~~Pakistan must be on top form to beat England~~

Published: Friday, June 23, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:Coach Bob Woolmer said Pakistan need to be at their best to beat England in the forthcoming Test and One-day series against the number two ranked team in the world.

The English-born coach also brushed aside the injury crises, which have plagued the team for the series starting July 13 at Lord's.

"Injuries to some key players are not worrying and we know that, with whatever resources we have, we need to be at our best to beat England in England," Woolmer told AFP, three days before his team depart on the tough tour.

Pakistan, who will play four Tests and five One-day matches in England, are hit by injuries to fiery fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar and medium pacer Rana Naved-ul Hasan, who are in danger of missing out the Test series.

Akhtar recovered from his twin knee operations in February this year but recurrence of an ankle injury forced the selectors to keep him out of the 16-man team announced earlier this month.

Naved damaged his groin while playing for Sussex in the English county season earlier this month and is getting treatment from a specialist in England.

"The specialist will assess his position on June 28. If he needs surgery then he will be out of the tour.

"Akhtar had another scan on Wednesday and there are positive signs of improvement. We will not rush him into international cricket so we will wait and see how his progress goes," said Woolmer, a former England batsman.

Woolmer hoped Pakistan, the world's fourth-ranked team, could cope without the two injured paceman.

"We can take heart from the fact that we have performed well without these two bowlers in the recent past having won in Sri Lanka, so we have enough resources and all that matters is the positive approach," Woolmer said.

The Pakistan Cricket Board has not announced any replacement for Naved and a 15-man squad will fly out to England where they will wait on Naved's report before taking a final decision.

Woolmer said he expects England to bounce back from recent defeats against Sri Lanka.

"I expect a huge backlash from England after their recent defeats against Sri Lanka and they are a capable side," said Woolmer, refusing to single out any player who could make a difference.

"You see when teams play it's a match between 11 players each side so I don't think about individual players. I hope that my team gives their best," said Woolmer, who also coached South Africa.

Woolmer said veteran leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed had come into the reckoning for a place in on the tour. Mushtaq has not played for Pakistan since 2003.

"Mushtaq could be our 16th player and he has pressed selectors hard with his performance in the English season," said Woolmer. Mushtaq took 47 wickets in seven matches playing for Sussex.

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