Gul and teammates clear fitness test for World Cup

gulMedium pacer Umar Gul was on Monday passed fit for next month’s World Cup, helping lift the doom and gloom surrounding the Pakistan team due to injury woes and doping suspicion.

Even as pacers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif continued the bid to be ‘available’ for the World Cup, other team members have cleared another hurdle on the way to the Caribbean. The dope-tainted duo aside, Pakistan’s World Cup-bound players and reserves passed an extensive fitness test in Lahore, just two days before the squad’s scheduled departure for the West Indies.

The good news for Pakistan is that among the players passing the test was Umar Gul, who was earlier regarded as a doubtful starter for the World Cup because of an ankle injury. A team official told ‘The News’ that Gul and his teammates were made to go through a comprehensive fitness test at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore and later the brief training camp concluded.

“The good news is that all our players who appeared in the training camp including Umar Gul have been cleared as fully fit for the World Cup,” said Pakistan team’s media manager PJ Mir. “It was a demanding test but was conducted without any casualties,” he added.

Pakistan selected several injured players in their 15-man World Cup squad as well as in the reserve list for the Caribbean assignment earlier this month. However, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had made it clear that the players would only be allowed to play in the World Cup if they were fully fit. Pakistan have till March 2 to replace any injured players on their World Cup squad.

The PCB had assigned its medical commission to supervise the physical test. The Board had also announced that only players clearing dope tests would be sent to the West Indies. All players except Shoaib and Asif took the test and cleared it.

Shoaib and Asif are yet to go through the testing procedure. The pacers, who tested positive for banned anabolic steroid nandrolone last October, are currently in England and the official explanation for their visit is that they are getting medical treatment.

However, there have been strong rumours that the players are currently seeking medical and legal advise to pave the way for their participation in the World Cup. They are feared to be carrying traces of nandrolone in their bloodstreams and could test positive again. Another failed test would not only end their World Cup dream but, according to experts, might also put them in danger of a life ban for a second drug offence.

But Mir said that the players, especially Shoaib, are facing fitness issues for which they need medical treatment. “We will know about their situation latest by tomorrow,” he said. Mir said that other team players have been allowed a day’s rest and would reassemble in Karachi tomorrow (Wednesday) ahead of their flight for London on March 1. Pakistan are scheduled to have an overnight stay in London before flying for the West Indies where they meet the hosts in the World Cup opener on March 13 at Sabina Park, Kingston (Jamaica).

Source:The News

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 27th, 2007 and is filed under World Cup 2007.

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