Shoaib in contention for Abu Dhabi ODI series

October 27th, 2008 - 4:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Shoaib AkhtarKarachi, Oct 27 (IANS) Controversial fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar will be in contention when Pakistan cricket selectors pick the 15-man squad for the three-match One-day International series against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi from Nov 3.Chief selector Saleem Jaffer, a former Test pacer, said Monday that all leading players including Shoaib - who is under a cloud because of suspect fitness - remain in contention for slots in the national squad. Pakistan will be playing against the Windies from Nov 12-16.

In a local game Sunday, Shoaib needed four spells to bowl nine overs in a Pentangular Cup match against Sindh here at the National Stadium. Playing for Federal Areas, Shoaib scalped Sindh opener Khalid Latif and ended with figures of 1-25 at stumps.

During the best part of the day, the world’s fastest bowler seemed like a shadow of his previous self but Jaffer is willing to give the Rawalpindi Express more time to find his rhythm.

“We are keenly observing several key batsmen and bowlers in this Pentangular Cup match,” Jaffer was quoted as saying by The News after the match. “Our options are open for the series in Abu Dhabi and we will take our time before naming the squad for it.”

Jaffer said that Shoaib, who is aiming to make his one-day return in Abu Dhabi, is bowling well. “Shoaib is bowling well. He is pushing and trying to do better in every over. He is just lacking on stamina,” added Jaffer, a former Pakistan Test pacer.

Jaffer said that Shoaib will need more time to regain his form. “As a fast bowler myself, I’m aware that pacers need time on their comeback. Shoaib knows that he has to take little steps on his way back in international cricket. We are willing to give him time and will only sit down for final selection (of the Pakistan squad) after the next Pentangular Cup match,” he said.

The next Pentangular Cup match begins from Friday and Jaffer said that the national selection committee will meet during that game to decide Pakistan’s combination for the series against the West Indies.

“We will announce the 15-man squad by Nov 3, around five or six days before the team’s departure for Abu Dhabi,” he said.

Shoaib, 33, returned to the Pakistan squad for a Twenty20 event in Toronto earlier this month but failed to impress much in the event.

Jaffer said that apart from Shoaib, he and fellow selector Shoaib Mohammad have also been observing the form and fitness of pacer Rao Iftikhar Anjum, all-rounder Yasir Arafat and middle-order batsman Faisal Iqbal apart from a few others during the ongoing match.

“Each and every player who is fit and in good form is in contention for a place in the Pakistan team,” said Jaffer. “We will continue to monitor the fitness and performance of the players including (fast bowler) in the next match of this tournament,” he said.

Umar Gul’s fitness remains in doubt though the pacer made his international return in this month’s four-nation Twenty20 tournament in Toronto after recovering from a rib cage injury.

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