Karachi, July 23 : Reliable sources in the PCB have disclosed that the Board was mulling over including fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar in the team as 16th member for next month's Twenty20 quadrangular in Toronto.
Shoaib was not among the probables who were selected last week, as he has not paid the Rs 70-lakh fine imposed by a tribunal.
According to the PCB sources, the step could help the injury-prone fast bowler to regain his match fitness faster than if he stayed away from the Pakistan team.
Pakistan feature in a four-nation T20 contest in Toronto from August 14-17 alongside the West Indies, Bangladesh and hosts Canada.
Shoaib (32) last played for Pakistan in their third Test against India in Bangalore in December 2007. Since then he has been out of international action either due to injury or suspension owing to his bad behaviour.
He was picked in Pakistan's 30-man preliminary squad for September's ICC Champions Trophy, but there were doubts whether he would be able get back in shape ahead of the eight-nation tournament.
The Board's fitness trainers have given Shoaib a training regime to follow and the pacer, who is working out at Lahore's National Cricket Academy, is confident that he could be fit for the match within the next six weeks.
However, some senior officials in the PCB believe that Shoaib could attain fitness faster if he was made a part of the Pakistan team as soon as possible.
The proponents of this idea are of the view that the player would be able to focus more on his fitness if he trains alongside his team-mates. More than the fitness angle, Shoaib (who doesn't enjoy very good relationship with some of his colleagues) should make a return to the Pakistan dressing room much before the start of the Champions Trophy. They believe that Shoaib has spent a lot of time away from his team-mates and will need some time to readjust, reported The News.
"We believe that Shoaib should be included in the Pakistan team as a non-playing 16th member. Such a step will help Shoaib to regain his fitness and to get back in the groove," the paper quoted an unidentified Board official as saying.
He added: "It will also help other players to fully accept his return. Shoaib has been a controversial character in recent times and isn't exactly very popular among his most of his fellow players. They will all need some time to come to terms with his return. That is why there is a feeling among some officials of the Board that he should be brought in the team for the Toronto event."
Story first published: Wednesday, July 23, 2008, 11:02 [IST]
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