Gul will go only if he is 100% fit - Mohsin Khan
Pakistan's ongoing preparations for the ICC World Twenty20 received a boost in Lahore, where Umar Gul bowled his first overs in a week as he began his recovery from an injury that had threatened to - and still might ultimately - rule him out of the tournament in the West Indies.
Despite the latest development, PCB chief selector Mohsin Khan sais that Gul will join the team for the tournament only if he is completely fit. "I will send Gul to the West Indies only when he is 100 per cent fit," Mohsin said.
Gul hurt his shoulder last week during a fielding drill at the camp when he landed awkwardly and had not bowled since then. Pakistan's management was understood to be seriously concerned over the blow to their leading bowler in the format and a vital contributor in their triumph last year in England.
But the injury may not have been as serious as was initially assessed, and Gul felt hopeful enough after a light bowl that he would be fit in time for the tournament, due to begin on April 30.
"The shoulder is better and I bowled three overs today at the camp off a short run," Gul told Cricinfo. "Thankfully there was no fracture or ligament damage and, though I felt a little stiff after the bowl, it feels a lot better now. I will start bowling off my full run in the next day or so and I am hopeful that I will be fine for the World Twenty20. There are still three to four days to go in the camp so there is time yet."
It is believed the Pakistan camp feels Gul is improving day by day and is monitoring him keenly during practice.
Though Gul has undergone a dip in form across all three formats since Pakistan's title-winning run last year, he remains a key component of the side. New coach Waqar Younis has ironed out a body alignment issue that was preventing Gul from getting the swing he usually does, and the belief in the camp is that it will help him return to the form of the first half of last year. Gul was Pakistan's leading wicket-taker in both World Twenty20s, usually coming on in the death overs and bowling a mix of reverse-swinging yorkers, bouncers and back of length deliveries straight through to the end. He is the format's leading wicket-taker around the world, with 43 scalps.
The final decision about Gul's inclusion will be taken by Tuesday.
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo