absence of regular fast-bowlers, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, who were suspended by the International Cricket Council amid allegations of Spot-fixing. Despite his relatively good bowling form, Pakistani coach Waqar Younis insisted that the bowling attack must not become reliant on Akhtar, as he is 35 years of age and fitness troubles continue to affect him. Akhtar was selected for the tour of New Zealand and started his campaign off well with 3 wickets on Boxing Day in the first of two Twenty20 Internationals against New Zealand.
Akhtar was selected in Pakistan's 15-man squad to play in the 2011 World Cup hosted by Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka in February to March. During the tournament, he announced that he would retire from international cricket at the end of the World Cup. Several International cricket players congratulated him for his outstanding career performance, most notably Ricky Ponting: "I had some great duels with Shoaib over the years. To this day I always said he is the fastest bowler I have faced in international cricket." Ponting said he remembered a particularly fierce spell from Akhtar at Perth in 1999: "His one spell that everyone can watch on the internet of him bowling at me at the WACA that was reasonably entertaining, more so entertaining for Justin Langer I think. "Langer was at the other end laughing at me all the time when I was trying to keep all the deliveries of Shoaib out. He was express pace, a very, very good bowler."