Pakistan pacer Mohammad Asif is a doubtful starter for the home series against Australia after undergoing elbow surgery which could keep him out for three months.
"We will get a final report on his recovery period this week. But the initial estimate is that he could be out for three months," a Pakistan Cricket Board official said today.
That would mean Asif will miss the coming home series against Zimbabwe and will be unlikely to feature against Australia in March and April.
"We hope his recovery period is faster than expected as the operation has been a successful one," the official said.
Asif could not play in the ongoing series in India owing to his elbow problem. He had returned from England last year for the same reason.
However, the situation with fellow pacer Umar Gul was better.
Gul returned home from India without playing a Test after developing a back problem after the one-day series.
The fast bowler has a back spasm but it is not a recurrence of the stress fracture that kept him out of the game for a year, the official said.
Gul was presently resting in his hometown Peshawar. He had been told to report to National Cricket Academy in Lahore in a week for a check-up, he said.
The report on Shoaib Akhtar, who suffered a muscle spasm during the Bangalore Test, was not serious.
"The Board would soon sit down and chalk out a plan to ensure its pace bowlers don't break down so frequently with injuries," he said.