Talat Ali, the Pakistan manager, soothed fears over Shoaib Akhtar's fitness after the bowler caused a minor stir by walking off the field in a practice match between Pakistan probables at a camp being held at the National Stadium Karachi.
Shoaib bowled three unsuccessful overs in the searing afternoon heat before going off. He returned later for another bowl, this time completing his four-over quota, though he was given some rough treatment by Salman Butt and Imran Nazir.
Talat said the absence was due to dehydration and nothing else. "It was hot, very humid and he got dehydrated. We gave him water and time to recover. He was a little dizzy because of the dehydration but he was fine after a cold shower and lots of water."
Shoaib took the field initially with strapping on his left knee and, coupled with his absence from practice matches yesterday, led some to suggest he was carrying an injury. "It's nothing serious," Talat said. "The strapping was only for support and nothing major. He was working out before as well and with the heat and the fact that he bowls so fast, it can happen. It's not a fitness issue at all. In our Abbottabad training camp [in June] he was the fittest guy there."
Since the beginning of 2006, Shoaib has suffered from serious injuries to both knees and his ankle. Along with the doping scandal, it has resulted in him playing four ODIs and one Test in that time. It has led to calls that Shoaib be used selectively in future to prolong his career, though Talat would only acknowledge that the board will have to nurse him along.
"We will use him whenever he is required. We have to look after him and nurse him along," he said. "He has just come back from a long gap out and anyway we can't expect him to bowl 100mph every match."
The arrival of Geoff Lawson as Pakistan's new coach will also play a role. "He was a good fast bowler so he will be able to work closely with Shoaib and plan with him. It's a joint thing and the management and Shoaib have to work together on it. He is our star bowler and he wins us matches."