ICL: Indian Cricket League


Inzamam looks towards his batsmen to deliver the goods

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With his once-menacing pace battery reduced to a second-rated attack ahead of the opening Test here at Lord’s because of injuries, Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq declared on Wednesday he was looking towards his batsmen to shepherd the tourists to glory in England this summer.

Pakistan have not lost a Test series in England since 1982 and Inzamam, on his last tour here, believes the team would once again pull through provided the batters did their job.

“Our bowling has been weakened by injury problems so it is very important that our batsmen perform and put enough runs on the scoreboard each time they go in,” said Inzamam.

Pakistan, who toyed with England in a 2-0 triumph at home last December, go into the Lord’s Test as marginal favourites but Inzamam is aware that the absence of his top choice pace trio — Shoaib Akhtar, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Mohammad Asif — would pose problems on a wicket that seems close to a batsmen’s paradise.

“It is going to be a tough match,” Inzamam admitted. “But I am sure that our bowlers would work hard and the batsmen would score well in this match,” he said.

After a couple of days of wet conditions, the sun is now shining on the visitors who believe that warm and dry conditions would suit them fine.

“This Lord’s wicket is traditionally a batting wicket and it would be even better in these conditions,” is how Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer assessed the track.

The mood in the Pakistani camp was upbeat even though they have plenty of problems other than their top pacers being unavailable.

Middle-order batsman Younis Khan, the team’s vice-captain and Shoaib Malik were far from being fully fit. Both have been among the more successful of the Pakistani batsmen in recent times and are regarded as vital to what is a largely talented yet inconsistent batting lineup.

Pakistan have been unimpressive in their warm-up games and some of the batsmen including Inzamam — the team’s top batter — failed to hit top form in the lead up to the opening Test. But Inzamam is not concerned.

“The real tour starts tomorrow and we are all pumped for it,” he said.

Inzamam is expecting a tough fight from the hosts I spite of the fact that Andrew Strauss’s men would take the field after a 0-5 humiliating in the ODI series against Sri Lanka earlier this season.

“England are a capable team and I expect them to play tough cricket as the conditions here suit them,” said Inzamam.

Strauss, England’s third choice skipper in the absence of Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff, is at the helm of perhaps the least fit squad in Test cricket.Most of England’s top players are unavailable for selection because of injuries but Strauss is hoping at least one of them — Matthew Hoggard — would get fit. Hoggard, who has made 32 consecutive appearances for England, was almost forced out of the first Test after a team-mate stepped on his hand during a four-day game against Pakistan in Canterbury last week. However, there were hopes in the England camp when Hoggard bowled in the nets on Wednesday. “We are giving him (Hoggard) as much time as we can to prove his fitness,” said Strauss.

The England skipper is wary of Pakistan’s unpredictability but says his team would go all out for a series win.

Teams (from): Pakistan — Salman Butt, Imran Farhat, Shoaib Malik, Faisal Iqbal, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Inzamam-ul-Haq (captain), Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Sami, Umar Gul, Danish Kaneria, Samiullah Niazi.

England — Andrew Strauss (captain), Marcus Trescothick, Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell, Geraint Jones, Liam Plunkett, Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison, Sajid Mahmood, Monty Panesar.

Source:The News

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