ICL: Indian Cricket League

Pakistan to leave for Caribbean without Shoaib, Asif


Pakistan’s injury-hit World Cup squad would fly out to the Caribbean today but top strike bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif would miss the flight.

“Hopefully everything would be fine and Shoaib and Asif would be joining us in the West Indies within a week,” team’s media manager PJ Mir told ‘The News’ on Wednesday.

Everything, however, doesn’t seem fine at the moment as far as the two dope-tainted pacers are concerned.

Both Shoaib and Asif are currently in England, seeking medical assistance to fast-track their recovery ahead of Pakistan’s March 13 World Cup opener against the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was expecting reports on their fitness levels on Wednesday but it might take a couple of more days to confirm whether Shoaib and Asif would be fit enough to play in the World Cup.

“Asif is returning home tomorrow while Shoaib arrives on Friday,” said Mir. “They would both be bringing along medical reports on their injuries and are expected to go through a fitness test over the weekend,” he added.

A knee injury sustained last month has put a question mark over Shoaib’s World Cup hopes while Asif had been nursing a recurrence of a tennis elbow in recent weeks.

Pakistani officials are hoping that Shoaib and Asif would get an all-clear for the crunch assignment as far as their injuries are concerned.

However, lurking beneath the fitness issue is the trickier problem of doping suspicions. The pace duo tested positive for banned anabolic steroid nandrolone last year and experts fear that they could still be carrying traces of the performance-enhancing substance in their bloodstreams.

It is believed that these fears are the reason why Shoaib and Asif are yet to take dope tests made mandatory by the PCB for participation in the World Cup. All other members of the World Cup squad as well as reserve players have cleared the dope tests.

Mir said that once the pacers are passed fit by the Board’s medical commission they would take the test right away.

“It would take 48 hours to get the results of the tests which is why I believe that if everything goes alright, Shoaib and Asif should join us in Trinidad by the time we play our first warm up there,” said Mir.

Pakistan, who would reach the Caribbean on March 2 after an overnight stop-over in London, are to play Canada in a practice match on March 6 at Sir Frank Warrell Memorial Ground in St Augustine, Trinidad. Their second and last warm-up tie would be against South Africa at the same venue on March 9.

The Pakistanis have decided to give Shoaib and Asif until March 6 to be available for the World Cup but in case the players are ruled out of the contest, fast Mohammad Sami and all-rounder Yasir Arafat are expected to replace them.

Source:The News

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This entry was posted on Thursday, March 1st, 2007 and is filed under World Cup 2007.

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