Shoaib Akhtar has said he had no point to prove to anybody when he went out to bowl against the Delhi Daredevils in his IPL debut for the Kolkata Knight Riders. "I just wanted to win the game," said Shoaib, who ripped through Delhi's batting with four wickets from three overs.
With Kolkata defending a low total, Shoaib removed Virender Sehwag off the second ball of the innings, dismissed Gautam Gambhir in his next over and then took two more off successive balls in his third.
Last month the Pakistan board banned Shoaib for five years on grounds of disciplinary problems but allowed him to play the IPL. He last played for Pakistan in November 2007.
Shoaib said he was stressed but put everything behind him before the match. "For me, my team is the most important thing," Shoaib said. "Kolkata is my home team. Eden Gardens is my home ground. Sharing the dressing room with Shah Rukh Khan and Sourav [Ganguly] was fantastic. They backed me. And I am really happy to perform. They put faith in me. And I am happy to deliver."
Ganguly, the Kolkata captain, acknowledge Shoaib's performance. "He came to the country with lots [of things] happening behind him," Ganguly said. "But he showed a lot of character."
Sehwag said it was the best Twenty20 spell he had ever seen but denied that Delhi's batsmen fell to Shoaib's pace." We are used to pace," Sehwag said. "We are all international players. I, Gautam and [Manoj] Tiwary. We batted too positively against Shoaib."
Their 23-run win keeps Kolkata at fourth place just above Delhi; their next match is against the Mumbai Indians on Friday.