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Pakistan await approval on Sami and Arafat

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) finally made a formal request to the ICC to allow for the inclusion of Mohammad Sami and Yasir Arafat for the World Cup as replacements for Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif. In another significant move, the PCB also received the complete medical reports on the injuries to Shoaib and Asif from its medical commission.

"We received comprehensive reports on the injuries of Shoaib and Asif which have now been sent to the ICC along with a request for the inclusion of Sami and Arafat," Dr Ahsan Malik, the PCB's director of communications, told The News. He said that the PCB is expecting a clearance from the World Cup Technical Committee shortly, adding that Sami would fly to the West Indies early on Tuesday. Arafat would wait for the result of his dope test before flying to Trinidad later this week.

Pakistan pulled out Shoaib and Asif from their 15-man squad last week saying that both would take at least three weeks to recover from injury problems. However, there were widespread suspicions that the players were withdrawn because of doping-related problems after they skipped the dope tests made mandatory by the PCB for participation in the World Cup. The PCB has denied all such speculations and opted to release the complete medical reports of the two players.

The medical commission, that includes Dr Sohail Saleem (PCB), Dr Waqar Farooqi (orthopaedic surgeon) and Dr Zia Farooqi (radiologist), met at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore to reassess the injuries of Shoaib and Asif. According to the report, Shoaib was initially examined by the medical commission on January 29 for his left hamstring injury and was advised three weeks of rehabilitation. He was able to bowl a few overs on February 23 and 24 but complained of significant pain in the left knee and in the left hamstring muscles and was advised not to bowl any further.

In a recent examination, Shoaib had some tenderness over the medial joint line of left knee. He also had some discomfort in the left hamstring when stressed.

"In view of these findings we recommend that Shoaib should continue with the supervised rehabilitation programme. However, he is not allowed to bowl unless he is re-examined by the commission in three weeks time," the report stated.

Asif's report said that he complained of pain in his right elbow for the first time in a warm-up game during Pakistan tour of England last summer. He was sent back to Pakistan and returned after four weeks. He suffered a recurrence of the problem during the tour of South Africa recently, taking pain killers to play in the ODI series and was selected for the World Cup.

However, Asif developed similar problems while bowling during the training camp but was encouraged to bowl with the pain. The report said that in a recent examination, the commission found that Asif had some tenderness over the lateral attachment of right triceps muscle in the olecranon. The last 10 degrees of flexion as well as extension were restricted because of pain.

"We recommend Asif to give rest to his right elbow for three weeks initially," the report stated. "He has been advised not to use his right arm for lifting anything or driving. He is also advised to wear an elbow support. He should have supervised rehabilitation for the next three weeks when the commission will reassess him and if every thing goes well, he may be allowed graduated bowling in the nets."

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