Pakistan~~s Akhtar and Asif in World Cup squad

Published: Thursday, January 11, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Lahore:Pakistan's Akhtar and Asif in World Cup squadAkhtar, Asif in Pak World Cup squad

Pakistan have included the fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif in their 30-man World Cup initial squad, an official said, despite uncertainty over their doping cases.

Akhtar and Asif launched successful appeals last month after a tribunal banned them for two years and one year respectively for testing positive for the banned steroid nandrolone.

A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) appellate committee absolved them of the charges on the grounds they did not take the banned substances knowingly, but the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has challenged the lifting of the ban.

Nonetheless, the PCB was adamant the players were free to play. Asif is with the Pakistan team in South Africa, while Akhtar is expected to fly out on Thursday after he was named as a replacement.

"As far as we are concerned both Asif and Akhtar are free to play. We will cross the bridge when it comes," chief selector Wasim Bari told AFP on Wednesday.

"If there are any developments and we get any instructions we will follow them," he added.

Bari hoped Pakistan will produce good results in the World Cup.

"We have a decent side and if we improve our fielding we can match any side in the world," said Bari, a former captain.

Another paceman, Shabir Ahmed, who was last month cleared after serving a one year ban over illegal bowling action, is also among the probables.

Pakistan face the West Indies in the opening match of the World Cup on March 13 at Jamaica. Inzamam-ul-Haq was already named to lead the side while a final 15-man squad will be announced next month.

Pakistan won the World Cup in Australia in 1992.

Probables: Inzamam-ul-Haq, Younis Khan, Imran Farhat, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Umar Gul, Shahid Nazir, Danish Kaneria, Yasir Hameed, Shabbir Ahmed, Mohammad Sami, Abdul Rehman, Salman Butt, Faisal Iqbal, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Rao Iftikhar, Imran Nazir, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Khalil, Bazid Khan, Mansoor Amjad, Zulqarnain Haider, Yasir Arafat, Mohammad Asif, Shoaib Akhtar, Misbah-ul-Haq, Hasan Raza.


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