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Pakistan struggling to field 11 men
Harish Kotian in Kolkata | November 29, 2007 16:49 IST
Things are just getting worse for Pakistan as they approach the crucial second Test against India in Kolkata, beginning Friday.
If losing the opening Test in Delhi was not enough, the visitors are now struggling to field 11 players because of injury and health problems.
The pace duo of Shoaib Akhtar [Images] and Mohammad Sami [Images] missed practice after being down with chest infection. Captain Shoaib Malik [Images] limped his way around in the nets after spraining his ankle in Delhi, while pacer Umar Gul is heading back to Pakistan after failing to recover from his injury.
"I have pain in my ankle. I will undergo another fitness test tomorrow and only then will I finalise on whether I should play or not," Malik said in Kolkata on Thursday.
Already down 0-1 in the series after losing the Kotla Test, Pakistan are struggling to put together 11 fit players. In such a scenario, it could even mean they could field half-fit players if reinforcements from Pakistan don't arrive by this evening.
"It is a tough time but we are all professional. Injuries are bound to happen; it is part and parcel of sport. We are all playing for our country and will try and give our best. We need four specialist bowlers for a Test match. I hope we might be able to manage it," Malik said.
The key for Pakistan could be the availability of pace spearhead Akhtar, who impressed in the last match, taking six wickets. His absence will leave a huge void in Pakistan's bowling attack, already missing the services of Mohammad Asif [Images].
"Akhtar has recovered but we will know whether he will be able to play only by tomorrow morning," Malik said.
Gul, who missed the first Test, bowled a few overs in the nets though he hasn't recovered fully.
"Though Gul bowled at the nets, he is under pain. He needs treatment and we are sending him back to Pakistan for further treatment," Pakistan's captain said.
"It is unfortunate. Injuries and chest infection have hit our team and everyone is under treatment. We don't have any option. We have to win this Test but we are struggling," he added.
Malik downplayed criticism directed at him, saying he is not a soft captain, but rather one who believes in encouraging his players.
"Many people think that being a calm person I am a soft captain. We are going through a tough time and what we need is encouragement not criticism," he said.