Shoaib hits Asif with bat, thrown out of team

Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has been recalled from South Africa ahead of the Twenty20 World Championship after he abused and hit fellow paceman Mohammad Asif with a bat, a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official said on Friday.

"During the initial inquiry (of the tour management), it came up that Akhtar not only hit Asif on the thigh with the bat, but he also used abusive language," said Shafqat Naghmi, the board's Chief Operating Officer.

Akhtar, 32, was involved in a fight with Asif after a nets session in Johannesburg where the team was practising for the meet staring September 11. Asif suffered a bruised thigh but would be fit before Pakistan's first game against Scotland on September 12.

Terming the incident as "unfortunate", Naghmi said the board would not tolerate indiscipline. He said a full inquiry would be held when Akhtar returned to Pakistan. "Shoaib admitted he had struck Asif with the bat and was apologetic, but we are treating this incident very seriously," said Naghmi.

PCB chairman Naseem Ashraf did not rule out the possibility of Akhtar facing more disciplinary action including a possible long-term ban. He said the board would not allow any player to violate team spirit. "We are giving a lot of importance to discipline and any player who violates the norms has to face the consequences," he added.

Sources said the fight between the two started after Asif and Shahid Afridi disagreed with Shoaib that he shared the same stature as Imran Khan in Pakistan cricket and even ridiculed him for making such a comparison.

The incident comes at a time when the Pakistan team was banking on Shoaib and Asif, who share the new ball, to lift them to a good performance in the Twenty20 World Championships after their debacle in the World Cup at the Caribbean earlier this year.

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