Akhtar, Malik to undergo fitness test on Wednesday

Lahore: Maverick Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar and former captain Shoaib Malik will have to pass through a fitness test tomorrow to be considered for selection for the forthcoming Asia Cup in Sri Lanka and the subsequent tour to England.

Pakistan’s assistant coach Ejaz Ahmed said the duo had to undergo fitness tests as they had not played international cricket for a while now.

“The selectors want to be sure about their fitness because we have some hard series coming up,” the former Test batsman said.

Shoaib has not played for Pakistan since May, 2009 due to disciplinary and fitness problems while only last week, the appellate judge of PCB lifted the one-year ban on Malik.

Ejaz, however, said pacer Umar Gul, who also had missed the Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies due to a shoulder injury, would not be undergoing any fitness test as he was not in the reckoning for the Asia Cup starting June 12.

“Gul is still recovering from his shoulder injury and we don’t want to risk him now. His presence will be important for the England tour where we play six Tests,” he said.

Ejaz said on the personal front he would like to see more youngsters in Asia Cup squad as it will help in building up a strong pool of reserve players.

“We need to give some of the talented youngsters more exposure and the Asia Cup is a good start,” he said.

Pakistan is due to announce the Asia Cup squad on Thursday after having already named 35 probables for the twin tours, including England tour.

Ejaz also agreed that Pakistan needed to improve its fielding standards to match the rest of the teams.

“Our players need to work much harder individually on their fielding,” he said.



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