Pakistan might delay naming 16th man for England tour

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Pakistan may send a 15-member squad to England later this month and delay naming their 16th man till before the start of the first Test at Lord’s if injured pacer Rana Naved-ul-Hasan is ruled out of the tour, chief selector Wasim Bari said on Friday.

Bari told ‘The News’ that the selection committee could ask the team management to first go to England and then ask for Rana’s replacement before the opening Test getting underway from July 13.

“If it is confirmed that Rana cannot play (in the series against England) then we may tell the team management to take a 15-man squad to England and see for themselves the conditions there and then ask for a replacement according to the requirement,” he said.

Bari believes time is on Pakistan’s side which is why the selection committee will weigh all pros and cons before taking a final decision on this issue.

Pakistan have received a double injury blow to their pace battery ahead of the long tour of England following injuries to their key strike bowlers — Shoaib Akhtar and Rana Naved-ul-Hassan. Shoaib was ruled out of the initial part of the tour of England early this month after being recommended a six-week rest due to an ankle injury. Recently, a report on Rana’s groin injury has also put a question mark on the medium pacer’s chances of playing the series against England. He has been asked to rest for four to six weeks and the period could stretch further if a surgery is required.

There have been indications that medium pacer Rao Iftikhar Anjum, featuring as a reserve in the training camp in Lahore, might be asked to fill in for Rana or the slot may go to Test discard Mushtaq Ahmed, the aging leg-spinner currently spending the twilight years of his cricket career by featuring in county action in England.

But Bari said the selection committee would only come into action when a final report on Rana’s injury is available to them. “From what I know he (Rana) has to see a specialist in England next week after which we would be able to know for sure how serious his injury is and whether he would be able to play any role on the tour of England,” he said.

Bari made it clear the selection committee would not take any hasty decisions. “The first Test (in England) is still almost a month away so there is plenty of time,” he said.

He promised the best possible decision would be made. “Rana’s injury comes as an unpleasant surprise and together with Shoaib’s absence has made things a bit tough for us. But I am sure that our bowling line-up would finally come out well.”

Pakistan are scheduled to leave for England on June 25 to play four Tests, five one-day matches and some side games during the tour that concludes on September 10.
Source:The News

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