Pakistan will fly out to the West Indies for the World Cup on Thursday without Shoaib Akhtar or Mohammad Asif, the two fast bowlers currently under a cloud of fitness and doping-related issues.
"Both fast bowlers are in England for medical check-ups and they won't be going with the team to the West Indies," team spokesman PJ Mir told Cricinfo.

Asif is suffering from an elbow injury while Shoaib has a problematic knee. But both have also yet to be dope-tested by the PCB, a test the board says they have to clear before they can join the squad in the Caribbean. Speculation has been rampant over the nature of their trips to the UK, the increasing belief among many now that they are there to try and resolve issues stemming from their positive dope tests last October. The PCB has denied this.

"Asif is expected to return home Thursday and Akhtar will be back in Pakistan on Friday," Mir added. Once they have returned, an assessment will be made of their medical reports and a decision finally made as to whether or not they are fit enough to go. Only then will they undergo the dope tests the remaining 18 players (including five reserves) underwent and cleared last week.

"If Akhtar and Asif are declared medically fit then they have to go through PCB's process of dope testing," Mir said.

All of which means that Pakistan, unbelievably, are still not sure of the final make-up of their squad and playing XI for the opening game of the tournament, against West Indies in Jamaica on March 13. If neither do go they will join Abdul Razzaq, ruled out of the World Cup due to a knee injury only yesterday, as high-profile absentees from the tournament for Pakistan.