Shoaib battling for second Test fitness
Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar is struggling to return to fitness in time for the second Test against New Zealand which starts on Friday.india Updated: Dec 24, 2003 15:51 IST
Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar is struggling to return to fitness in time for the second Test against New Zealand which starts on Friday.
Pakistan coach Javed Miandad contradicted his captain Inzamam-ul-Haq when asked about Shoaib's return from a hamstring strain after missing the drawn first Test in Hamilton.
Inzamam was categorical in saying the speedster would be available for Wellington, but Miandad trod a more cautious line.
"I can't say at the moment," he said at the post-match media conference in Hamilton. "But he's working hard and we'll have to see because we have three days before the match and it will depend how he goes."
If Shoaib does return for the second Test, Umar Gul, who bowled well in tandem with Mohammad Sami in the Test which finished on Tuesday, may be forced to make way.
The other specialist seamer, Shabbir Ahmed, probably booked his place with a five-wicket haul in New Zealand's first innings. Abdul Razzaq's battling skills allied with his medium pacers are expected to save his place.
New Zealand have brought in Paul Wiseman, the off-spinner, and if the Basin Reserve pitch looks like a dry one, he would get the nod to join Daniel Vettori in the bowling ranks.
Who to drop in that case is a tough one. Opener Lou Vincent scored eight and four and was out in his customary manner, a nick off a full delivery caught in the gully region, but with the jitters the home batting line-up showed in Hamilton, he may well be retained in the hope he may fire again.
Ian Butler could go, although he has some genuine pace that is lacking without Shane Bond, and the other option is Chris Cairns, whose bowling lacked vigour.
Pakistan will go into the match the more confident. Despite having the upper hand for most of the match by scoring 563, New Zealand surrendered superiority when they collapsed under the fast bowling onslaught of Sami and were 96 for eight before bad light, and then rain, saved them.
New Zealand: Stephen Fleming (captain), Mark Richardson, Lou Vincent, Scott Styris, Craig McMillan, Chris Cairns, Jacob Oram, Robbie Hart, Daniel Vettori, Paul Wiseman, Daryl Tuffey, Ian Butler.
Pakistan (from): Inzamam-ul-Haq (captain), Imran Farhat, Taufeeq Umar, Yasir Hameed, Yousuf Youhana, Abdul Razzaq, Moin Khan, Mohammad Sami, Shoaib Akhtar, Shabbir Ahmed, Umar Gul, Danish Kaneria.