England have a chance of winning Ashes: Inzamam

Published: Thursday, August 17, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq believes England can give themselves a "big chance" of winning the Ashes in Australia later this year if they maintain their current form.

England head into the final Test of four against Pakistan starting at The Oval on Thursday with the series secured at 2-0.

That represents their first Test series win since last year's thrilling 2-1 Ashes triumph and this recent success has been made all the more creditable by the absence through injury of star players such as Andrew Flintoff.

Although Pakistan have had more than their fair share of injury problems too, the fact remains England have now beaten the Asian giants in a home Test series for the first time since 1982.

"If England play like this there will be good games and it will be difficult to say who will win," said Inzamam.

"But if England perform at the same level they have a big chance. With the batsmen in form and the bowlers bowling well the Ashes will be a very good series," the outstanding batsman added.

Pakistan arrived in England on the back of five unbeaten Test campaigns, their previous defeat delivered emphatically by the Australians in 2004-05.

"Over the past two years this Pakistan team has not won every game but it has not lost any series," said Inzamam. "This England team is playing very well though so all credit to them."

Pakistan have been without leading pace bowlers Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif and Rana Naved all series because of injury.

But they hope to have Asif fit following an elbow problem come Thursday's start of the fourth Test at The Oval.

Asif took a 10-wicket match haul for Pakistan A against England in Pakistan late last year and Inzamam said: "Maybe Asif will play because he is bowling well and he is 100 percent fit," said Inzamam.

"He has played two or three games in Pakistan and he is okay.

"His line and length is good, he's very positive, an attacking bowler who has performed very well over the past couple of years."

Mohammad Sami, whose eight wickets to date have cost almost 60 runs apiece, appears the man in line to be dropped should Pakistan opt for Asif.

"It's been difficult because our fast bowlers have not been fit and without fast bowlers among your bowling battery it's difficult to win," Inzamam said. "But I am happy with the young bowlers, they have performed well and if we raised the fielding standards maybe it would change the results.

"We missed a lot of catches, that's the main thing. England are a strong team and if you give chances to a strong team it is difficult to come back."

But with Pakistan set to field their fourth opening batting combination in Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat in as many Tests, Inzamam admitted the chopping and changing had not helped his side.

"When people are coming and another one is going it is difficult on tour because you lose momentum."

The first Ashes Test starts in Brisbane on November 23.

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