There is a good news and bad news for Pakistan from the infirmary — the bad news was especially disturbing.
Misbah-ul-Haq, who played through a throat infection in the Delhi Test, is recovering; captain Shoaib Malik, who twisted his ankle in practice soon after the loss at the Kotla on Monday, is also better.
Mohammad Sami, the second string in the Pakistan pace attack but who was completely ineffectual in Delhi, is also sick, according to a team source, though his malady is “mild”.
Now the real bad news — Shoaib Akhtar, the only Pakistan bowler who looked like taking wickets in the first Test, was taken to hospital, to be put on an intravenous drip, “so that he could recover faster”.
“The doctor diagnosed a chest infection and said it was advisable to put Shoaib on injectible antibiotics and intravenous fluids. He has been admitted to the hospital,” said Ehsan Malik, the team’s media manager.
A spokesman for Apollo Gleneagles Hospital said Akhtar had complained of breathing trouble, with cough and fever. The spokesman also said that doctors have prescribed several antibiotics and expectorants for the Pakistan pacer.
Akhtar was scheduled to be in hospital till 12 in the night, though a source said that he could remain in the hospital for the night, depending on the doctors’ opinion. “He could have been treated in his hotel room too, but being hospitalised would ensure a faster recovery,” the source said.
When HT talked with Akhtar in the evening, he had an intravenous drip on him.
“I was unwell in Delhi, but it got worse after I reached Kolkata,” he said. “Misbah was also unwell, and perhaps that caused my infection.”
“On the fourth day of the game, I was running high fever — 101°F,” he said, breaking off to cough liberally. “I was completely exhausted after the match… It was a very tiring experience at the Kotla.”
And Akhtar has not been in peak fitness. He was seen using an inhaler during the one-day series and at nets, but Pakistan trainer David Dwyer recently averred that Akhtar is not asthmatic.
Akhtar had represented Pakistan on just 10 match days in the year before the Delhi Test.
He was sent back from South Africa before the Twenty20 World Cup could begin after a dressing room row with Mohammad Asif. After making a comeback into the ODI team late last month against South Africa, Akhtar has played five ODIs. His only other appearance for Pakistan in the year was the Port Elizabeth Test against South Africa in January.
“I believe I’ll be fit for the second Test,” said Akhtar. And Pakistan, one down in the series, would also hope that, desperately.