ICL: Indian Cricket League

Top Pakistan players hit form ahead of Abu Dhabi series


Leading Pakistani players are hitting form ahead of a three-match series against World Cup finalists Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi next week, chief selector Salahuddin Ahmad said on Tuesday.

“Some of our top bowlers and batsmen did well today in a practice game in Lahore today which I believe is a good sign,” Salahuddin told ‘The News’ from Lahore in a telephonic conversation.

Pakistan have begun the first leg of a rebuilding process with new captain Shoaib Malik at helm after a disastrous World Cup campaign. Salahuddin alias Sallu and other selectors conducted the practice game at the Gaddafi Stadium that pitted teams led by Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik and experienced batsman Mohammad Yousuf against each other.

The good news for Pakistan is that highly-rated medium pacer Mohammad Asif, who missed the World Cup due to fitness and doping-related problems, proved that he is fully fit. “Though he just took one wicket, Asif bowled impressively in the match,” said Sallu, who supervised the game as an umpire.

Asif was withdrawn from Pakistan’s 15-man World Cup squad just before it left for the West Indies in March on the grounds that he had a serious elbow problem. Sallu said that the pacer showed no signs of the injury adding that he bowled with a lot of precision and got the scalp of opener Imran Farhat, who himself is set to make a comeback to the national team after missing the World Cup.

The chief selector was also all praise for fast bowlers Umar Gul and Mohammad Sami, saying that in spite of the heat, they bowled with a lot of heart. He also hailed batsmen Yousuf and Mohammad Hafeez, who were among the leading run-getters in the practice game.

The match was held to test the physical fitness of the players, besides providing the selectors a chance to see newer players perform in competitive conditions. Sallu said that all the players taking part in the national training camp have cleared fitness tests but the selectors would give them a green signal only after seeing their performance in the practice games. “For us, it is also very important for a player to prove his fitness on the field, in a match,” said Sallu, a former Test cricketer.

He said that some of the players who featured in the practice match will also take part in another trial game to be held later this week. The match would see players of the Pakistan Cricket Academy playing against a team formed by some of the country’s prominent cricketers.

The Pakistan Academy recently won an Academy tri-series tournament in Dhaka that also featured the Bangladesh Academy and Sri Lanka Academy. Some of the players who represented the Pakistan Academy, especially talented batsman Fawad Alam, are being considered for selection in the Pakistan team for the Abu Dhabi series.

The fate of the three-match series, however, continues to hang in the balance because of sponsorship and TV rights issues. The series was scheduled to take place from May 9-15 but there are fears that it might be postponed or even cancelled.

Sallu, however, said that the Pakistan probables would continue to train whether or not the series is held on time. “Our camp would continue till May 4 as scheduled,” he said. Pakistan are scheduled to announce their squad for the Abu Dhabi series on May 6.

Source:Cricket News

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007 and is filed under Schedules, Cricket, Cricket Stars.

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