Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ramiz Raja has said Pakistan's pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi is recovering from his injury, underlining that the latter is hopeful of his availability in a high-profile T20 World Cup match against India on Oct 23.
Shaheen was ruled out of the recent T20 Asia Cup and the T20 home series against England as the medical panel had advised the bowler four to six weeks rest due to a right knee ligament injury he suffered during the Test series in Sri Lanka in July.
The arch-rivals — Pakistan and India — will lock horns at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on October 23, a day after Australia begin their title defence against New Zealand in Sydney.
The 16-nation tournament will begin on October 16 with Sri Lanka facing Namibia in Geelong — one of seven venues as Australia hosts for the first time.
Speaking in the Dawn News show "Replay" today, Raja said Shaheen had informed the team management about significant improvement in his fitness.
"We were of the opinion that we will not take a risk until Shaheen is 110 per cent fit," he said, adding knee injuries were quite "technical and sensitive".
However, the PCB chairman quoted Shaheen as saying that he would undergo training sessions before joining the side in the important game.
'Pakistan capable of winning the World Cup'
The PCB chief said every team was dangerous in the T20 World Cup, while maintaining that Pakistan was capable of claiming the title.
Raja said he tried to empower the captain once he became the PCB head. "We have provided the team with the best available resources to win the World Cup."
He said opener Fakhar Zaman was recovering from his injury, while Usman Qadir suffered a hairline injury to his finger.
He described a match against India as always a test of nerves. "The Indian team has also started respecting Pakistan, especially after they realised that Pakistan can win any match against them."
The PCB chief said the team must be spared from criticism for now as they were out on a mission to play the World Cup. He insisted that the current squad had the potential to do well in the mega tournament.
He, however, said players should not be targeted individually.
The middle order is a problem, but there are certain good things which should not be forgotten, the PCB chairman said, as he hoped a few problems would be addressed in time to come.
Raja said his administration was endeavouring hard to improve the overall system in the board.
"With the grace of God, I will prepare the best team for the future," the PCB chief vowed.