Inzamam-ul Haq has promised that his Pakistan side will be a match for England's Ashes-winning side in the forthcoming series - and he says Mushtaq Ahmed could be in line for a recall to lend experience. "To beat a team like Australia you need to be at your best, and England did their best", Inzamam, Pakistan's captain, told AFP on Tuesday. "But my team will definitely match England player for player and blow for blow."
England, who recently regained the Ashes after last winning them 18 years ago, have included the 12 Ashes players in the squads announced for their three Test matches and three one-day games against Pakistan. They arrive on October 26, with the first Test at Multan from November 12.
Inzamam said he was confident his players would be at their best. "England have been doing well and put their best into the Ashes so we, too, need to be at our best, which I am confident my boys will be."
He hinted that Mushtaq could be called in for his experience as a spinner. "If we decide to play with two leg-spinners, we need to play the two most experienced spinners. I can't take a chance with an inexperienced spinner against England." The 35-year-old Mushtaq has not played Test cricket since 2003, but he has performed well for Sussex in the English county championship, taking 75 wickets in the current season.
Inzamam's main worry has been injuries and his pace bowlers' lack of match practice, and he admitted that his fast bowlers would need to be "super fit" for the clash. But the attack's spearhead, Shoaib Akhtar, has not played for Pakistan since a hamstring injury in Australia in January, while Mohammad Sami missed Pakistan's last series in the West Indies in May and June this year.
However, both are fit again, as is Umer Gul, who has not played since March last year. But Shabbir Ahmed's chances of playing hang in the balance, after he was banned for a suspect bowling action.
Inzamam said he was not concerned about the English bowlers' mastery of reverse swing, which has been credited, in part, to their Ashes triumph. "If their bowlers can reverse-swing the ball," he said, "ours can also." He added that "Akhtar and Sami have more pace" than England's bowlers.