South Africa in Pakistan 2003-04 October 20, 2003

Shoaib may play in second Test

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Shoaib Akhtar may yet play in Pakistan's second Test against South Africa, which starts on Friday (Oct 24) at Faisalabad, providing he recovers from a hamstring strain and if his ICC-imposed ban is lifted on appeal.

Shoaib was initially ruled out for three weeks after he limped off the field during the fourth day of the first Test against South Africa at Lahore, after a fiery spell which set up a probable Pakistan victory. However, medical tests showed that he was not in fact suffering from a hamstring tear as first suspected, but only had a strain, and he should now be fit in time for the second Test.

"We initially thought he had a hamstring injury. But he was made to undergo a series of tests and I am happy to say that he doesn't have a hamstring injury but a slight strain," said Dr Tauseef Razzak, the team doctor. "We are working on him and have also given him an injection to which he has responded well."

But even if Shoaib is fit in time, he still has the matter of a ban looming over his head. He was found guilty of using abusive language against Paul Adams on the first day of the Test, but the Pakistan board has filed an appeal, which will be heard by Richie Benaud.

"I am feeling much better, better than I initially thought. I can say with conviction that I will be available for selection if my appeal is upheld," insisted Shoaib. "I took painkilling injections and I feel much more comfortable. I understand that I have a big responsibility on my shoulders and I will try to live up to it."

Haroon Rashid, Pakistan's team manager, gave Shoaib his full backing. "He is an integral component of this young team. After making himself available for the second Test, he has once again showed his courage and commitment to the Pakistan cricket team," he said. "Nevertheless, he will have to pass a fitness test before he is picked for the second Test."