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Shoaib unlikely for South Africa series

Despite being cleared of doping charges by the PCB, team management and selectors consider him a risk for the series.

india Updated: Dec 24, 2006 16:58 IST

Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar is unlikely to make the Pakistan squad for the upcoming tour of South Africa, despite being cleared of doping charges by the country's cricket board.

Shoaib has been called to attend the national training camp ahead of the tour on his return to domestic cricket this month but the PCB, team management and selectors are not sure about the fitness and form of the flamboyant paceman and consider him a risk for the series.

"There are serious doubts over his fitness and form as his return to domestic cricket has not been smooth and he has faced problems," a PCB source said.

"Shoaib is struggling and the selectors are not sure if he is fit enough to make international cricket," another source said.

They said the path for return of Mohammad Asif, another pacer exonerated of the doping charges by PCB's appeals tribunal, was clear as he was bowling well for Sialkot in the ongoing Twenty20 Cup.

Shoaib is also facing tough competition from other in-form bowlers like Umar Gul, Asif, Rana Naved, Shahid Nazir and Mohammad Sami.

The chapter on the drug controversy is also not closed as the World Anti-Doping Agency have challenged the tribunal's decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sports.

This has raised serious doubts about the two bowlers' availability for the World Cup in the West Indies next year.

The selectors are expected to name the squad for the three Tests in South Africa next week and the first match of the series is scheduled from January 11 in Johannesburg.