Pakistan pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar has flown to Australia for exploratory arthroscopic surgery on his knees in an effort to combat a potentially career-ending condition.
The 30-year-old strike bowler has been diagnosed with a degenerative arthritic condition in both his knees.
Fellow Pakistani cricketer Saqlain Mushtaq suffered from the same condition and has struggled to return to international cricket since his surgery a few years ago.
Melbourne surgeon Dr David Young is going to have a look at the state of the damage to Shoaib's knees and at the same time remove some floating sediment that has been hampering the Rawalpindi Express.
In any case, the right-arm bowler will be sidelined for the next two months before he can starting training again. This will mean he will be unavailable for Pakistan's tour to Sri Lanka in March and he is in danger of missing the tour to England beginning in June.
Pakistan is desperate to have the fast bowler fully fit for the tour of England where it plays four Tests and five limited-overs matches.
Shoaib, who has taken 165 Test and 199 limited-overs wickets, starred in the Pakistan's last series against England in November. He took 17 wickets and scored valuable runs to help Pakistan to a 2-0 win in the three Tests and 3-2 win in the ODIs.
The diagnosis is a further blow to the amiable Shoaib who suffered an ankle injury in the recent Test series against India which forced him to sit out the one-day series.