Akhtar ruled out, Bhajji not fit

Rawalpindi, February 10:

Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar will miss the second one-day international against India after failing to recover from an ankle injury, captain Inzamam-ul Haq said on Friday.

“Akhtar is not fit. He has been carrying this injury for a long time now so we want to give him as much rest as possible,” said Inzamam ahead of the game here on Saturday.

Akhtar, 30, aggravated the injury to his left ankle before the first one-dayer at Peshawar on Monday and was only able to bowl four deliveries in Pakistan’s net session before being ruled out of the match on Friday.

“The bowlers will have to bowl better because we can’t chase 300-plus all the time,” said Inzamam.

He said his team were keen to take a 2-0 lead. “It is another important match for us and if we win this India will come under pressure. Our players are in good form but we know that to win a match we need to perform well on the particular day,” said Inzamam.

Pakistan is likely to bring allrounder Yasir Arafat in for pacer Umar Gul, who conceded 35 runs in his three overs at Peshawar.

Indian coach Greg Chappell however denied that Akhtar’s absence would benefit the tourists. “Pakistan has a good bowling attack even without Akhtar and they are among the top two or three teams in the world,” said Chappell, who added that off-spinner Harbhajan Singh had not recovered from injury.

“We would like to have a slightly different combination with Harbhajan still not fit to play. We are keen to win the game and the spirit is excellent. I am happy the way we played in the first match and want to improve on that.”

“Pakistan provides an ideal challenge and by playing a good team we would know where we stand,” said Chappell. A sell-out crowd of 19,000 is expected to watch the match.