Pakistan likely to call back Shoaib for Champions trophy

August 6th, 2008 - 6:39 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Shoaib Akhtar

Karachi, Aug 6 (IANS) Pakistan will call its controversial pacer Shoaib Akhtar back in the national squad for next month’s Champions Trophy. Sources in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said Wednesday that the national selectors wanted to judge for themselves whether Shoaib is fully match fit by watching him in action during the three practice games at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore which were supposed to be played from Aug 5-9.

But the opening game was washed out the other day and according to forecasts, heavy monsoon rains are expected in Lahore during the rest of the week, putting a question mark on the other two games to be played Aug 8 and 10.

The problem for Pakistan is that Shoaib is not the only key player with doubts over his fitness. Umar Gul, too, is yet to prove his match fitness while senior all-rounder Shahid Afridi and left-handed opener Salman Butt are also plagued with fitness problems.

The national selection committee has to finalise Pakistan’s 15-man squad for the Champions Trophy by Aug 11, a day before the International Cricket Council (ICC) deadline for submission of final squads for the eight-nation tournament to be played from Sept 12-28.

“The four players including Shoaib will be drafted in the Pakistan team subject to fitness. The Champions Trophy is still around five weeks away and the players will have plenty of time to prove whether they are match fit,” said a source pointing that the PCB might arrange for practice games later this month if the Lahore matches as disrupted by rain.

Shoaib, 32, has not played for Pakistan since featuring in the fourth one-dayer against India in Gwalior last November. Since then he has been out of international action because of injury problems or suspension due to disciplinary breaches.

Pakistan are eager to have him back in the team after they flopped in the Asia Cup at home earlier this summer. Their toothless bowling attack was blamed for Pakistan’s defeat in the six-nation tournament.

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