Akhtar set to miss out

Shoaib Akhtar, who has missed Pakistan’s entire Test series against England with an ankle injury, is set to sit out the final match of the series. Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer intends for Shoaib to return in the forthcoming one-day series between the two sides, with an aim to building his long-term fitness ahead of next year’s World Cup.

However, Shoaib’s fellow fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Rana Naved-Ul-Hasan may well be included – both are fit again after injury. Asif is the more likely of the two to play, but with Mohammad Sami, Abdul Razzaq and Shahid Nazir all failing to impress so far on tour, Naved could be thrown in with him. The impressive Umar Gul will keep his place.

There are also changes expected at the top of the order for the touring side – Mohammad Hafeez comes in to open the batting with Imran Farhat, who missed the third Test with a broken finger. This gives Pakistan their fourth different opening partnership in as many Tests, as they struggle to find a combination capable of delivering consistent results.

So far in this series, Salman Butt, Taufeeq Umar and Kamran Akmal have also been handed the job, while the now-injured Shoaib Malik was the incumbent during England’s winter visit to Pakistan. England, on the other hand, are set to name an unchanged line-up – Chris Read keeping his place behind the stumps after an impressive performance at Headingley, and Ian Bell looking for his fourth hundred in as many Tests from his new position at number six.

The fourth and final Test of the series starts at the Brit Oval on Thursday.

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