Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Asif has been ruled out of today's opening Test match against England at Lord's.
Asif, who tormented England's tourists with ten wickets in Pakistan A's victory last winter, suffered an elbow injury at the weekend and failed to take part in pre-match practice yesterday.
With Shoaib Akhtar and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan injured, it was hoped that Asif - has who played for Leicestershire this summer and has taken 25 wickets in five Tests with a strike rate of only 37.7 - would regain fitness with the aid of a cortisone jab but coach Bob Woolmer said: "Unfortunately, he hasn't reacted properly to the injection he had, so he will be out."
Another with an elbow problem is opening batsman Shoaib Malik who scored 148 not out in his most recent Test innings, against Sri Lanka in Colombo in late March.
Woolmer said: "He's struggling. He had a cortisone injection last night [Tuesday] so it depends what happens to it as a reaction."
Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq said: "There is a problem with his fielding because he cannot throw. The better chance is he plays but, once we have seen him field, we will decide whether to select him."
Pakistan start the four-match series having overtaken England in the Test rankings. Their score is 120, seven points ahead of injury-hit England and a total bettered only by Australia.
Since March 2005, Pakistan are unbeaten in five campaigns, including a 2-0 victory over England before Christmas, a 1-0 success in Sri Lanka and a 1-0 home triumph over India in January that came in extraordinary fashion in the deciding third Test after they were sent in at Karachi. Struggling on nought for three after Irfan Pathan's first-over hat-trick and later 39 for six, they recovered to such an extent that their remaining 11 wickets produced 805 runs in a 341-run victory.
Inzamam said: "It doesn't matter where you are in the rankings, every series is a new one and if you play good cricket, you will win. It is good for the team because this is a team that is coming up."
England need to win the series to leapfrog their opponents and return to their long-held position as Australia's closest challengers. However, in Pakistan's three home Tests against England last winter, Inzamam scored 431 runs in five innings (two centuries and three fifties) while Mohammad Yousuf and Salman Butt totalled 342 and 300 respectively, also from five innings.
Pakistan's preparations have not been smooth on the tour as they were dismissed cheaply by England A at Canterbury and faced declaration-style bowling on the final day.
The tourists were irked by England's second string using ten bowlers on Sunday but Inzamam laughed off the issue yesterday by saying "sometimes these things happen".
Inzamam will accompany a third English captain in four Tests at cricket's home with Andrew Strauss captain for the first time, following Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick's job-share in the winter. All-rounder Andrew Flintoff is scheduled to lead in the second Test at Old Trafford once he has regained full fitness from an ankle injury.
But Inzamam has little sympathy for the hosts' injury concerns, saying: "Nowadays, too much cricket is happening, so someone is unfit for every team. It's not just the England team, there is the same thing in Pakistan and other teams around the world."