Pakistan's Akhtar, Gul to return home
by Cricket Archive Staff reporter

Player:Umar Gul, Shoaib Akhtar
Event:Pakistan in South Africa 2006/07

DateLine: 24th January 2007


Pakistan's injured pace duo Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul will miss the rest of the team's tour of South Africa to undergo rehabilitation for the World Cup, an official said Monday.


"The team management in South Africa have told us that both Akhtar and Gul need time to regain fitness so they are returning home and will undergo rehabilitation," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) spokesman Ahsan Malik told AFP. Malik said no replacements have been sought for next week's third Test but two to three players would be sent to join the team ahead of the one-day series which starts next month. The 31-year-old Akhtar, only sent as a replacement for Gul earlier this month, tore a hamstring muscle on the first day of the second Test between Pakistan and South Africa. Akhtar made a triumphant return to Test cricket after almost a year, taking 4-36 to help Pakistan bowl out South Africa for 124 in the first innings but failed to bowl in the second innings. A scan on Akhtar's injury revealed he needs two weeks' rest, said Malik. "It is advisable for Akhtar to regain fitness in Pakistan before the World Cup in the West Indies which is just two months away," said Malik. Reports said Akhtar is also feared to have a recurrence of a knee injury. He underwent twin knee operations in February last year which forced him out of Pakistan's tours of Sri Lanka and England. Akhtar returned to play the one-day series against England in August but was banned for two years in November after he tested positive for a banned steroid. A month later, a PCB appellate committee overturned the ban on the grounds that he did not take the substance knowingly, a decision challenged by the World Anti-Doping Agency in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. The court is likely to hear the appeal next month. The 23-year-old Gul twisted his ankle before a three-day warm up match in South Africa and has since failed to regain full fitness. Malik said all-rounder Shoaib Malik would stay with the team as his ankle injury, which forced him to miss the Tests, is likely to heal before the five-match one-day series.


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