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Knight Riders to offload Shoaib

Call it an after-effect of the global financial meltdown, or the fast-increasing tendency to knock off Pakistani names off the roster.

Shah Rukh Khan’s IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders has decided to put up ace speedster Shoaib Akhtar for sale this winter.

The transfer window ahead of the second edition of the Twenty20 carnival opened late last month. And, with SRK’s nod, the KKR management has taken the bold step to try selling off Akhtar and look for a suitable replacement from the pool of international or national players.

The inaugural season of the IPL last summer saw the tearaway fast bowler’s performance swing between extremes, with a burst of dazzling bowling clouded by fitness and disciplinary problems that often left the black-and-gold brigade embarrassed.

Finally, after much deliberation, Red Chillies Entertainment — SRK’s production company that owns KKR — has officially put out Akhtar for sale and is looking to either ‘buy’ a suitable replacement or ‘trade’ him for another player who would fill into his shoes.

Knight Riders have been pondering over this move for quite some time now, and finally, confirmation came today from the horse’s mouth. The team’s chief coach John Buchanan clarified that Akhtar was indeed up for sale.

All the eight teams of the IPL carnival are now eligible to trade players and the transfer window closes on January 22, as the second edition of the new format of the game comes up in April-May.

“Shoaib is now up for trade. We cannot have room for two pacers in this team (read: Umar Gul),” a candid Buchanan told reporters on the sidelines of KKR’s three-day selection trials that began at the Eden Gardens today.

As many as 45 young guns, including the sons of Mohammad Azharuddin and Aunshuman Gaekwad, will be screened at the three-day camp.

The Knight Riders coach made it clear that with Gul and Ishant Sharma giving results on the pace front, there’s just no need for the think-tank to hold on to the expensive Akhtar.

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