Pace attack's injury crisis forces rethink of options June 17, 2006

Rana to receive treatment in London

Cricinfo staff

Which one of the two will be in this summer's Pakistan squad? Answers on a postcard please © Getty Images

Rana Naved-ul Hasan left for London on Saturday to consult a specialist in the hope of recovering from a groin injury before the Test series against England in July.

Naved, who has played eight Tests and 45 one-day internationals, suffered the injury while playing for Sussex recently but he says he still has hopes of taking part in the series. He told AFP before his departure, "I have hopes of getting fit in time to face England. If not, it would be a great disappointment because I have been waiting for this series.

"When I suffered the injury during a county match I felt pain even in walking but the injury has responded to treatment and now I can run with little discomfort."

Pakistan's selection committee reacted by announcing that they are considering sending a 15-man squad initially to England - and not 16 as was originally intended - in light of the injury crisis afflicting their pace attack. Any decision though will only be taken after a final report on Rana's injury.

Wasim Bari, chairman of selectors, said Pakistan might delay naming their 16th man till just before the start of the first Test at Lord's, from July 13. Bari told The News that he might ask the team management to first assess conditions in England before asking for any replacements. "If it is confirmed that Rana cannot play 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 requirements."

A number of names have been thrown up as possible replacements for Rana and fellow casualty Shoaib Akhtar should they miss part of or the entire tour. Inzamam-ul-Haq, Pakistan's captain, has acknowledged that a recall for Mushtaq Ahmed is looking increasingly likely, while also hinting that Samiullah Niazi Khan and Wasim Khan, two untried fast bowlers from the domestic circuit, might be tried. Rao Iftikhar Anjum, the lanky medium-pacer, who has played regularly at ODI level for the last two years, is also under consideration.

Any decision is not likely to be rushed, mostly because there is still no definitive consensus on how long either Shoaib or Rana will be out for. Amid this backdrop, Pakistan are keen to give as much time as possible to both before taking any final decisions. "The first Test is still almost a month away so there is plenty of time," said Bari.

Inzamam, meanwhile, has lashed out at various targets following the injury to Rana. In an interview with a local paper and TV channel he first attacked Sussex for overusing Rana. "I think he was excessively used in (county) matches and not provided proper rest. Teams have to use fast bowlers very intelligently to avoid any burnouts or injuries."

By the time Reuters had spoken to him, he set his sights onto ODI cricket, arguing "I think the number of one-day internationals being played these days is a key reason for players, especially the bowlers struggling with their fitness."

Inzamam also cited the example of England as another side that has suffered unduly. "Playing the Tests is not an issue with players because you get time to rest between games and recover from niggling fitness problems. It is the one-dayers that put a strain on us. You have to travel a lot between one-day matches and players get little time to recoup and start afresh. Eventually it gets a bit cumbersome."