Pakistan look set to confirm Shadab Khan in their World Cup squad, after the PCB announced in a press release that the legspinning allrounder had been cleared to join up with the squad after their ODI series with England, ESPN reports.
Their captain Sarfaraz Ahmed had already allayed doubts about Shadab's fitness in comments ahead of the third ODI in Bristol. Shadab, who was struck down with a bout of hepatitis ahead of the England tour, has been recuperating back home since the start of the ODI series.
But speaking at the toss in Bristol, Sarfaraz told Sky Sports: "We have good news about Shadab. He will be fit for the World Cup and we are excited to have him back."
He is now set to leave Pakistan for England on Thursday, where he will again see a London-based specialist, before joining up with the rest of the World Cup party on Monday. Shadab's fitness to play a part in Pakistan's World Cup warm-up games will be determined nearer the time.
Shadab was quoted by the PCB release as saying: "I am delighted to know that the blood tests are negative and I can now return to competitive cricket. I was always very confident that I would fully recover from the viral infection and will be available for the World Cup." The development is a massive boost for Pakistan, who had selected Yasir Shah for this series instead. However, Yasir's ODI form is a far cry from the quality that has marked him out as an elite Test match bowler, with an ODI average of nearly 50, and he was omitted from the Bristol match after a poor game at the Ageas Bowl on Saturday. It effectively left Pakistan with two options: taking Yasir to the World Cup, or deciding to go in without a legspinner at all. Shadab's all-round ability also gave the team more flexibility with the batting order and squad selection, and as a legspinner, he is far and away the premier choice for Sarfaraz's side. Whether he will be fully fit right from the outset is unclear yet. The virus was discovered in his blood following routine medical tests that the PCB conducts on its players. However, its early detection is believed to have helped his recovery, and one day after Mohammad Amir's diagnosis of chicken pox all but ruled him out of the World Cup, Shadab's arrival will certainly be a fillip. "It is fabulous news and on behalf of the Pakistan cricket team, I look forward to welcoming Shadab back in the squad," Pakistan's coach Mickey Arthur said. "Shadab is one of the finest of his generation and is an influential figure in the team. His presence in the dressing room and on the field of play keeps the side geared up and motivated. "Shadab's inclusion also balances what is a young but extremely talented squad. I understand it will take Shadab some time to be back at his brilliant best as he has not played cricket for a few weeks, but our first game is on 31 May and he has got two weeks to regain complete form and fitness.
"He is a brave lad and the way he has fought back to regain fitness is a testament to his attitude and approach, which gives us the encouragement that he will be hopefully available for selection for our World Cup opener."