Pakistan ponder Ajmal recall for Australia finale

Updated: 20 July 2010 15:49 IST

Pakistan know they will be without former captain Shahid Afridi for the second and final Test against Australia at Headingley starting on Wednesday.

Pakistan ponder Ajmal recall for Australia finale

Leeds:

Pakistan know they will be without former captain Shahid Afridi for the second and final Test against Australia at Headingley starting here on Wednesday.

But they could also be without leg-spinner Danish Kaneria too if they decide to recall off-break bowler Saeed Ajmal in a bid to counter the left-handers in Australia's top order.

However, as at Lord's last week, where Australia won the series opener by 150 runs, the question will be whether Pakistan's batsmen can put a big enough score on the board.

Opener Salman Butt has been promoted to the captaincy after Afridi's first game back playing Test cricket in four years saw him unsuccessfully try to slog his way out of trouble and then announce his retirement from the five-day game.

Afridi was then ruled out of the Headingley match and Pakistan's subsequent four Tests against England with a side strain.

Butt, formerly the vice-captain, led by example at Lord's with scores of 63 and 92 as he became the only Pakistan batsman to make a fifty in the match.

The 25-year-old left-hander now has the additional burden of captaincy.

But in Afridi's absence, a batting line-up that featured two debutants at Lord's in Azhar Ali and Umar Amin should be bolstered by the recall of former captain Shoaib Malik.

At Lord's, Pakistan lost 11 wickets in total to Shane Watson, who took five in their mediocre first innings, and occasional off-spinner Marcus North, who produced astonishing figures of six for 55.

Victory gave Australia a record 13th straight Test win in a row over Pakistan and even though Headingley has a reputation for aiding swing bowlers, which will suit the likes of Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif, runs will be at a premium.

Pakistan assistant coach Ijaz Ahmed, who made a century and a fifty during a drawn Test against England at Headingley in 1996, explained to reporters here on Monday: "I told them the (Pakistan players) the best thing to do is leave the ball outside off stump and the short ball.

"These are the only two areas we are working on. Hopefully this will bring something positive.

"The key bowler is Mohammad Asif who can seam it around. He really bowled well in the first Test.

"Also, Umar Gul, he got an injury before the tour so he couldn't bowl properly for a couple of months. Now I am looking forward to seeing him pitch the ball up and he can be effective also."

Despite the instabiluty caused by Afridi's exit, Ijaz insisted: "The boys are really keen to hit back.

"We had a meeting and told the boys it is a do-or-die game for us. We have to level the series."

As for Butt's promotion, Ijaz said: "He is in good nick as well. I am pretty sure he is going to do well."

For Australia the only worries are whether seamer Ben Hilfenhaus (shoulder) and North (illness), who both missed training on Monday, will be fit.

The uncapped duo of seamer Peter George and Usman Khawaja are waiting in the wings if needed.

And the way in which debutants Tim Paine and Steven impressed at Lord's suggests George and Khawaja will not be found wanting if given the chance.

"Things are coming together nicely," said Australia captain Ricky Ponting.

"Test matches are not easy to win. I feel that we're through that and once we get all our guys back to full fitness we're going to put a really formidable side on the park, which is a really good sign for us."

One area where Pakistan should have an edge is in crowd support from the local Asian community, who are being encouraged to watch the climax of a series being played in England because of security concerns in Pakistan.

"Many Pakistanis live here in Bradford and Leeds," said Ijaz, who played league cricket in Yorkshire. "Hopefully they will come and watch Pakistan."

Topics : Cricket Sreesanth
Related Articles
India vs England: Centurion Jayant Yadav Wants to Continue Batting at No. 9
India vs England: Centurion Jayant Yadav Wants to Continue Batting at No. 9
Mohammad Asif Says No Other Bowler Can Exploit New Ball as Well as Him
Mohammad Asif Says No Other Bowler Can Exploit New Ball as Well as Him
India vs England: Mohammed Shami, Wriddhiman Saha Ruled Out of Chennai Test
India vs England: Mohammed Shami, Wriddhiman Saha Ruled Out of Chennai Test
Show Comments
Advertisement