Pace star Shoaib Akhtar declared on Friday he just has a 50 percent chance to feature in Pakistan’s World Cup campaign in the Caribbean next month.
Shoaib, nursing a knee injury and threatened by another positive dope test, is still not sure whether his injury would heal in time to allow him to play in the World Cup.
“I will be going to England for another scan next week after which it would become clear whether I can play in the World Cup,” Shoaib said in Lahore where Pakistan began training for the World Cup on Friday.
Shoaib, 31, is seen as a key player for Pakistan who are hoping that his sheer pace would help them in the West Indies.
However, there is a strong possibility that Shoaib would be left out of Pakistan’s touring party scheduled to leave for the West Indies on Thursday.
His knee injury is believed to be serious and there is also the thorny issue of doping that might derail the ‘Rawalpindi Express’.
The pacer has not trained since tearing a hamstring muscle in the second Test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth last month. He went to England last week for a second opinion on his knee injury.
Shoaib has so far avoided the dope test even as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has tested 21 of his teammates.
It was because of him and fellow pacer Mohammad Asif that the PCB had decided to carry out internal dope tests before the World Cup. The two pacers tested positive for a performance enhancing substance last October and though cleared by a PCB appeals committee, they still face an international ban due to World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) decision to challenge the pardon in the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Asif is also yet to take the test.
With just days left in the squad’s departure for the Caribbean things look bleak for Shoaib.
However, a team official said that the bowler is still upbeat about his World Cup hopes.
PJ Mir, Pakistan team’s media manager, told this correspondent that Shoaib is full of spirit and is itching to take the field for Pakistan in the World Cup.
“I was pleasantly surprised to see how spirited Shoaib is at the moment in spite of his injury. He is motivated and is full of excitement. I hope that Shoaib gets fit because he can really make a difference for us in the World Cup,” said Mir.
Mir said that Shoaib would have a scan in England on February 26, the result of which should reach the PCB by the 27th. “Once the Board has the report, it would decide whether Shoaib would remain a part of the squad,” he said.
Mir said that Pakistan have kept their reserve players on alert in case any of their injured players are left out.
He said that pace spearhead Mohammad Asif has almost fully recovered from a tennis elbow but added that medium pacer Umar Gul is still not fully fit. “We will have to wait and see whether Gul manages to pass the test because he is still not a hundred percent fit,” he said.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Saturday, February 24th, 2007 and is filed under General.
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