Fri, Aug 04, 2006 - Page 22 News List

Pakistan looks to keep series alive


Pakistan know only victory in the third Test against England at Headingley will be good enough to keep alive their hopes of taking the series after a crushing defeat last time out.

England's innings and 120-run win, completed inside three days, in the second Test at Old Trafford last week left them 1-0 up in the four-Test encounter after a drawn opener at Lord's.

Pakistan had no answer in Manchester to fast bowler Stephen Harmison, who took a devastating six for 19 as the tourists collapsed to a meagre 119 all out in their first innings.

From then on Pakistan were always chasing the game and defeat was made all the worse on Saturday when England slow left-armer Monty Panesar dented their deserved reputation as fine players of spin by taking five for 72, including five of the top six.

Meanwhile the major handicap that has dogged Pakistan throughout the series -- the absence through injury of leading quick bowlers Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan -- remains.

Trying to find a solid opening batting partnership has also been a problem.

And with Imran Farhat set to miss the Headingley match because of a broken finger sustained while catching Kevin Pietersen at Old Trafford, Pakistan are on course to field their third different opening combination in as many Tests.

Promoting Kamran Akmal to the top of the order in Manchester (where he scored just four in both innings) was not a success.

Pakistan could now recall Salman Butt, dropped for the second Test, while fellow opener Taufeeq Umar, a late addition to the squad, is another possibility.

Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer is also contemplating changes to his side's bowling attack after they went in with two leg-spinners, Danish Kaneria and Shahid Afridi, at Old Trafford.

However, in the last 10 years at Headingley only one frontline England spinner has taken a Test wicket (left-armer Ashley Giles dismissing India's Rahul Dravid in 2002).

That has left Woolmer thinking of playing four quicks and one spinner.

Paceman Mohammad Sami, especially, struggled to make much of an impression in Manchester and Pakistan, for all their injury problems, have the likes of seamers Rao Iftikhar Anjum, Shahid Nazir and the uncapped Samiullah Niazi all available.

But, as Woolmer weighed up his options, he admitted: "We've just got to play better than we did last time."

For England all eyes will be on wicket-keeper Chris Read following his recall in place of the dropped Geraint Jones.

Jones, who supplanted Read two years ago on account of his better batting, has lost his place after just one fifty in his last 15 Test innings.

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