Vaughan faces tricky choice over fitness for second Test

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The Independent Online

England's delight in hearing that Marcus Trescothick will remain in Pakistan was yesterday tempered by the sight of Michael Vaughan painfully attempting to prove his fitness for tomorrow's second Test. Vaughan took a full part in England's training session at the Iqbal Stadium but was visibly troubled while running between the wickets, and during a testing fielding session.

Vaughan's inability to rid himself fully of the problem he has with his right knee means that the England captain has a huge decision to make over the next 24 hours. Vaughan is desperate to play and England, despite Trescothick's impressive display in Multan, are 1-0 down in the three-Test series and badly need their leader back.

Yet Vaughan did not look like a man capable of grabbing this series by the scruff of the neck as he laboured through yesterday's practice. He appeared in particular discomfort when he set off for a single after playing the sweep shot, a stroke he will be attempting regularly against Danish Kaneria, Pakistan's leg-spinner.

Pushing off from a low position puts particular strain through the right knee of a right-hand batsman and the fear is that if Vaughan cannot run quick singles Pakistan will be able to set fields that could force him to slog his way out of a hole. Vaughan has played for England in the past when his knee has not been 100 per cent - he scored 177 against Australia in Adelaide three years ago after declaring himself fit five minutes before the toss - but his desire to get his side back in the series must not allow him to make an irresponsible or selfish decision.

Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, is keen for Vaughan to play, no matter the risk. He would be aware that, under Vaughan, England have won the Test after a defeat on their previous five occasions. "From my point of view he is ready to play," Fletcher said. "A lot of people have injuries but they keep playing."

Trescothick, whose father-in-law was seriously injured in an accident last weekend, informed the England team management of his desire to stay on tour yesterday morning. He said: "The past few days have been very traumatic for my family and I am naturally extremely concerned for my father-in-law, whose position is stable at present."

If Vaughan follows the advice of Fletcher, Ian Bell or Paul Collingwood will be dropped to accommodate him. Collingwood's bowling, and the idea of him easing Andrew Flintoff's workload, was one of the main reasons why he was originally selected ahead of Bell.

Yet in a Test they need to win it is hard to see Collingwood bowling more than the four overs he sent down in Multan. Bell was the more commanding figure in the first Test, but England are sticklers and it would come as no surprise to see Collingwood given another go.

If England are to get back in the series they will need greater contributions with the bat from Kevin Pietersen and Flintoff. It was not just the manner of their dismissals in the first Test that disappointed, it was their attitude during their limited time at the crease.

Both are capable of destroying attacks, but they need to realise that they cannot do this all the time. It would be folly for a coach to tell the pair to curb their natural games, but there are times when they need to score ugly runs and bat responsibly.

England's fast bowlers were outstanding in Multan and the success they had may tempt the selectors to pick James Anderson ahead of a spinner. Ashley Giles and Shaun Udal created very few problems for the opposition in the first Test and England could return to four seamers and a solitary slow bowler. How England view the pitch will decide which way they go but a rough square may increase the chances of reverse-swing, an aid the seamers were unable to employ last week.

Pakistan would have wanted to play an unchanged side after their 22 run victory, but it would be unfair of them to pick Shabbir Ahmed, whose bowling action was reported by match officials at the end of the first Test. It would be impossible for Shabbir to concentrate on his bowling with television cameras zooming in on his right elbow, and Naved-ul-Hasan can expect to play.

It will be easier for the hosts to accommodate Shoaib Malik's suspect action. Malik can continue to open the batting, and by picking Shahid Afridi ahead of Hasan Raza, Pakistan would have a second spinner. Raza looked a nervous wreck in Multan and Afridi's powerful stroke play could lighten up an afternoon.

England (from): M P Vaughan (c), M E Trescothick, A J Strauss, I R Bell, P D Collingwood, K P Pietersen, A Flintoff, G O Jones, A F Giles, S D Udal, M J Hoggard, S J Harmison, J Anderson.

Pakistan (probable): Inzamam-ul-Haq (c), Shoaib Malik, Salman Butt, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, Naved-ul-Hasan, Mohammad Sami, Shoaib Akhtar, Danish Kaneria.

Umpires: S Taufel (Aus) and D Hair (Aus).

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