KARACHI // The Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson has warned that Shoaib Malik will be risking his health if he plays against India today. Malik, the Pakistan captain, suffered dehydration in his side's first meeting with India. He was on a drip the evening before the game against Sri Lanka two days later, yet played on and even scored a half-century. He has not trained since, and will only be back if the team doctor gives him the go-ahead. "His hotel room is like a hospital ward and when he came off the field against Sri Lanka he was very ill," said Lawson.
"It is not something to joke about, athletes have died of dehydration so we can't take a risk with his health. Only the doctors will decide." The game is a crucial one for both Malik and Lawson. Despite his bravery, the captain has suffered severe criticism for his leadership during the Asia Cup. Defeat is likely to spell the end of an ill-fated stint for Lawson. He was forced to give a letter of apology to the Pakistani press corps, who walked out in disgust at his conduct in a press conference following their loss to Sri Lanka on Sunday.
The Pakistan Cricket Board are said to be losing patience with the abrasive Australian. In contrast, Lawson's counterpart Gary Kirsten was afforded good news yesterday when Irfan Pathan was passed fit to return following his side strain. Kirsten said: "Irfan has worked very hard with the trainer for the last few days to make a comeback and his availability is a definite plus point for us." Pakistan have to win today to stand a faint chance of reaching Sunday's final. Even then they would still be reliant on Bangladesh causing a major shock and upsetting India in the final Super Four match on Friday.