Shoaib confines himself to the dressing room

Published: Thursday, April 15, 2004, 20:21 [IST]
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Rawalpindi:Pakistan, struggling to contain the Indian batsmen in the series-deciding third cricket Test in Rawalpindi, were hit hard by the absence of pace spearhead Shoaib Akhtar who is suffering from a thumb injury as well as a twitch in the back.

Shoaib's misery has been caused by a fall he had on Wednesday on his follow-through in the post-tea session after he had removed the cream of the Indian batting by dismissing Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman. He had dismissed Virender Sehwag off his first ball on the opening day of the match.

The pace spearhead had X-rays done on his injured left thumb and fortunately for Pakistan there was no fracture. Shoaib, who missed the action for the greater part of the post-tea session on Wednesday, confined himself to the dressing room in the first session on day three.

Batsman Asim Kamal, who was hit on the arm by Sourav Ganguly's pull shot on Wednesday and taken to hospital for an x-ray, also escaped a serious injury and is suffering from a sore elbow.

However the desperate team received a morale-boosting news when in-form batsman Asim Kamal and pace spearhead Shoaib Akhtar were cleared to play their part in their team's second innings.

"Shoaib injured his left thumb and also hurt his back when he fell yesterday on his follow-through. He has a muscle strain in the back while Kamal has a bruised elbow. But both of them are expected to bat in the second innings," media manager Sami-ul-Hasan said.

Although the hosts were deprived of Shoaib's services when those were needed the most on Thursday, they sought consolation in the fact that at least he would come out to bat if needed on Friday.

"Shoaib was not allowed to bowl today as a precautionary measure. His injury is not serious but we did not want to take any chances," Hasan said.

India's first innings score of 600 has made it imperative for the hosts, who have already lost both their openers, that they bat with responsibility and stave off what could result in their first ever series loss to India on their home soil.

The injured duo were sent last evening for X-rays that revealed no fractures.

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