Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq has urged the selection committee to test the players’ fitness before they finalise the squad for the ICC Champions Trophy, said an official.
The selectors have been busy with the task of assessing players’ form and fitness at the ongoing President’s Cup one-day tournament which has entered the semi-final stage.
According to the official close to the committee, Misbah, during his recent meetings with selectors on the sidelines of the domestic tournament, has suggested a fitness test for players before deciding on the final lineup.
The selectors are expected to announce the squad after the final of the Present’s Cup scheduled for April 19.
Pakistan faced a spate of injury concerns during the tour of South Africa, their last international assignment, where a number of players were sidelined due to fitness issues. The injuries disturbed Pakistan’s lineup during the series, where the team was whitewashed 3-0 during the Test series before going down 3-2 in the One-Day Internationals. Fast-bowlers Umar Gul, Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan, opener Nasir Jamshed amongst others suffered injuries during the course of the tour.
“Misbah was not satisfied with the fitness of various players during the tour,” the official told The Express Tribune. “The captain feels that the upcoming Champions Trophy is a tough assignment and only players who are completely fit should be included in the team.
“He has also suggested a fitness test for players and urged the selection on merit irrespective of seniority.”
The test, if conducted, will play an important role in gauging players’ fitness especially that of fast-bowler Gul who is still recovering from a knee injury acquired during the South Africa tour. The test results may also prove useful for judging fast-bowler Mohammad Irfan, who for many is not fit for a 50-over format.
Meanwhile, the official added that the selectors had followed the players’ performance closely at the ongoing domestic tournament. Several players including Kamran Akmal, Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik were under the radar during the championship amid calls of injecting young blood in the team.
“The selectors are satisfied with the form and fitness of most players barring a few,” the official said without revealing names.
Karachi’s young bowlers fall short of pace
As the ‘King of Speed’ trials entered Karachi, aspiring fast-bowlers of the metropolis failed to produce the pace as they fell short of the required speed of 140kmh.
Former Test cricketers Saleem Jaffer and Tauseef Ahmed supervised the trials with the assistance of speed guns at the National Stadium where around 300 bowlers displayed their skills yesterday.
However, the youngsters failed to make an impression.
Abdul Ameer and Muhammad Imran Khan were the only two to be selected after recording a similar speed 132 kmh.
However, the Islamabad leg of trials was comparatively better as bowlers showed better pace nearing 140kmh under the supervision of former Pakistan chief selector Abdul Qadir and national junior coach Sabih Azhar.
Nasir Malick and Akhtar Ayub, who recorded speeds of 138kmh and 137kmh respectively, were selected for the second phase of the trials.
So far, as many as 10 bowlers have been shortlisted after trials in five cities — Multan, Faisalabad and Garhi Khuda Baksh being the other three.
The second round of trials will be held on Sunday in Karachi and Lahore from which three bowlers will be picked to join the national bowling camp to be held under the legendary Wasim Akram.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2013.
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