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Pakistan quick Junaid Khan out of World Cup

Frontline bowler ruled out after failing to pass a fitness test on thigh injury

Pakistan's World Cup hopes have been dealt a major blow with frontline paceman Junaid Khan ruled out after failing to pass a fitness test following a leg injury.

The 25-year-old left-armer, considered one of the country's most promising prospects in recent years, sustained a thigh injury in training last month that forced him out of the team's current tour of New Zealand.

"Junaid appeared in a fitness test and was not found fit enough to play the World Cup," a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) spokesman said on Monday.

His absence means Pakistan's attack will be led by the relatively inexperienced Mohammad Irfan, following the losses of veteran paceman Umar Gul to a knee injury and ace spinner Saeed Ajmal, who is currently suspended from bowling with an illegal action.

Allrounder Mohammad Hafeez, meanwhile, faces a race against time to get his action cleared.

He was suspended in November last year and will travel to Brisbane to be reassessed at Cricket Australia's Bupa National Cricket Centre on February 6.

Junaid was included in the 15-man squad last month but he will now likely be replaced with another seam bowler Bilawal Bhatti, a newcomer to international cricket.

Pakistan plays the second and final one-day against New Zealand on Tuesday before leaving for Australia where they play their first World Cup game against defending champions India in Adelaide on February 15.

Junaid had suffered a knee injury in October and was sidelined for two months.

Junaid said he was saddened but wished his colleagues well.

"It's a heartbreak for me," said Junaid. "I couldn't pass the fitness test and am not able to play the World Cup. All my prayers are with the team."

Pakistan's bowling attack is now set to be the least experienced among major teams in the tournament, with four rookies if Bhatti is picked.