Controversial Akhtar wins back Pakistan contract
LAHORE: Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar won back his central contract on Tuesday, returning to the international fold a year after a bitter row threatened to end his uneasy career.
Akhtar, 33, who played just three Twenty20 internationals last year, was among 26 players awarded annual contracts and will receive 250,000 rupees (3,500 dollars) a month plus match fees.
The move hands another chance to the controversial "Rawalpindi Express," who was slapped with a five-year ban -- later reduced and then suspended -- after he lashed out at officials for failing to give him a contract last January.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief operating officer Salim Altaf said seniority was the main criterion in deciding the contracts.
"The central contracts were devised by coach Intikhab Alam, manager Yawar Saeed and chief selector Abdul Qadir and the main criteria was seniority of the players," Altaf told reporters.
Akhtar was named in the top ''A'' category with captain Shoaib Malik, vice-captain Misbahul Haq, Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul, Kamran Akmal, Salman Butt and Danish Kaneria.
He missed out on a central contract last year following Pakistan''s Test and one-day series defeats in India in 2007, when he was often absent through illness and injury.
Akhtar also showed interest in acting in Bollywood movies, irritating cricket authorities.
Angered by his exclusion, Akhtar publicly criticised the PCB and was handed the ban before its reduction on appeal.