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Ihsanullah flies to UK for treatment for elbow injury

Pakistan and Multan Sultans fast bowler Ihsanullah has left Pakistan for the UK for further medical treatment as he rehabilitates from a long-term elbow injury.

The PCB said he would meet an orthopaedic surgeon specialising in sports injuries and elbow procedures and that it would foot the entire bill for Ihsanullah’s treatment, which is significant because that has been a matter of contention.

Ihsanullah sustained an elbow injury in April 2023 following a white-ball series against New Zealand. At the time, the PCB did not believe the injury was severe and the initial treatment, which involved gym and weight work, potentially played a part in turning it into a much more serious one.

There were almost no official updates on Ihsanullah in the year that followed, but his case received widespread media attention earlier this month when Multan Sultans owner Ali Tareen accused the PCB of failing to provide appropriate treatment to the player, and said the franchise had borne a significant chunk of his expenses. He told ESPNcricinfo that Ihsanullah would likely require further surgery and later spoke to PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi about the player.

The PCB’s chief medical officer Dr Sohail Saleem defended himself and the PCB in an interview with ESPNcricinfo, denying mishandling the case. However, he did admit to a “delay in the proper diagnosis,” one that is widely believed to have exacerbated the injury.

The PCB said the appointment with the UK-based orthopaedic surgeon Dr Adam Watts was secured after a collaboration with Multan Sultans, and that further updates would follow after Watts’ assessment and diagnosis.

Ihsanullah’s case has shone a spotlight on a PCB medical record that has been patchy at best, especially when it comes to managing fast bowlers’ return from injury. Several players, as well as coaching and management staff, have privately expressed to ESPNcricinfo that there is a trust deficit between several players and Dr Saleem, an issue that is likely to be thrown into sharper relief now.

In the last two years, multiple Pakistan fast bowlers have suffered lengthy injury layoffs. In July 2022, Shaheen Shah Afridi suffered a knee ligament injury that was also initially undiagnosed. He attended camps and travelled with the team for a month before flying to the UK while paying for himself and staying in a two-star hotel as he sought independent treatment. It was only after Shahid Afridi complained publicly that the PCB said they would cover all of Shaheen’s expenses.

Naseem Shah was known to be managing a back and shoulder complaint that caused him discomfort in the build-up to his right shoulder injury, which happened two months after Afridi was injured, and caused a six-month lay-off. That led to Naseem missing the 2023 ODI World Cup and the Australia tour that followed.

Mohammad Hasnain only recently returned from a long injury lay-off, while Khurram Shahzad was ruled out with a long-term injury following his Test debut in Perth last year.

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