Pakistan ready for England, says Inzamam
Pakistan would leave for England tomorrow morning without their two frontline pacers but skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq and team officials believe that the touring party still has enough firepower to conquer its rivals in what promises to be a potentially-explosive contest.
With express fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar and reliable medium pacer Rana Naved-ul-Hasan unlikely to make the line-up for the opening Test against England at Lords from July 13 due to injury problems, the Pakistani attack looks quite mediocre.
Add to that the fact that the Pakistani batsmen have in the past mostly struggled in English conditions and you can be rest assured that Inzamam and company will have a tough task at hand in England where the home team would be looking to rebound after an unimpressive early summer against Sri Lanka.
But tell this to Inzamam and he would shrug aside all the fears.
“It would be a setback if we are forced to play in the Tests without Shoaib and Rana,” he said a day before the team’s departure for England to play four Tests and five one-day matches. “But such things are a part of the game and we are going to take all of it our stride,” he added.
Shoaib, one of the world’s fastest bowlers, is struggling to regain match fitness because of ankle stress fracture while Rana is down with a groin injury. The duo’s chances of playing in the Test series remain slim.
Inzamam is expecting youngsters like his wily spinner Danish Kaneria and comeback pacer Mohammad Sami to show their mettle in England.
“Matches are won through team efforts,” he said. “If some of your key players are not available due to any reason then the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the younger boys like Danish and Sami. I believe they are all ready for it.”
The Pakistan manager Zaheer Abbas echoed Inzamam’s views. “The ball is in the court of younger players like Sami,” the former Test star told this correspondent on Friday.
Zaheer said Pakistan have a proven wicket-taking bowler in Kaneria but they needed pacers like Sami and Muhammad Asif to click in England. “It is always the bowlers who win matches and that can only be done if you have a few wicket-takers in your side,” he added.
Zaheer said that he is pinning his hopes in Sami saying that the speedster must himself be raring to go against England after spending the last few months on the sidelines due to poor form.
“Sami has to rise up to the occasion and personally I believe that he has the guts and the talent to cope up with the expectations,” he added.
Zaheer pointed out that Sri Lanka’s unexpected spate of wins against England has increased pressure on his own team. “Now that Sri Lanka have beaten England, everybody would expect us to do even better later this season. This is something that would bring our players under added pressure,” he remarked.
Inzamam agreed that he and fellow teammates would be under pressure to perform well on the tour and added that they would go all out to knock down England for the second time in less than a year.
“Pakistan have not lost a series in England since 1987 and I would like to maintain that record this season,” he said. Pakistan blanked England 2-0 in a home Test series last fall. Injuries have hit England harder than Pakistan in recent months and Inzamam believe that his players can exploit it to their advantage.
“England are currently not at their best following some unexpected losses against Sri Lanka and injuries to their key players. We should take advantage of this situation.”
Pakistan would fly out of the city early on Sunday morning for the tour of England that would conclude in September.
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