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Shahid Afridi gives Pakistan new injury worry

Published: Wednesday, July 26, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Manchester:Shahid Afridi gave Pakistan a fresh fitness scare after he was injured just few hours ahead of the second Test against England.

While batting here Tuesday in the Old Trafford nets, Afridi - renowned for his hard-hitting and also a handy leg-spinner - tried to pull a ball from a member of the Lancashire groundstaff.

But the ball hit him on the upper part of the bone of his right elbow. He then had ice treatment and strapping applied and didn't bowl in the nets.

"Afridi has a bruised elbow but he should be OK in the next two days. It's a hard ball game and such things often happen," said Bob Woolmer, Pakistan's coach. "He's a tough Pathan and he'll be OK."

All-rounder Afridi played in the drawn series opener at Lord's, the first of a four-Test series.

But missing from that match, and still sidelined by injury, are the fast bowling trio of Rana Naved-ul-Hasan - out of the tour completely with a groin problem - Shoaib Akhtar (ankle) and Mohammad Asif (elbow).

However the tourists hope to have vice-captain Younis Khan in their side when the second Test starts at Old Trafford on Thursday, the top-order batsman fit again after a knee injury although opener Shoaib Malik is still out with an elbow problem.

Pakistan's plight has led to suggestions that leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed, currently playing county cricket in England for Susssex, might be recalled.

But Woolmer indicated he'd be sticking by his squad, already reinforced by the call-up of uncapped seamer Samiullah Khan Niazi, batsman Taufeeq Umar and medium-pacer Rao Iftikhar Anjum, for the time being.

"We have not made any decision as yet but, after looking at the scorecards for the last five years, we think the spinners have not been that successful at Old Trafford," Woolmer said when asked about Ahmed's Test prospects.

England too have their fair share of injury problems. Earlier Tuesday, fast bowler Liam Plunkett was ruled out of both the second Test and the third match of the series at Headingley with a side strain.

Plunkett joined an injury list including Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan, whose knee problem means he has been ruled out of the Test series in Australia later this year and all-rounder Andrew Flintoff (ankle), who England had hoped would mark his comeback to Test cricket by captaining the side at his Lancashire home ground this week but who is now out for the season.

Meanwhile fast bowler Simon Jones (knee) and spinner Ashley Giles (hip) are also both long-term absentees.

Askes about the hosts' injury crisis, former England batsman Woolmer said: "We can't look at individuals, we need to get on with the game. We have our own problems, we are missing several top players."

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