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Akhtar in Pakistan World Cup squad
February 13, 2007 19:25 IST
Pakistan have included injured fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul in their 15-man squad for next month's World Cup in the Caribbean.
"These two players will undergo fitness tests later this month. If they are not passed fit, they will be replaced by reserves," Saleem Altaf, director of cricket operations for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), said on Tuesday.
Altaf also said the PCB would conduct doping tests this Friday.
Akhtar and fellow paceman Mohammad Asif were banned last year after testing positive for the steroid nandrolone before being cleared by a PCB tribunal.
"We can replace any player who fails a dope test," said Altaf while adding that the checks are a normal procedure before every major International Cricket Council tournament.
Akhtar (knee) and Gul (ankle) were sent home from the tour of South Africa due to injury. The last match of the one-day series will be played in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
The 31-year-old Akhtar, Pakistan's leading bowler with 169 Test and 208 one-day wickets, returned to the Test arena after an 11-month absence but only bowled in the first innings of the second match at Port Elizabeth before breaking down.
He also underwent knee surgery in February 2006 in Australia and since then has played in only a couple of one-day games in England and one Test.
Altaf said the fast bowler had flown to London to seek a second opinion on his knee problem as it could turn out to be career threatening.
The selectors have yet to name their reserves for the World Cup, which starts when Pakistan play hosts West Indies on March 13.
Meanwhile, leg spinner Danish Kaneria expressed his relief after being named in Pakistan's World Cup squad on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old was dropped for the one-day series in South Africa which ends in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
"I didn't give up hope of playing in my first World Cup," Kaneria said. "My selection means I can now try to complete my ambition of achieving success in one-dayers as well."
Kaneria has performed well in the Test arena, claiming 196 wickets in 46 matches. He has only made 16 one-day appearances for Pakistan.
The leg spinner believes the pitches in the Caribbean in March and April will suit the slower bowlers.
"I think the spinners are going to have a lot of success in the World Cup as many of the pitches have been relaid and traditionally conditions there help the spinners," said Kaneria.
"I am not going to experiment if I get a chance to play. It is going to be wicket to wicket and all about patience.
"I will just deliver what my captain wants."
Pakistan play hosts West Indies in the opening World Cup match on March 13.
The other teams in Group D are Zimbabwe and Ireland
Pakistan squad: Inzamam-ul-Haq (captain), Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Imran Nazir, Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul, Danish Kaneria, Rao Iftikhar, Rana Naved, Mohammad Asif, Shoaib Akhtar.