England set for Pak tour

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/A/Apvaughan.jpg' class='caption'> A 16-man England squad, led by captain Michael Vaughan and coach Duncan Fletcher, will embark on an eight-week tour of Pakistan on Tuesday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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A 16-man England squad, led by captain Michael Vaughan and coach Duncan Fletcher, will embark on an eight-week tour of Pakistan on Tuesday. The tour comes just six weeks after England's upset Ashes series victory over the world's top-ranked side Australia. The series win confirmed England's place in the official rankings as the number two Test team in the world and they have clearly closed the gap on their Australian rivals. But, Vaughan and his squad know that they will have to win all around the world and in different conditions, as Australia have already done, before they can lay claim to the throne of the best team in the world. Vaughan took over from Nasser Hussain as captain in 2003, since when England have won 19 and lost just five of their 31 Tests. Massive challenge Another massive challenge comes in Pakistan, where Hussain led the side to a 1-0 Test series victory five years ago. England will once again look to their big names to do the job for them, as they did against Australia. Fast bowler Steve Harmison will be expected to lead the pace attack, but he should receive good back-up from swing bowler Matthew Hoggard and star all-rounder Andrew Flintoff. Simon Jones will miss the tour through injury and Flintoff may have to shoulder extra responsibility with the ball, to go with his valuable contributions with the bat. On the batting front, Vaughan and openers Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss will expected to deliver the runs and the England selectors will also hope that Kevin Pietersen continues his explosive start to Test cricket. Regardless of their personnel, however, England, more importantly, will have to adapt to the conditions - in particular, the slow, low-bouncing wickets. Fletcher believes that the nature of the wickets England will find will play a large part in their tactics. Good form Vaughan and Fletcher will look to Ashley Giles to repeat the good form he showed on England's last visit to Pakistan five years ago. On that occasion Giles took 17 wickets in three tests, his first full series in the England side, and the tourists won a thrilling final Test in the dark in Karachi. The left-arm spinner will be crucial to England's success and Giles knows what victory in Pakistan will mean to him and his teammates. With the Pakistani wickets being conducive to spin, England could go into the Tests with two spinners, meaning that 36-year-old Shaun Udal could make his Test debut. The Hampshire off-spinner will be on tour as understudy to Giles. The England squad will be without Flintoff and Harmison when they depart on Tuesday. The pair will be allowed another week's rest following their participation in the Super Series in Australia. They will not join the party until after the first tour match, which begins in Rawalpindi on the October 31. The first Test between England and Pakistan starts in Multan on November 12. (AP)

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