LAHORE - Pakistan’s hopes of having M Hafeez back bowling again for their World Cup opener against arch-rivals India have received a blow as the all-rounder’s official reassessment has been delayed by a week due to injury. He was due to appear in Brisbane on Friday but could not do so after complains of pain in his calf muscle.

Pakistan have been hit by bowling suspensions to Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal. The balance of the side has been disturbed as the team has been robbed of their two best bowlers in one-day cricket. Hafeez had worked hard in the National Cricket Academy on his rehabilitation with the coaches, while he also made rectifications to his action in the guidance of spin-bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed.

“It’s a big blow that Hafeez’s test has been delayed due to his calf injury because the team management was banking on him to get cleared ahead of the big clash against India,” a senior PCB official was quoted as saying. “Those working with the all-rounder, the team management and Hafeez himself are certain that he would clear the test this time around with ease. But any outside chances of him featuring in the opener have been dashed and the word we’ve received from Australia suggest that he would also not bowl against the West Indies because the report takes more than a week to arrive.” The management was so confident about Hafeez’s clearance that he was asked to bowl seven overs during a side match against New Zealand Board XI, despite still being banned from bowling in international cricket, as he conceded 36 runs and remained wicketless.

In the two-match one-day series against New Zealand, the 34-year-old could not open his account with the bat in the first match but played a handy knock of 86 in the second. “Now the board will ask the ICC for a change of date and hopefully the test would be done by February 13. Hafeez will be able to recover from the pain and would be fit enough to appear in the test without any hesitation, which is really important,” the official added.

It has been learnt that the touring selection committee and the team management — which includes chief selector Moin Khan, skipper Misbahul Haq and head coach Waqar Younis — were offered to include Ajmal conditionally in the squad as replacement of Junaid, but it was quickly turned down.

The team management felt that it would be a risk to include Ajmal, who is yet to get a command over his new action, even if he clears his test in the coming days.