Woolmer believes humbled tourists will bounce back

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The Independent Online

Bob Woolmer has warned England of a Pakistani fightback in the third Test, starting today at Headingley. Pakistan were humbled by an innings and 120 runs in Manchester last weekend to go behind in the four-match series.

However, the Pakistan coach is expecting a staunch response from the tourists, who have a recent history of Test comebacks, having levelled campaigns in both West Indies and India last year. Woolmer said: "I would be very disappointed if we didn't fight back very hard in this Test. There is a determined air about the side, we cannot say what is going to happen but they will fight.

"We can bounce back - we have a reputation of doing that and the team are very determined. They were stung badly by the last performance and I hope that the boys can bounce back and hit England hard. Assuming the game goes the distance, which it looks as though it should do on the surface out there, then we have got to play a lot better cricket than we have done so far in this series."

Pakistan will have to revamp the top of their order once again with Imran Farhat almost certainly out because of a fractured finger. That could signal a recall for Salman Butt, who has failed to replicate his winter success against England on this tour, and possibly a promotion for Shahid Afridi. Woolmer added: "We had a pretty settled opening partnership against England in Pakistan and nothing really changed until Shoaib Malik failed to recovery from surgery. In the winter we were doing OK, averaging somewhere in the region of 60 for the first wicket so that was enough to see off the new ball."

With Pakistan keen to field four front-line bowlers, the one spot in which Afridi could be accommodated is as opener, from where he has made two of his five Test hundreds.

Pace has dominated wicket-taking in Leeds over the years yet Pakistan will be without a trio of their front-line attack. Shoaib Akhtar takes part in a Birmingham League match this weekend, Mohammad Asif has made some tentative progress in the nets back home, while Rana Naved-ul-Hasan may continue his rehabilitation with Sussex in the next couple of weeks.

"We are not making any excuses," insisted Woolmer, referring to the injuries to both teams. "Test cricket is 11 against 11 on the field and you cannot do anything about the guys who are not fit to play."

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