Shoaib to play in 1st-class cricket to prove fitness

Published: Saturday, February 12, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has advised fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar to play in the ongoing Patron's Trophy first-class cricket competition to prove his fitness ahead of the India series. Saleem Altaf, PCB's Director (cricket operations), on Friday advised Shoaib to represent his department Khan Research Laboratory in the second round match against Pakistan Customs at Rawalpindi on February 14.

The Pakistan cricket selectors will name a 16-man team for the India tour on February 18.

"Shoaib Akhtar has been advised to play in first-class cricket and prove his fitness so that the selectors can consider him for the tour," Altaf, a former Test fast bowler, told reporters in Lahore.

"There's nothing unusual about it. Shoaib had to abort the Australian tour on fitness grounds and therefore, he can only come back into the team after proving his fitness."

PCB sources said the decision to make Shoaib play in first-class cricket was taken by PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan after a meeting with skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq earlier on Friday.

Shoaib flew back from Australia during the tri-nation one-day series because of a hamstring injury. He took 11 wickets in the first two Tests but bowled only 15 overs in the third Test at Sydney.

He is presently under the treatment of PCB's Medical Commission after the departure of foreign coach, trainer and physiotherapist "on short leave".

Interestingly, rest of the Pakistan players, who returned earlier this week from the tour Down Under, have been advised not to play in any first-class competition match.

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