Pakistan's Akhtar unlikely to play against South Africa

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KARACHI, Sep 20 (Reuters) Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar is unlikely to play in the test series against South Africa because of a disciplinary inquiry into his conduct starting next week.

Akhtar was sent home from South Africa a fortnight ago, before the start of the Twenty20 World Cup, after he struck team mate Mohammad Asif with a bat during a row.

The fast bowler said all rounder Shahid Afridi had provoked the brawl and that he accidentally hit Asif with the bat.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Nasim Ashraf told a news onference that the disciplinary committee would start its work in a week's time.

Asked if Akhtar would be considered for the tests against the visiting South Africa, Ashraf replied: ''We will not interfere in the working of the disciplinary committee or the selectors. This is a serious issue and will be investigated fully.'' South Africa announced a strong 14-member squad today and play the first test in Karachi from October 1. The second test starts on October 8.

Ashraf said the disciplinary committee would question all the players after they returned home from South Africa and would also investigate how news of the incident was leaked to the press.

Ashraf said he was confident that senior batsman Mohammad Yousuf would be available for the tests against South Africa despite having joined the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL). ''He is a gentleman and I am confident we can convince him to withdraw from the contract and play for Pakistan. The selectors should prepare for the tests with him in mind.'' Yousuf joined the ICL along with former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq and Imran Farhat after being dropped for the Twenty20 World Cup.

REUTERS PDS ND2106

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