Akhtar’s comeback uncertain after unimpressive fitness test
Lahore: The chances of controversial fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar making it to the 15-man squad for the upcoming Asia Cup appear to be uncertain, as he failed to impress selectors and other Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials during a fitness test conducted here.
While former skipper Shoaib Malik, who also took the fitness test, completed all physical tasks without much difficulty, Akhtar , who was made to bowl ten overs on the trot, appeared completely exhausted towards the end of the spell.
“His pace went down and there was also this slight limp which left the selectors unconvinced,” sources privy to the fitness test, said.
Insiders said that despite some issues, Akhtar stands a 70 percent chance of making it into the squad for the Asia Cup, which would be played in Sri Lanka from June 15 to 24.
Pakistan’s squad for the quadrangular one-day tournament is likely to be announced today (Thursday).
While Akhtar has skipper Shahid Afridi’s backing, insiders said that he does not want Malik in the squad, at least for the Asia Cup, but the PCB is under tremendous pressure from some influential quarters to bring the former skipper back in the team.
“There is a lot of pressure on the PCB to pick Malik for the Asia Cup, but Afridi wants him to stay away. The captain believes that Malik should get this message that unless he changes his approach, he won’t be welcomed back in the team,” a well-placed source said.
Afridi believes that Akhtar still has some more cricket left in him and can be effective if used in short spells in one-day and T20 matches.
“Afridi believes that Pakistan can field Akhtar in crucial matches and give him regular rests between matches. He is of the view that Akhtar can still be a wicket-taking bowler in one-day and Twenty20 cricket,” sources added.