KARACHI: Test opener Shan Masood has emerged as the team’s fittest player, according to initial reports from the ongoing fitness tests in Lahore, with Umar Akmal suffering the ignominy of being the worst of the lot.
The tall left-handed opener has maintained his reputation as one of the fittest athletes around in Pakistan, with veteran Younus Khan also, once again, ranking among the very best.
Others who have done well in the tests are wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan and middle-order batsman Fawad Alam, while Test fast-bowler Imran Khan Jr has improved the most since the last round of tests six months ago.
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Trainer Grant Luden has been impressed with the continuous improvement in Imran’s fitness, while he also lauded the way Shan and Younus have managed to maintain their high fitness standards.
Test skipper Misbahul Haq, usually one of the fittest around despite turning 42 later this month, was tested yesterday, with the results expected today.
Misbah aced the tests the last time around, being the only person in the entire camp to touch the 85% mark. Younus and Shan, meanwhile, were joined by Ahmad Shahzad last time around as the only three other players to cross the 80% mark.
The quartet were given a raise in their central contracts for surpassing their goals.
Meanwhile, Umar’s comeback trail continues to be a rocky road as he was named the least fit player of the entire lot. Umar is not in the 35-man fitness camp that begins in Abbottabad from May 13, with new chief selector Inzamamul Haq’s decision to leave him out being further justified by these results.
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The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is also unhappy with Umar as he is suspected to be the player to have made claims of bias in the fitness tests, allegedly claiming that certain players were being given special treatment while others were being pushed extra hard.
Umar is not the only one to have disappointed in the tests though. T20I captain Sarfraz Ahmed has also been named among the players whose fitness is not up to scratch, while Shahzad’s fitness has dropped remarkably since the heady days of being in the team’s four most fit players.
The players, however, are insistent that these reports are not true. “I don’t understand why the board is leaking these claims,” one of the players whose fitness has been questioned told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity. “The PCB should come either make the report public or ensure that it is not leaked like this. This way, I feel certain players are being given special treatment.”
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The player added that the trainers had seemed satisfied with his performance at the time. “The trainers were happy with our showing in the tests and now we’re hearing that certain players are not up to the mark,” he said. “We did whatever we were asked to do.”
A board official refuted claims of bias and claimed the leaked reports were not off the mark. However, like the players he also did so on the condition of anonymity.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2016.
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