Pakistani pace duo Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif moved one step closer to returning to international cricket after being included among the 25 probables for the tour of South Africa starting next month.
Akhtar and Asif were banned for two years and one year respectively after testing positive for banned steroid nandrolone in October. But the two cricketers appealed successfully against the verdict and had their bans lifted.
Also featurning in the list was Shabbir Ahmed who just completed a one-year ban for having an illegal bowling action.
Although it is feared that traces of nandrolone remain in body for six months, a PCB official said they were taking the risk of including Akhtar and Asif since the tour was a bilateral affair and ICC regulations would not apply to it.
"If Akhtar and Asif don't clear the dope tests they would not be selected for the World Cup. But since the series against South Africa is a bilateral one and the ICC anti-doping regulations don't apply to it, they can play without fears of any repercussions," a PCB official said.
The selectors have also included all-rounder Shahid Afridi although there were concerns he would not be considered for the tour because of his poor form.
Probables: Imran Farhat, Muhammad Hafeez, Yasir Hameed, Salman Butt, Younis Khan, Muhammad Yousaf, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Akhtar Malik, Faisal Iqbal, Asim Kamal, Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal, Danish Kaneria, Abdul Rehman, Shoaib Akhtar, Muhammad Asif, Shahid Nazir, Rana Naveed, Umar Gul, Muhammad Sami, Rao Iftikhar, Shahid Afridi, Zulqarnain Haider Yasir Arafat, Shabbir Ahmed.