~~No chance of Shoaib~~s return for third Test~~

Published: Tuesday, July 25, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:Shoaib Akhtar's much awaited return to action has been delayed further with Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer confirming that the mercurial speedster will not be fit in time for the third Test against England in Headingly.

''I do not think there are any chances of Shoaib's return to the side for the third Test mainly because there is so little time in between the second and third Test,'' Woolmer told ''The News''.

Shoiab has himself made it clear in a website column that he would not rush his return even if it meant missing the entire Test series. The pacer revealed that his latest injury breakdown was a reult of returning to practice too early after recovering from the first stress fracture in the ankle.

Woolmer echoed Shoaib's views and said a third Test return would be too early for the speedster, who has remained out of action for more than six months.

''We are to play back to back Tests. So there is no time in between. He has started bowling at the nets just a few days back. It would be too early to consider or think in terms of his inclusion in the third Test starting in Headingly in less then 10 days time,'' he said.

''It has almost been six months since he last played international cricket. He had a stress fracture of ankle and required time to recover. It is a long process, he needs time to get fit and if he is he needs time to gain match fitness,'' the Pakistan coach added.

However, Woolmer said there were strong possibilities of Shoaib's return in the fouth Test at the Oval but refused to make any commitment on the matter.

''If he continues to improve he could play the fourth Test.

However, that all depends on how much his condition improves in the next couple of weeks,'' Woolmer said.

Pakistan are on a two-month long tour to England and are currently playing a four-match Test series. Inzamam-ul Haq's men managed to draw the first Test against the hosts at Lord's and the next match is scheduled to start on Thursday at Old Trafford.

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