|Event:||England in Pakistan 2005/06|
DateLine: 10th November 2005
England are hoping to bounce back from their woeful build-up to the first Test against Pakistan in Multan starting on Saturday -- whether or not injured skipper Michael Vaughan is playing.
Vaughan is said to be very doubtful for the Test and could even be out of the whole series after twisting his right knee in their warm-up match in Lahore on Monday.
In the same game the tourists -- who had come to Pakistan on a high after their historic 2-1 Ashes win over Australia in September -- suffered an embarrassing six-wicket defeat at the hands of Pakistan A.
"It's not ideal. But we have quality players and have faced such situations before and I hope they can lift their intensity to the level required for Tests," England coach Duncan Fletcher said on Wednesday.
If Vaughan is ruled out, veteran opener Marcus Trescothick will most likely take over as captain, a repeat of their last year's Lord's Test against New Zealand when Vaughan hurt the same knee.
England successfully lifted their spirits to win successive home series against New Zealand and the West Indies and then beat South Africa away from home in 2004 -- after also losing to South Africa A.
They then polished off a hapless Bangladesh 2-0 and snatched back the Ashes from Australia after a gap of 18 years.
The winning streak helped England reach number two in the world Test rankings after years in the doldrums,. They can seize the top spot if they win in Pakistan and then in India early next year.
But the wheels came off England's bandwagon as soon as they reached Pakistan, with their top orde batsmen flopping in both the side matches.
Even in their 52-run win in the tour opener at Rawalpindi, Vaughan, opener Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell performed poorly.
Trescothick, who hit an unbeaten 124 in the first match, failed twice in the second.
"We would have liked a few more overs for our batters but they are quality players and I hope they put up their best in the Tests," said Fletcher.
To exploit their rivals' misery, Pakistan have so far kept secret whether they will go with two leg-spinners or with three seamers.
But the home side will themselves miss Abdul Razzaq's all-round skills after he was ruled out of the first Test due to an elbow injury.
"We have yet to decide on a combination and a final team will be decided only after seeing the pitch on Friday," said captain Inzamam-ul Haq, whose side plays its third Test at the venue.
(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)