Pakistan’s cricket chief Dr Nasim Ashraf on Saturday backed his injury-hit squad for World Cup glory saying that he is hopeful all of the team’s fitness woes would be over ahead of the quadrennial spectacle getting underway in the Caribbean from March 13.
“We have several fitness issues but there are other competing teams who have similar problems. I am confident that all our players would be fit in time for the World Cup,” the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman said after a Board’s ad-hoc committee meeting in Islamabad.
With the World Cup just weeks away, Pakistan are dogged by injuries to their key pacers Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul and Mohammad Asif. The trio has been named in Pakistan’s 15-man squad for the World Cup subject to fitness.
“I believe that all three of them would regain fitness within the next couple of weeks. If they are ready even by March 7, we would field them in the World Cup,” he said.
Pakistan have kept three pacers - Mohammad Sami, Shahid Nazir and Azhar Mahmood - in a five-man reserve list for the World Cup.
Ashraf said that Shoaib went to England with the Board’s permission to get his injured knee checked adding that the fast bowler has been diagnosed with a knee problem that should heal fast through treatment.
Shoaib, 31, limped out of the second Test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth last month with a hamstring problem and later revealed after returning home that he was also carrying a knee injury.
Also known as the ‘Rawalpindi Express’, Shoaib is an important player for Pakistan in their World Cup campaign.
Ashraf said that Gul and Asif were suffering from relatively milder injury problems and the duo should be in good physical shape before Pakistan’s World Cup opener against the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica on March 13.
The PCB chief said that Pakistan have gone through a hectic international schedule that has left some of their players injured. But he pointed out that other countries like Australia, England and New Zealand are also affected by injuries to some of their key players.
He said that Pakistan are a capable side and will not disappoint in the World Cup.
The Board has announced that a conditioning camp for the World Cup-bound squad would get underway in Lahore from February 23. Ashraf said that former Test cricketers including Imran Khan, Majid Khan and Javed Miandad would be invited to the camp to give tips to the players before their departure to the West Indies.
Ashraf spoke on various other topics as well including the contentious issue of implementing a new PCB constitution.
“The implementation of constitution is only due to a few legal hitches and also because the Attorney General went to perform Hajj. It would be implemented as soon as it is approved by the concerned authorities,” he said.
Ashraf had promised to have a new Board constitution in place by January 31, 2007, and was criticised by various quarters after failing to fulfil the commitment.
There were also allegations that the Board, currently being run on an ad-hoc basis, was playing delaying tactics in the implementation of the constitution.
“We have no such motives and once the constitution is approved, it would be implemented as soon as possible,” he said.
He also that the Board would revive plans for the upgrading of Karachi’s National Stadium saying that its seating capacity would be increased by 10,000.
Source:The NewsMore on:Naseem Ashraf, Pakistan, PCB, World Cup
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