Shoaib Akhtar, who this week was issued an ultimatum by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), has now been included in a preliminary 20-man squad for next month's Canada Cup Four Nation Twenty20 tournament. It was earlier reported that Shoaib would not be eligible to play in Canada after he was left out of Islamabad's squad for the upcoming National Twenty20 tournament, but the News, a local daily, said the selectors have included his name for Canadian visa purposes.
The PCB sought advice from the Lahore High Court on whether it can allow Shoaib to return to competitive cricket even if he delays paying the outstanding fine, but his lawyers have reportedly assured the board that the issue will be resolved soon. Bilal Minto, Shoaib's layer, told PTI: "There is no problem with paying the fine but we feel that since the case is in court we can wait for the court to reach a decision and than if it says pay the fine we will pay it. It is not a real issue."
The squad is expected to be trimmed to 15 for the Toronto series, which runs from October 10-13. Pakistan will leave for Canada on October 8.
Meanwhile Shoaib Malik, Pakistan's captain, said he and his team-mates were keen to play international cricket given the drought in the country. "We haven't played any competitive cricket in the last several weeks and are itching to get back into action. The National Twenty20 Cup will provide us an excellent opportunity to regain our form and rhythm before the four-nation event. Twenty20 is a very unpredictable format and you can't take any opposition for granted."
Pakistan's last international series was the Asia Cup at home earlier this summer. They were supposed to host the ICC Champions Trophy in September but the tournament was postponed due to security concerns.