Shoaib returns to Pakistan squad for Australia series | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Shoaib returns to Pakistan squad for Australia series

Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has recovered fully from a knee injury to win a place in Pakistan's 15-man squad for this month's series against Australia announced in Karachi on Monday.

cricket Updated: Apr 06, 2009 17:45 IST

Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has recovered fully from a knee injury to win a place in Pakistan's 15-man squad for this month's series against Australia announced in Karachi on Monday.

The 33-year-old paceman was ruled out of last month's Test series against Sri Lanka -- which was abandoned after a deadly attack on the Sri Lanka team in Lahore -- because of the knee injury, which healed without surgery.

Pakistan is due to play five one-day and a Twenty20 match against the world champions in Dubai and Abu Dhabi from April 22-May 7.

"As far as Akhtar's fitness is concerned, I would say that he impressed with his fitness in the tests we conducted last week," said Chief selector Abdul Qadir. "After the tests, the trainer and doctor gave a very good fitness report on Akhtar."

Qadir said a fit Akhtar would bolster the squad in the series.

"Now it's up to Akhtar to not only remain fit but also perform. I have been saying this and I repeat that a fit Akhtar is an asset for Pakistan's team," said Qadir, a former leg-spinner.

Akhtar missed the Test series against Sri Lanka in February and March due to his knee injury. The series was called off after gunmen ambushed the Sri Lanka team's convoy in Lahore, Pakistan on March 3, killing eight Pakistanis.

He was dropped from the squad after he managed just one wicket in the two limited-over internationals against Sri Lanka in February and was not part of the squad to Bangladesh -- a tour postponed over security fears following an armed mutiny in the country.

Akhtar, however, passed demanding fitness tests last week, which paved his return to the team.

The controversial paceman has played only three Twenty20 internationals and two one-day matches in the last 16 months, which saw him mainly sidelined for fitness and discipline problems.

In April last year, Akhtar was banned for five years after he publicly criticised the Pakistan Cricket Board for omitting him from the players' central contract list.

An appeal committee reduced the ban to 18 months but levied a fine of seven million rupees (95,000 dollars).

The Lahore high court suspended the ban, however, but upheld the fine, allowing him to return to the squad for October's Twenty20 tournament in Canada.

Akhtar was also included in Pakistan's three-match series against the West Indies in November last year but was he again sidelined for the series after he suffered a hamstring injury before the first match.