Injured Akhtar hoping for Warwickshire boost

Published: Friday, July 14, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar is to train with English county Warwickshire in a bid to improve his prospects of appearing in next month's final Test at The Oval.

Shoaib is currently out of action with an ankle injury and was unavailable for the opening match of a four-Test series with England, which started at Lord's here Thursday.

But Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shaharyar Khan said they hoped to have the 'Rawalpindi Express' available for the fourth and final Test of the series, which gets underway in London on August 17.

"We hope to get Shoaib Akhtar fit before The Oval Test and if he plays there he would boost the Pakistan attack," Khan told at Lord's here Thursday.

"Bob Woolmer (Pakistan coach) has negotiated with the Warwickshire management and they have agreed to help with Shoaib's rehabilitation and match fitness."

Keith Cook, Birmingham-based Warwickshire's cricket operations manager, told "Shoaib is going to come to Edgbaston and use our on-site gym as he tries to get fit."

Former England batsman Woolmer, previously in charge of South Africa, made his name as a coach with Warwickshire during the Midlands county's successful spell in the 1990s.

Akhtar, who has taken 165 Test and 199 One-day International wickets, was one of the architects of Pakistan's 2-0 home Test series win over England last year, the 30-year-old taking 17 wickets.

He last played for Pakistan in the Karachi Test against India in January and has been out of action for the best part of five months after undergoing knee surgery in Australia in February.

Akhtar was named in a provisional Pakistan touring party for England but was left out of the 16-man squad after it was discovered that an earlier ankle fracture had not healed.

Pakistan's pace bowling resources have been severely depleted since they arrived in England.

Mohammad Asif was ruled out Wednesday of the first Test with an elbow injury after fellow quick Rana Naved-ul-Hasan had to withdraw from the tour because of a groin problem.

Uncapped left-arm quick Samiullah Niazi has been called into the squad as cover after an impressive domestic season in Pakistan.

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