Malik unfit for must-win match

Shoaib Malik has pulled out of Pakistan's critical encounter with India in the Asia Cup after failing to recover from dehydration. Speculation had surrounded Malik's place in the side yesterday, after he failed to turn up for practice because he was receiving treatment. He eventually arrived, drip on his arm, had a discussion with selectors and announced himself fit to play. In a surprising move, the selectors then publicly announced the playing XI a day before the game, choosing to name Malik in the side.

With Malik pulling out, though, Misbah-ul-Haq, the vice-captain who was not even in the team this time last year, will now take over as captain, while Nasir Jamshed will take his place in the side as opener.

Malik suffered initially from dehydration following his hundred against India, but he played in Pakistan's next match against Sri Lanka, scoring a fifty but taking 30 overs to do it. But there has been little improvement in his condition, despite a few days' rest. He took a fitness test at the National Stadium just before the toss, but was visibly suffering.

"I am ready for the captaincy," Misbah told reporters yesterday, at which point Malik's place was unclear. "When you are vice-captain you always are ready for nearly everything, so I am ready for it. I will take along the team with me and win the match."

Pakistan have also called up Saeed Ajmal, the offspinner, for his debut as well as giving Abdur Rauf his second ODI.