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Page last updated at 16:55 GMT, Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Shoaib awarded Pakistan contract

Shoaib Akhtar
Shoaib has had a long-running dispute with the PCB

Shoaib Akhtar has been given a chance to revive his international career after being given a central contract by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

The controversial fast bowler, 33, missed out on a contract last year through injury and lack of fitness.

Akhtar was named in the top 'A' category, while Shoaib Malik retains the captaincy.

Two uncapped players, Umar Amin and Azhar Ali, are included on the list but there is no place for Mohammad Asif.

Seam bowler Asif is banned after testing positive for drugs during the Indian Premier League while he was also held at Dubai Airport on suspicion of possessing a recreational drug, before being released after 19 days with the charges dropped.

"The 26 have been picked on the basis of seniority and performances in the last 12 months," said PCB chief operating officer Saleem Altaf.

"If the selectors believe some other player is performing and deserves to be on the list he can also be included."


Akhtar played only three Twenty20 internationals last year and despite being in the squad to face West Indies in Abu Dhabi in November, he was again ruled out through injury.

He was given a five-year ban - later reduced and then suspended - after he criticised PCB officials for failing to give him a contract last January.

Pakistan did not play a Test in 2008. Australia postponed their tour after the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, and their hosting of the Champions Trophy in September was postponed after some of the participating countries expressed concerns over security.

Their schedule for the beginning of this year is looking equally uncertain.

India's tour, which was scheduled to start this month, was cancelled in the wake of the terror attacks in Mumbai. Details are now being worked on for an alternative tour by Sri Lanka, and that is likely to be followed by a one-day series in Bangladesh.

Australia may also visit later in the year depending on security before Pakistan themselves tour Sri Lanka and Australia.

Centrally contracted players:

Shoaib Malik, Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis Khan, Danish Kaneria, Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Shahid Afridi, Yasir Hameed, Mohammad Hafeez, Sohail Tanvir, Faisal Iqbal, Yasir Arafat, Abdul Rehman, Fawad Alam, Rao Iftikhar, Sohail Khan, Nasir Jamshed, Sarfraz Ahmed, Khurrum Manzoor, Saeed Ajmal, Wahab Riaz, Umar Amin, Samiullah Niazi, Azhar Ali.

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see also
Shoaib recalled to Pakistan squad
12 Aug 08 |  Pakistan
No Pakistan contract for Shoaib
25 Jan 08 |  Pakistan
PCB chief fears divide in cricket
29 Nov 08 |  Pakistan
Sri Lanka agree to tour Pakistan
19 Dec 08 |  Cricket

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