The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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All eyes now on Sami
- Top PCB officials get managerial posts

Calcutta: Pakistan's tour of India is expected to begin on March 1 or 2, a delay of around a week, but the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is going ahead with Saturday's fitness tests and the Test squad's selection.

According to a well-placed source in Lahore, the tests are slated for the morning, with the selectors deliberating at 2.00 pm. Wasim Bari will chair that meeting.

Shoaib Akhtar, of course, won't feature in the exercise to be conducted by trainer Murray Stevenson and physio Darren Lifson.

In Shoaib's absence, much of the attention is going to be on Mohammed Sami, coming off a heel problem.

Sami, incidentally, has resumed domestic cricket and his fitness test could actually be a formality.

Shabbir Ahmed (recovering from knee surgery) and Mohammed Khalil (coming off a shoulder injury) will also be under scrutiny.

'Coach (Bob) Woolmer and the captain (Inzamam-ul Haq) are going to be present when the Samis go flat out and, so, they too will have a say in their selection or otherwise,' the source told The Telegraph.

He confirmed that Umar Gul, who hasn't played since his mind-blowing effort (12-2-31-5, in the first innings) against India at the Gaddafi last April, continues to be on the unfit list.

Meanwhile, the PCB has named director (cricket operations) Saleem Altaf as manager and Asad Mustafa (general manager, logistics) as assistant manager for the tour.

That two highly-ranked functionaries have been given managerial posts is significant: After the controversies on the recent tour of Australia, the players are going to be 'watched'.

Altaf, who has himself played both Tests and ODIs, will almost surely also serve as a medium of communication between Woolmer and those players who aren't fluent in English.

Till Australia, that was part of Haroon Rashid's (unwritten, though) brief.

The PCB chose Altaf after three gentlemen ' Moin Afzal, Asad Jahangir and his younger brother Majid Khan ' declined for one reason or the other.

Besides three Tests, Pakistan are going to play six ODIs ' the selection of that squad will be later.

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