| Shoaib Akhtar in Calcutta on Tuesday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta, Nov. 27: Shoaib Akhtar was admitted to a city hospital today with viral fever and fatigue, dealing an injury-scarred Pakistan its biggest scare ahead of Friday’s make-or-break Test.
“He has a viral infection. Blood tests and an X-ray have been done,” said V.R. Ramanan, medical director, Apollo Gleneagles Hospital. “He has been given antibiotic fluids.”
Team media manager Ahsan Malik hoped that the fast bowler, Pakistan’s bowling spearhead in the Delhi Test with six wickets, would be discharged tomorrow.
“Shoaib had fever in Delhi yesterday. He was feeling weak on arrival here. He will be kept under observation till tomorrow. Hopefully….”
It was at the Eden Gardens in early 1999 that the Rawalpindi Express had come of age as a bowler, yorking Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar off successive balls to turn the game around for his team.
Shoaib looked downcast and struggled to speak as he was taken out of the team hotel’s side gate to be driven to hospital.
Pakistan has been racked by injury worries since losing the opening Test. Misbah-ul Haq, the visitors’ most consistent batsman in Delhi, caught a virus during the game while opener Salman Butt, the second-innings highest scorer, has a sore throat. Captain Shoaib Malik, who sprained his ankle playing football, limped into the hotel from the team bus this afternoon.
“There are still two days to go. Hopefully Shoaib and the others will be okay. Misbah is recovering well and Butt’s illness is not too serious,” Ahsan said. Still, an ambulance was kept ready at the hotel.
Hospital officials had been told in the morning that four or five Pakistani cricketers would come for examination. But after the team reached Calcutta, it was decided a doctor would visit the hotel.
Dr S. Bandyopadhyay, senior consultant (internal medicine), advised hospital admission for Shoaib alone. “He rested the whole evening and asked not to be disturbed,” a hospital official said. The cricketer is on normal diet.
The one good news for Pakistan was that seamer Umar Gul had recovered from the back injury that kept him out of the Delhi Test. He might replace Mohammad Sami, expensive and wicketless in Delhi.