Younis takes the reins as Woolmer hails spirit amid injuries

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The Independent Online

Younis Khan will provide Pakistan with some rare good news on the injury front as the vice-captain returns to lead the tourists in their four-day match against Northamptonshire today.

The 28-year-old missed the drawn first Test against England at Lord's due to a lingering knee niggle. But today he will take over the leadership from Inzamam-ul-Haq, one of only a few Pakistan players resting following the team's exertions last week.

Pakistan will field rather a patched-up team with the all-rounder Abdul Razzaq, who is troubled by a slight back problem, the leg-spinner Danish Kaneria and Mohammad Yousuf, the man of the match at Lord's, putting their feet up.

The coach, Bob Woolmer, welcomed the resumption of Younis' tour, amid praise for the way the injury-hit Pakistanis dug in throughout the Test series opener.

"He is 100 per cent fit and will be back and firing, which is very good news for us," Woolmer said. "The positives of the Test were that we didn't crumble in the face of a large total, that we continued the fighting spirit we have shown over the last 18 months and that we are still in the series with a chance of winning."

The Pakistan tour management are still mulling over bringing in temporary recruits who are playing club cricket here, with the off-spinner Arshad Khan among those under consideration. But the medium-pacer Kamran Hussain will not be joining, after initial contact was made.

The three new additions - Taufeeq Umar, Samiullah Niazi and Rao Iftikhar Anjum - will play today and should not need long to acclimatise, with temperatures of more than 30C expected. The manager Zaheer Abbas said: "We are quite used to this weather. But we are also keen to give players who were under the sun last week a rest."

The veteran leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed, 36, could be called up ahead of the second Test at Old Trafford which starts next Thursday after the Pakistan Cricket Board ratified his inclusion as the 17th member of the touring party.

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