Fitness tests of Umar Gul, Yasir Arafat on Saturday

LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board constituted a medical panel to decide if pacer Umar Gul and all-rounder Yasir Arafat are fit to play in the Twenty20 World Cup.

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.

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 said.

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 said.

He said that there was no tear in his shoulder muscles and ligaments which meant it was not a serious injury.

“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.”

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.

He told cricket website that the injury came during fielding drills.

“I dived for the ball and landed awkwardly and jarred my shoulder. It was one of those things that can happen at the blink of an eye. It’s been painful and sore, but I’m thankful that the injury has improved greatly”.

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.

PCB announced that the medical board would examine the two players and also review their MRI scan reports to decide if they can be available for the World Cup.

“The medical board basically will give us a clear picture of whether the two players can be fit for the World Cup. Although their injuries are of grade-one category (not serious) we don’t want to take any chance with the fitness of any player for such a major event,” sources quoted a board official as saying.

He said the team management and national selectors were firm that any player even if he was 90 per cent fit would not be going to the World Cup.

“That is why the medical board will give us a clear picture of whether these two players can go to the World Cup as their initial MRI scan reports were not very clear,” he said.

The four-man medical panel includes Dr Zia Farooqi, Dr Waqar Farooqi, Dr Sohail Saleem and team physiotherapist, Faisal Hayat.