Cricket: Aamir injury adds to Pakistan's woes

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The Independent Online
THE PROFOUND - and disappointing - effect injuries have had on the series between the West Indies and Pakistan has persisted to the very end. As the teams prepared here yesterday for the third and final Test match starting today, the West Indies, with two hefty victories behind them and the series secured, welcomed back Ian Bishop with understandable relief. Pakistan, on the other hand, resigned themselves to losing yet another key player, Aamir Sohail.

Even the usually upbeat Pakistan manager, Khalid Mahmood, was obliged to admit the situation had now depressed his players to such an extent that it would be virtually impossible to motivate themselves. Even before the series started they lost fast bowler Aqib Javed and first-choice wicketkeeper Rashid Latif with back injuries and leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed joined them with a similar complaint after the first Test.

Now Aamir, the left-handed opening batsman, spin bowler and specialist close fielder, has returned home. He tore a groin muscle in the nets prior to the second Test in Barbados but his value was such that he was pressed into service with the aid of pain-killing injections. The injury was aggravated and his movements have been severely restricted ever since. The Pakistanis will have to again turn to their reserves, either Zahid Fazal, the tall 19-year-old right- hander who has had six previous Tests, or Shakeel Ahmed, 21, also right-handed and on his first tour.

The return of Bishop, who left the field in Bridgetown last Sunday complaining of back pains, means the West Indies have been able to retain the same squad of 13 throughout. Kenneth Benjamin, the powerful Antiguan, has been placed on standby in case Bishop fails a final fitness test. But even if he does his place is more likely to go to Andy Cummins, who was in the original selection.

Bishop's swift recovery has been welcomed, not only by the West Indies but also by Derbyshire, who he rejoins next week. His recent history is such that his exit during the Barbados Test immediately raised concerns that he had reactivated the stress fracture on his lower vertebrae that had kept him out of international cricket for a year and a half prior to his return in Australia last October. A bone scan has erased any fears.

WEST INDIES (from): R B Richardson (capt), D L Haynes, P V Simmons, B C Lara, K L T Arthurton, C L Hooper, J R Murray (wkt), I R Bishop, C E L Ambrose, W K M Benjamin, C A Walsh, A C Cummins, J C Adams, K C G Benjamin.

PAKISTAN (from): Wasim Akram (capt), Ramiz Raja, Shakeel Ahmed, Zahid Fazal, Asif Mujtaba, Basit Ali, Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Rashid Latif (wkt), Moin Khan (wkt), Waqar Younis, Ata-ur-Rehman, Aamir Nazir, Nadim Khan.

Umpires: H D Bird and S U Bucknor.

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