Pakistan v England 2015-16 October 16, 2015

Yasir 'fit again' but Pakistan ponder cover

Bilal Asif claimed a five-wicket haul against Zimbabwe but had his action reported © Associated Press

Yasir Shah is expected to be fit for the second Test against England in Dubai after recovering from the back spasm which ruled him out of the opening contest. However, team manager Intikhab Alam hinted there could be a surprise addition to the squad after Pakistan's attempts to call up Zafar Gohar for this match were thwarted by visa issues.

Responding to criticism from Pakistan's captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, over the lack of spin cover in the initial 16-man squad, Alam told ESPNcricinfo. "We don't want to reveal anything at the moment but we have some plans."

That could throw an intriguing couple of names into the frame. A long shot would be Saeed Ajmal, who tormented England here in 2012, but has had to remodel his action and was not effective for Worcestershire in the County Championship this year, while another option may be offspinner Bilal Asif even though his action is under scrutiny after the one-day series in Zimbabwe.

Bilal was reported after taking 5 for 25 in Harare, but the reporting and assessment process laid down by the ICC allows him to continuing bowling until the results of the tests are known. The testing has to take place within 14 days of the report and he is due to travel via Dubai to Chennai, one of the ICC's approved testing centres, on October 18 and be tested the following day. He would be available for selection until the results come through, a process that takes a further 14 days and means, in theory, he would at least be available for the Dubai Test starting on October 22.

Ajmal, meanwhile, who on Friday was traveling from Faisalabad to Lahore, told ESPNcricinfo he was not expecting to be called-up. "Of course everyone might be thinking about me right now but I can confirm that they haven't asked about my passport," Ajmal said. "But I am sure in the present scenario they are definitely thinking about me."

At the toss Misbah expressed his frustration at the lack of an extra spinner in the squad, thoughts echoed by the head coach Waqar Younis when he spoke to TV on Friday. Pakistan's plan was to play two fast bowlers and at least two specialist spinners but they were forced to bring in Imran Khan as part of a three-man seam attack after Yasir and Gohar didn't make it.

Over the last two days Yasir has been seen jogging around the ground during intervals and having a bowl in the nets. "He is fit and will be match fit by the second Test," Alam said. "We no more require Zafar as he was only named replacement for the first Test but he didn't make it, so we have plenty of time ahead of the next game to decide."

With Yasir set to be available it would appear unlikely that Pakistan would alter their first-choice spin pairing even though Zulfiqar Babar, by lunch on the fourth day, had bowled 48 wicketless overs. The first Test was still awaiting its first wicket for a spinner.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

Comments