Pakistan fitness concerns ahead of World T20

LAHORE: Pakistan face an anxious wait to know whether Twenty20 expert Umar Gul will be fit for the World Twenty20 as the team manager expressed hope Tuesday that the fast bowler can play.

The 25-year-old Gul sustained a shoulder injury while fielding at a training camp in the eastern city of Lahore last week, but managed to bowl with a short run-up on Tuesday.

All-rounder Yasir Arafat, 28, also injured his calf muscle and is awaiting a fitness test before the team departs on April 24.

The third edition of the World Twenty20 will be held in the West Indies from April 30 to May 16. Pakistan, the defending champions, are placed in Group A alongside Australia and Bangladesh.

Team manager Yawar Saeed said Gul felt no pain and is on the path to recovery.

"We had MRI scans on both Gul and Arafat and a radiologist also examined them. Gul bowled three overs in the nets with a short run-up and felt no pain, so we are hopeful and will take fitness test on Saturday," Saeed told AFP.

Gul is the most successful bowler in Twenty20 history with 43 wickets in 26 matches and also recorded best-ever figures in a Twenty20 match when he took 5-6 against New Zealand in the World Twenty20 in England last year.

Arafat has played just seven T20 matches, taking six wickets. He was replaced mid-way through last year''s World Twenty20 in England after sustaining an injury.

Saeed said there will be no compromise on fitness.

"We have already said no half-fit players will go for an important event like the World Twenty20, so we will examine both players extensively before taking a final decision," he said.

Pakistan play Bangladesh on May 1 before taking on Australia the next day -- with both matches in St Lucia.

Gul was also confident he will recover in time for the team''s departure.

"I bowled three overs in the camp off a short run," he told AFP.

"It''s not a serious injury and the pain has subsided in the last two days. I felt no pain today, so God willing I will start bowling with full run-up before Saturday."