Pakistan’s ace fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has been dropped from Asia’s squad for next month’s Afro-Asia Cup in India because of suspect fitness.
Mohsin Khan, a member of Asia’s selection committee that picked Shoaib for the 14-man squad, told ‘The News’ that the pacer has been excluded from the team after it was ‘reliably’ learnt that he is not fit. He said that Shoaib’s replacement would be announced from among three reserve pacers shortly. Bangladesh’s Mashrafe Mortaza, a talented fast bowler, is likely to come in for Shoaib.
“We have dropped Shoaib Akhtar from Asia’s squad because it has been reliably learnt that he is facing fitness problems,” said Mohsin, a former Pakistan Test opener. Mohsin said that the decision to drop Shoaib has been taken considering the ‘fact that the bowler ruled himself out of the ongoing ODI series against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi citing fitness problems’.
“If a player doesn’t think himself to be fit enough to play for his own country then how can he play for any other team,” said Mohsin. Interestingly, Shoaib was picked to play for Asia several days after he made himself unavailable for the series against Sri Lanka.
When asked whether he talked to the player to discuss his fitness, Mohsin said that the input he got from ‘top Pakistan Cricket Board’ officials was enough. “I talked to several top PCB officials and they all told me that Shoaib is not fit to play international cricket. I think it is good enough a reason for us to drop the player from Asia’s team.”
Mohsin, however, refused to disclose the names of PCB officials he talked to about the issue. There have been indications from the PCB in recent days that it was not happy with Shoaib’s selection in Asia’s squad. Sources say that the top Board officials were not happy with Shoaib’s recent attitude and were also displeased because the experienced player made himself unavailable for the Abu Dhabi series.
Mohsin, however, made it clear that Shoaib was not dropped from Asia’s squad because of PCB pressure. “There was no pressure on me from the PCB,” he said. “We have taken the decision for the player’s betterment because his fitness might be at further risk if he plays in the Afro-Asia Cup,” added Mohsin, who was a meber of the four-man selection committee that selected Asia’s squad in Dhaka earlier this month.
Shoaib, 31, was one of three Pakistani players selected in Asia’s squad for the three ODIs to be played during the Afro-Asia Cup series in the South Indian cities of Bangalore and Chennai from June 6-10. Medium pacer Mohammad Asif and seasoned batsman Mohammad Yousuf are the now the only Pakistanis in the squad that includes five Sri Lankans and five Indian players.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007 and is filed under Cricket, Cricket Stars.
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