KARACHI: Injury-prone fast-bowler Shoaib Akhtar will be used with care during the Asia Cup, according to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials.
Pakistan play three matches on the tour of Sri Lanka, against the hosts on June 15, India on June 19 before taking on Bangladesh on June 21. It is believed that while Akhtar will feature in the opening two matches of Pakistan’s campaign, he will be rested for the third match in order to keep him fit and injury-free, especially if Pakistan reach the final of the event taking place on June 24. His performance will also determine his selection for the England tour.
Akhtar’s name was picked for the tour unanimously in the PCB meeting that also included the captain. However, the absence of coach Waqar Younis, from the meeting as well as the press conference that followed raised eyebrows since his input in naming the 35-man squad, too, was not taken by the PCB.
“I bowled without any problems and it’s good to be back in the team,” Akhtar told AFP. “I will do my best to help my team win the Asia Cup and revive my career.”
Meanwhile, captain Shahid Afridi, who had not been too keen on the return of Shoaib Malik into the squad has reminded the former captain to concentrate on playing cricket and stay away from the antics that earned him his team-mates’ wrath in front of the inquiry committee. It is believed that Afridi held a meeting with Malik following the squad announcement for the Asia Cup and shared his concerns with Malik while reminding him of his duties.
According to sources, PCB Chairman Ijaz Butt forced the inclusion of Malik, assuring Afridi that the former captain, whose year-long ban for conspiring against the captain and creating disharmony among the players was lifted by the board only days ago, will concentrate on playing cricket. He also gave Afridi full authority to send Malik back to Pakistan if any disciplinary issue was to take place. The PCB also announced that the tour selection committee will only comprise the captain, coach and the manager. Previously, the assistant coach and the associate manager also had a say in finalising the playing eleven but their powers have now been taken away by the board.
Published in the Express Tribune, June 4th, 2010.
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