ICL: Indian Cricket League

Ankle injury puts World Cup hopes of Gul in doubt


Pakistan’s medium pacer Umar Gul may be forced out of international cricket for almost three months if fears that he is suffering from an ankle fracture are confirmed following a medical examination in South Africa.

Sources close to the Pakistan team disclosed to this correspondent on Monday that after initial examination, doctors fear that the in-form bowler may have a serious ankle fracture rather than just a sprain and his injury could take several weeks to recover.

If the injury is confirmed, Gul might even miss the all-important World Cup to be held in the Caribbean islands from March 13 to April 28. It would be a major blow for Pakistan as Gul has been their most prolific strike bowler in 2006 and is seen as a key part of their bowling attack.

Gul, who has taken 61 wickets from 14 Tests, has been advised to undergo scans in a Johannesburg hospital on Tuesday (today), the results of which are expected to be available tomorrow.

Sources said that the 24-year-old Gul was carrying the ankle injury when he was included in the touring party late last month on the insistence of Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq who believed that his bowler would get fit in time for the opening Test against South Africa getting underway from January 11.

It was apparently because of this reason that Inzamam fielded Gul in a three-day practice game against Rest of South Africa that concluded in Kimberley on Monday. However, Gul broke down after bowling just three overs on the second day of the warm-up game.

The national team management was forced to ask for a replacement after it was confirmed that Gul’s injury was serious enough to sideline him from international cricket for several weeks.

The management asked the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to either send fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar or medium pacer Shabbir Ahmed as Gul’s replacement. The national selection committee opted in favour of Shoaib who would join the team ahead of the opening Test.

A PCB official said on Monday that it is yet to be decided whether Gul would stay with the team in South Africa or return home. The official said that Gul would reach Johannesburg with the Pakistan team today where he would undergo scans to check the seriousness of his injury.

At the moment, we have been told that Gul might not be able to play for the next three weeks but the exact position would only be revealed once the doctors see the scan reports,î said the official.

Pakistan are suffering from a series of problem in their lead-up to the Centurion Test. They would also be without top batsman Mohammad Yousuf who is staying home because of his wife’s surgery as well as talented all-rounder Shoaib Malik.

Malik is suffering from an ankle injury is unlikely to take part in the Test series.

The PCB official said that a decision on whether to replace Yousuf or Malik would only be taken once it is confirmed that they are out of the series and also whether the team management wants any more players. Pakistan selected an additional 17th man ñ reserve wicket-keeper Zulqarnain Haider ñ for the tour of South Africa.

Source:The News

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