Umar Gul is confident of making a comeback to bowling in the first week of January after injuring his back on the tour of India. Gul, who took part in the ODI series, complained of a back problem and was sent home before the Tests after being diagnosed with muscle spasm.
"I have rested a lot and I feel OK now. But I have not bowled for a while and the board has asked me to appear for a fitness check-up before the PCB medical panel in Lahore," Gul said. The check-up was due to be held sometime on Thursday.
"I am looking forward to resuming bowling by the first week of next month, provided everything goes well. It is not a serious injury nor a recurrence of the back stress fracture I had two years ago."
Shafqat Naghmi, the PCB's chief operating officer, said it was premature to comment on Gul's fitness but he confirmed that the bowler had been told to take a week's rest before his check-up.
"We are confident it is nothing serious but we are prepared for any eventuality. We are facing frequent fitness problems with our main bowlers and we want to ensure they don't suffer long-term injuries," Naghmi said.
Pakistan were struggling in the fast-bowling department during the Test series. While Gul missed the Tests, Mohammad Asif was forced to miss the entire tour of India and underwent keyhole surgery on his troubling elbow earlier this week. Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami were unable to deliver 100 percent due to illness.
Gul blamed the current crammed international calender for niggling injuries to pace bowlers. "You can't escape from them [injuries] despite the improved fitness programmes we follow these days and the training regimen we go through."
Pakistan now take on Zimbabwe for a five-match ODI series at home before hosting Australia in February and March 2008.