Akhtar still far from comeback

Pakistan’s leading pace bowler, Shoaib Akhtar, has been all but ruled out of the start of his side’s forthcoming tour of England after a scan on an injured ankle. The test revealed that the hairline fracture he sustained during last year’s series against India and England has not healed properly, and therefore he will not be able to bowl for another four to six weeks.

The indication from the Pakistan Cricket Board is that Akhtar will travel to England with the squad, even if he does not make it into the side until the third or fourth Test of the series. The first Test starts at Lord’s on July 13, and with great competition for places among Pakistan’s pace attack, it will be interesting to see who is chosen in Akhtar’s stead.

Rana Naved-ul-Hasan can be considered a certain pick after strong form for Sussex in recent months, while despite indifferent showings for Leicestershire, Mohammad Asif should also be in the final XI. Other contenders include Mohammad Sami, Rao Iftikhar Anjum, and Yasir Arafat.

More news on Akhtar’s injury should be forthcoming once Pakistan’s tour squad is named over the coming weeks.

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