Pakistan on Monday announced an extended list of 25 players for a conditioning camp starting from December 26 in Lahore ahead of next month’s tour of South Africa with chief selector Wasim Bari terming it as the “core unit” for the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies.
Fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, still under a cloud following a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) decision to contest the lifting of their doping bans, were included in the list along with another banned medium pacer Shabbir Ahmed.
“We have no official instructions on Shoaib and Asif and have selected them for the conditioning camp with the belief that they have been cleared to play international cricket,” Bari told ‘The News’.
Shoaib and Asif tested positive for banned steroid nandrolone in October and were later banned by an inquiry tribunal for two and one year respectively. However, an appeal committee overturned their bans earlier this month, clearing the bowlers of any doping offences on legal grounds.The News
The verdict prompted a strong reaction from WADA, the international doping watchdog, with its chief Dick Pound announcing that the Agency would challenge the decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The ICC on Monday announced that it would support WADA on this case. However, Bari said that the selection committee believes Shoaib and Asif are available for the tour of South Africa. “I believe if there would be any hitch for these bowlers it might arise before the World Cup,” he said.
The World Cup is scheduled to be played in the Caribbean islands from March 13 to April 28. Shabbir, whose 12-month ban over an illegal bowling action expires on December 19, is also in the list.
“The reports we have received about Shabbir say that he is almost sure of getting an ICC clearance which is why he has been asked to attend the conditioning camp,” said Bari pointing out that Shabbir has been working hard in recent months and could win back his place in the national team for the tour of South Africa.
Also making it in the list is out-of-form all-rounder Shahid Afridi, who is struggling to regain his spot on Pakistan’s one-day squad. Pakistan have also included Zulqarnain Haider, a wicket-keeper, as a reserve for Kamran Akmal.
“This is our core unit for the World Cup,” he said. “These are the players who have been giving positive results over the years and I am sure we will come out with a decent World Cup squad from among these players,” he added.
Bari said that he is happy with the way Pakistan won the recently-concluded one-day series against the West Indies but added that the team can show further improvement. “They have played well but I still feel that their performance can go up by twenty percent with a little more improvement in the players’ fitness and fielding skills,” he expressed.
He said that Pakistan would announce their squad for South Africa next week. The Pakistanis led by Inzamam-ul-Haq are scheduled to fly for South Africa on January 3 just about a week before the start of the opening Test at Centurion on January 11.
The list: Inzamam-ul-Haq (captain), Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Yasir Hameed, Faisal Iqbal, Shoaib Malik, Asim Kamal, Salman Butt, Abdul Razzaq, Shahid Afridi, Yasir Arafat, Kamran Akmal (wicket-keeper), Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Mohammad Sami, Rao Iftikhar Anjum, Shabbir Ahmed, Shahid Nazir, Danish Kaneria, Abdul Rehman, Zulqarnain Haider (reserve wicket-keeper).
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Tuesday, December 19th, 2006 and is filed under General.
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