Pakistan v India, 3rd Test, Rawalpindi April 11, 2004

Sami ruled fit for decider

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Mohammad Sami: likely to play at Rawalpindi © AFP

The injury-plagued Pakistan pace attack received a boost when Mohammad Sami was declared fit to play in the third Test, which starts at Rawalpindi on April 13. Sami had earlier been ruled doubtful for the match due to a back injury, but Haroon Rashid, the Pakistan team manager, said that the injury was only a minor one.

"He has a slight back niggle but that is normal with fast bowlers. It is not serious, and we are confident he will play on Tuesday." There was speculation that Sami would not play the third Test after he missed the practice session on Sunday, but Rashid confirmed that Sami had opted out due to a bout of food poisoning.

Javed Miandad had earlier expressed doubts about Sami's fitness, saying that he had played the entire series with the niggle. "Sami has been complaining of back pain since the series started. Though he braved it so far, his pain has increased since Friday. He is getting treatment before the match."

Pakistan have already been hampered by injuries to Shabbir Ahmed and Umar Gul, both of whom have been ruled out of the Test. Rao Iftikhar Anjum, Fazl-e-Akbar, Abdur Rauf and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan - all right-arm seamers - have been named as replacements. Naved played one match in the one-day series against India, while Anjum was part of the squad, but didn't play a single game. They had a vote of confidence from Miandad: "Injuries are a big problem. But I have confidence in the ability of out backup bowlers to give India a hard time. We believe we still have the bowling strength to bowl them out."

Wasim Bari, the chairman of selectors, admitted that he was worried about the injuries to key players, but insisted that the replacements had the capability to fill the breach. "I am confident that the boys will put this [the injuries] behind them and display the same standard of cricket that earned them victory by nine wickets in the second Test."

The squad of 17 will be whittled down to 15 on Monday evening.

Squad Inzamam-ul-Haq (capt), Taufeeq Umar, Imran Nazir, Imran Farhat, Yasir Hameed, Yousuf Youhana, Asim Kamal, Misbah-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal (wk), Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami, Danish Kaneria, Shoaib Malik, Rao Iftikhar Anjum, Fazl-e-Akbar, Abdur Rauf, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan.