Despite mounting speculation about Imad Wasim‘s fitness over the last two days, the allrounder appears set to go to the World Cup with Pakistan. A chronic knee injury means he hasn’t yet passed the fitness test that 22 probables underwent on Monday, but he will undergo one ahead of the World Cup, and PCB officials are convinced he will clear it.
The PCB didn’t disclose the results of the fitness tests held at the Gaddafi Stadium on Monday, but it was clear not all 22 players passed. The case of Imad received the most intense scrutiny, especially since he had been nursing a flare-up of the knee injury that has hampered him for a while now. Since the end of the series against Australia, Imad had been at the National Cricket Academy, working on his rehabilitation. A video circulated on social media today showed him gingerly jogging up the steps of the Gaddafi stadium stands with his teammates, lending credence to the fitness concerns that had been raised over the past few days.
ESPNcricinfo understands scans reveal Imad’s knee problem does not inhibit his ability with either bat or ball, and medical staff believe the problem will clear by the time the World Cup begins at the end of May. The coaching staff have been impressed by his work ethic in the past three weeks, and that – in addition to his reduced running ability – has earned him some time with regards to passing his fitness test. There was initially talk he would undergo a test before April 18 – when chief selector Inzamam ul Haq announces the World Cup squad – but the current status of his injury means the prospect of passing such a test is remote.
The coaching staff are also pleased at the advancing fitness of several core players in the Pakistan squad, with as many as half-a-dozen having surpassed their previous times. The younger players and those who had not previously been part of the Pakistan set-up are understood to have fallen short of the mark that has been set as a non-negotiable, but are believed to be making speedy progress, with particular praise directed at 18-year old Mohammad Hasnain.
Abid Ali and Hasnain did not make the grade in the test on Monday, but since they are new to the set-up, ESPNcricinfo understands they will be given more time to reach the requisite benchmark. Officials confirmed that passing the test before the World Cup was still a non-negotiable and were confident that all players selected on Thursday would pass the test in time for Pakistan’s World Cup campaign.
Despite some players still needing to pass, there is a notable positivity to the atmosphere following the fitness tests, and a sense that the 22 players exceeded expectations. A source told ESPNcricinfo this was “the fittest, strongest squad ever” from Pakistan. Inzamam and head coach Mickey Arthur are believed to have finalised the 15 names to go to the World Cup, and the additional two that will form part of the 17-man squad for the ODI series against England prior.
These developments would appear to indicate Imad remains a firm part of the PCB’s plans ahead of the World Cup, but the chronic nature of his knee injury means complete certainty of his fitness is hard to guarantee. A chronic knee issue has also hindered the career of another contender for the squad in Haris Sohail, who missed the tour of South Africa with that problem, before returning to score two hundreds in the series against Australia.
The squad will be announced on Thursday evening by Inzamam, with the team set to depart for England on Monday April 22.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.