Pakistan hit by injuries

Gul and Haider out for Test against England while India beat Sri Lanka in tri-series.

    Akmal will be drafted in to replace Haider for the third Test [GALLO/GETTY]

    Umar Gul and Zulqarnain Haider have been ruled out of the third Test with injury to compound Pakistan's problems as they battle to rescue the series against a resurgent England side.

    An unusual vote of confidence by the England selectors illustrates the heady run of success currently enjoyed by the national team who could clinch their four-Test series against the tourists this week.

    The selectors on Sunday took the rare step of announcing the final XI for the third Test at the Oval starting on Wednesday – instead of a squad – with opener Alastair Cook, who has scored just 100 runs in seven innings this season, the chief beneficiary.

    England conclude their home season in London with the final match at Lord's next week after which they will turn their full attention to the Ashes defence in Australia later in the year.

    Joined forces

    Since coach Andy Flower and captain Andrew Strauss joined forces early last year, England have regained the Ashes and won the Twenty20 World Cup.

    They have beaten Australia 3-2 in a one-day series this season and victory at the Oval would be their seventh Test win in a row, although that statistic does include four matches against a modest Bangladesh outfit.

    Pakistan, in familiar disarray after squaring their two-Test series against Australia, could make little of the swing, seam and spin delivered by England's four-man attack in the first two matches.

    Sehwag gave India victory in their tri-series match in Sri Lanka on Monday [AFP]

    In response the prolific Mohammad Yousuf has been recalled to the side, after ending his brief international retirement, while pitches at the two London grounds generally favour the batsmen.

    Since Andrew Flintoff retired from Test cricket last year year, England have committed themselves to a four-man attack with six specialist batsmen and wicketkeeper Matt Prior batting at seven.

    England will almost certainly need to take 20 wickets in at least two games in Australia to retain the Ashes and the London matches should provide a more searching examination of the various abilities of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn and Graeme Swann.

    Pakistan, headed by the late movement and accuracy of Mohammad Asif possess a class attack, as they showed in their surprise win over Australia.

    But their batting has been dire and Yousuf is set to replace Umar Amin while Yasir Hameed could also come into the side in place of either Shoaib Malik or opener Imran Farhat.

    Either Tanvir Ahmed or Wahab Riaz will replace injured pace bowler Gul, who has been ruled out of the remainder of the series with a hamstring injury.


    To compound Pakistan's problems, Gul was joined on the sidelines on Monday by wicketkeeper-batsman Haider, who made 88 in the second innings on his Test debut at Edgbaston.

    Haider, who has a broken finger, will be replaced by Kamran Akmal who will return to the side for the second time this year after being dropped.

    Meanwhile on Monday, Virender Sehwag smashed an unbeaten 99 off 100 balls as India came back roaring into the one-day tri-series with a convincing six-wicket win over Sri Lanka in Dambulla.

    Sehwag cracked 11 fours and two sixes as India overhauled Sri Lanka's modest total of 170 in the 35th over to earn themselves a bonus point.

    India suffered an embarrassing 200-run defeat by New Zealand in their opening match last week.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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