Shoaib faces Oval waiting game
by AFP

Ground:Kennington Oval, Kennington
Player:Shoaib Akhtar
Event:Pakistan in British Isles 2006

DateLine: 14th August 2006


Pakistan pace spearhead Shoaib Akhtar faces an agonising wait before he finds out whether or not he will play in the fourth and final Test against England at The Oval.


Shoaib, who hadn't played since January because of a stress fracture of his ankle, made a comeback here at the weekend but his hopes of impressing coach Bob Woolmer were washed away by heavy rain.


He managed just 11 overs and took one wicket in Saturday's one-dayer against the West Indies A team before Sunday's second game was abandoned without a ball being bowled.


Woolmer now must decide if he should risk the 31-year-old Shoaib in the final match of a series Pakistan have already lost 2-0 or keep his key fast bowler fresh for the one-day series which starts on August 30.


"We saw enough of Shoaib on Saturday to hold on to him and we'll make a decision later on in the week as to whether we play him or not," Woolmer said.


"We're erring on the side of the caution. He did look very fit on Saturday but obviously short of match practice. Overall I thought he looked very good.


"Everything happens for a reason and maybe this is a sign that he is not ready to play in a Test match. But it's not just up to me, there's the captain involved and a whole medical team as well, not to mention Shoaib himself."


Woolmer must also keep the Champions Trophy in mind, the mini-World Cup tournament taking place in India in October where Shoaib could play a key role.


"The management think that if he is ready for the five one-day internationals then that would be the perfect scenario," Woolmer said.


"He'll have 10 overs a game and he can really start to get fit and then he's got the Champions Trophy."

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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