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Anwar is Shoaib’s first ‘victim’

Johannesburg: Pakistan pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar has claimed his first World Cup ‘victim’ — teammate Saeed Anwar.

Opening batsman Anwar has been ruled out of both the team’s warm-up matches after ending up in hospital following a blow on the left elbow.

The injury is not serious, but the team management has been quick to act and take all precautionary measures to make sure that their star batsman is available for all their matches in the World Cup proper.

Team manager Shahryar Khan said: “He was hit while batting at nets and had two scans. There’s no fracture, it’s just bruising. He’s out for three or four days. “Anything from Shoaib hitting the body is pretty lethal,” he said. Pakistan were playing Gauteng in Lenasia, just outside Johannesburg, in their first warm-up game Tuesday. They play Easterns in Benoni Thursday. All the contestants in the World Cup have been assigned two warm-up matches each. Only hosts South Africa get to play three matches.

Shoaib, challenging Australia’s Brett Lee as the fastest bowler in the world and dubbed the ‘Rawalpindi Express’, was unofficially timed bowling at 100.04mph (161kmph) last year.

The 34-year-old Anwar, the holder of the world record one-day score of 194, has just been recalled to the team after a long spell in the wilderness in an attempt to bolster Pakistan’s batting, which has failed to show its excellence of not to long ago.

And Pakistan go right into the deep of the battle in the Cup, having to face Australia in the opening match itself, a repeat of the 1999 World Cup final, on February 11 at the Wanderers ground in Johannesburg. And considering the reputation that has preceded the Aussies, Pakistan can barely afford to miss any of their stars. (Agencies)

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