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Pak, SA to make changes for Test decider

Dale Steyn, SA's fastest bowler, is expected to return after recovering from a thigh strain and Nel is expected to sit out.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2007 14:42 IST

Both teams are expected to make changes in crucial positions for the decisive third and final Test between South Africa and Pakistan starting at Newlands on Friday.

Pakistan will be without injured fast bowler Shoaib Akthar who had a meteoric impact on the series in what was effectively a single day of action.

Shoaib's express pace sent South Africa crashing to 124 all out on the first day in Port Elizabeth, setting up Pakistan for their eventual series-levelling five-wicket win.

He took four for 36 but apart from a brief innings with the bat, Shoaib took no further part in the match because of a hamstring strain.

Both Shoaib and fellow fast bowler Umar Gul, who did not play in either of the first two Tests because of an ankle injury, went home after the Port Elizabeth Test to undergo rehabilitation treatment.

Shabbir Ahmed was expected to arrive in Cape Town on Thursday as a replacement for the fast bowlers but captain Inzamam-ul-Haq said he was unlikely to play in the Test. He said Shahid Nazir, who was disappointing in the first Test, was likely to earn a recall.

South Africa will also have changes in their fast bowling attack. Dale Steyn, the country's fastest bowler, is expected to return after recovering from a thigh strain and Andre Nel, who bowled poorly in Port Elizabeth, seems sure to sit out the final Test.

Discusssions were due to be held about the possibility of resting key bowlers Makhaya Ntini and Shaun Pollock, with a five-match one-day series and the World Cup ahead.

The pitch appeared hard and had a good covering of grass, unlike the pitch for the India match which Smith likened to Kolkata's Eden Gardens.

Batsman Boeta Dippenaar joined the South African squad on Wednesday as cover for Herschelle Gibbs, the decision on whose appeal against a two-Test ban for using abusive language is expected.

If the ban is upheld, Gibbs will be unable to play and it is expected that Dippenaar will come in as an opening batsman, with AB de Villiers moving down the order to fill Gibbs' place.

Dippenaar was called up because Jacques Rudolph, who it was originally announced would replace Gibbs if necessary, has been released from his Cricket SA contract to take up an offer to play for English county Yorkshire as a Kolpak player.