Rana unlikely to play England

Seamer Rana Naved Ul-Hasan is unlikely to feature in Pakistan’s series against England, due to a groin injury.

He started the county season in fine form alongside Mushtaq Ahmed for county side Sussex, but he also picked up an injury before joining the squad in Pakistan. The injury was not thought to be serious at first, but it became obvious to coach Bob Woolmer that it was worse than expected: “We are worried about it yes. We’re still not sure what it is but as soon as I heard about him picking up the niggle I thought it might be serious. He has little problems in that area before and he might have had it during the series against England and India last year but it is difficult to pick up.”

The condition is suspected to be “Gilmore’s groin” which has affected a number of Pakistan players in the past, as well as England spinner Ashley Giles. Should this be the case, he will probably need at least six weeks out of the game, either for surgery or an extended rest. The PCB are doing their best to find out more about Naved’s problem, they are contacting Naved’s county Sussex and a surgeon in Manchester who has treated Mohammad Hafeez for a similar problem.

Assuming Rana is out; it will weaken the Pakistani bowling attack, already missing Shoaib Akhtar, further. Mohammad Asif will have to spearhead the attack, and will probably be partnered by two of Mohammad Sami, Umar Gul or Shahid Nazir. Sami and Nazir have just been recalled, Sami after being dropped for extended erratic form, and Gul has only recently recovered from a back injury which left him sidelined for over a year.

Rana could well have been Pakistan’s best bowler against England. He impressed against them on home soil last year, taking five wickets at Faisalabad, while his bowling style is almost perfect for English conditions, as his county stints at Sussex have shown.

To replace Rana, Pakistan could choose Rao Iftikhar Anjum or Samiullah Niazi although an interesting option is veteran leg spinner Mushtaq Ahmed. Prolific for Sussex, the 35 year-old last played for his country in 2003, but when speaking to Reuters Inzamam Ul-Haq said: “The injuries to our main bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Rana Naved are a bit unsettling and we are thinking along the lines of balancing the attack by turning to Mushtaq for the Tests, his form for them (Sussex) has been outstanding and he clearly relishes bowling in English conditions. His experience could be invaluable for us.”

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