Pakistan cricket looks headed for another showdown after Shoaib Akhtar was named captain of the Islamabad Leopards for next week's RBS Twenty20 Cup, just two days after he was dropped from Pakistan's squad for the World Twenty20 due to a skin infection. The ICC has also confirmed that Rao Iftikhar Anjum will replace him in the World Twenty20 squad.
"He (Shoaib) has told us that he is fit so we have no reason to drop him," Islamabad Cricket Association president Shakil Shaikh told the Associated Press. "We have not received any medical report of Akhtar from the Pakistan Cricket Board."
A PCB-appointed three-member medical panel said on Thursday that Shoaib would need a minimum of ten days to recover from his condition, which prompted the Pakistan board to jettison Shoaib from the squad the same day.
Shoaib's ailment had initially ruled him out of the training camp the team attended in Bhurban, a mountainous hill resort near Islamabad but he had been confident of recovering in time for next month's World Twenty20.
"It's the basic fundamental right of the player that if he says he is fit you can't stop him from playing," Shaikh said after naming Shoaib as captain for the five-day domestic tournament starting on Monday in Lahore.
Should Shoaib play - and perform - it will inevitably lead to questions over why he was dropped from the squad, after having been picked in the first place. The popular Twenty20 tournament will have 18 matches, and has a prize money of 4.44m rupees (approx US $55,000), and will feature all members of Pakistan's squad for the World Twenty20.