Pace trio can unsettle Pakistan

England need at least three of the four pacemen who helped win the Ashes to play if they are to beat Pakistan, according to Rashid Latif.

The former Pakistan captain told BBC Sport: “If Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard and Andrew Flintoff are fully fit, England can win the Test series.”

He said the continued absence of Simon Jones was a shame for all cricket fans. “I hope he will be fit in the future. All the world wants to see Simon Jones bowling,” said Latif.

Wicket-keeper Latif is a veteran of three tours to England, having made his debut in the Oval Test in 1992, helping Pakistan win the deciding match in the series.

He also played the first Test of three in 1996 before succumbing to injury — again, Pakistan won that series — and played both matches in the drawn series in 2001, when he hit 71 and took seven catches in a win at Old Trafford.

On each of those tours, Pakistan were generally presented with flat wickets, which helped them enormously.

“A seaming wicket will be very difficult for the batsmen, so Pakistan will be much happier with flat wickets, or ones that offer a little bit of spin,” said Latif.

“At this time of year, in July and August, the English weather changes and the pitches are going to dry out.

“Later, on the fourth and fifth day, there should be a little bit of turn and we have very good leg-spinners like Danish Kaneria and Mushtaq Ahmed.”

Officially, Mushtaq is not in the squad, but could replace fast bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, who is still awaiting a verdict on the extent of his groin injury.

The younger man, Kaneria, is the more likely starter if just one spinner plays. “If he is called up, Mushtaq will be very dangerous, but if I had to pick just one of them to start a Test I would go with Danish,” said Latif, who now spends his summers in England as a member of the Lashings World XI squad.

“He’s a young, dynamic bowler. Mushy is a great bowler who has been around for a long time whereas Danish is only 25.

“Mushy, in Test cricket or county cricket, has done everything. He is not willing like Danish, who wants to become a world-class spinner.”

Latif believes the England-Pakistan series could still be a real treat for fans despite injuries affecting both sides.

England’s problems on that front are well documented; Pakistan will lack pace spearhead Shoaib Akhtar as well as Naved.

The absence of Simon Jones is being keenly felt by England

Latif said: “England struggled at times against Sri Lanka and Pakistan are a better team than Sri Lanka. On that basis, Pakistan have a good chance of winning the series.

“But Pakistan can struggle against fast bowling — it happened a little bit when England played over there late last year, in Multan and Faisalabad.

“When Harmison bowled short of a length, the Pakistani batsmen had some problems. But England do have to cope with the big loss of Simon Jones, who in my opinion is one of the best fast bowlers in the world.

“The big difference between Australia and England in the Ashes last year was Jones and Hoggard — the combination of straight swing and reverse swing.”

Source:The News

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Written by Team CricketViewer on June 28th, 2006 with no comments.
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