Akhtar's inclusion in final ODI not confirmed

PCB Chairman Ejaz Butt made it clear that national selectors would decide whether Shoaib Akhtar was fit enough to play in the final ODI against Sri Lanka.

updated: January 22, 2009 15:57 IST
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Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ejaz Butt on Thursday made it clear that national selectors would decide whether fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar was fit enough to play in the final one-day international against Sri Lanka on Saturday.

The PCB Chairman refused to be drawn into the controversy which crept up following Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik's statement after losing the second ODI that he was not happy with the fitness and commitment level of Akhtar in the first two matches.

"I don't want to interfere in the selectors work. They have to sit down and discuss with the team management and decide what to do about Akhtar," Butt said.

"My viewpoint is clear any player who is fit can be considered for national selection," he added.

A member in the selection panel said they have decided to retain the same 15-member squad for the third ODI against the Lankans in Lahore.

"There is no change in the squad now the captain and coach will have to decide what playing eleven they want. At the moment Shoaib Akhtar is part of the 15-member squad," he said.

Sources said Malik and coach Intikhab Alam would be holding discussions with chief selector Abdul Qadir to decide the final eleven for the series decider.

"At the moment they have not made up their minds because it is a crucial match and one feeling is that Shoaib (Akhtar) should be given three straight matches so that there should be no doubt over his fitness and commitment towards the team," the source said.

However, the source added a section of the selection committee was in favour of dropping Akhtar from the final ODI.

"There is no doubt that Malik was not very enthusiastic about playing Shoaib Akhtar in the series but since he has performed at the domestic level he had no choice but to pick him in the team. But now after two matches he apparently is not in favour of retaining the fast bowler," another source said.

At the post match conference after the second ODI on Wednesday, Malik said he would ask the selectors and team management to consider bringing in youngsters in the team to unearth a bowler who could bowl 10 overs and also show commitment in the field for the entire 50 overs which he felt was lacking in Akhtar in the first two matches.

Akhtar, who returned to the ODI squad after 14 months hiatus, has played just three Tests and 11 ODIs since February, 2006 due to fitness and disciplinary problems. The pacer also picked a lone wicket giving away 88 runs in the 13 overs he bowled in the first two games of the on-going series.