Vice-captain Younis Khan returns from injury to lead the Pakistanis in their four-day match against Northamptonshire today as the Pakistan Cricket Board ratified the inclusion of Mushtaq Ahmed, the veteran leg-spinner, as the 17th member of the touring party.
Khan, aged 28, missed the drawn first Test against England at Lord's due to a knee niggle and could be joined in the second Test, starting at Old Trafford on Thursday, by Mushtaq who is in the Sussex team playing against Middlesex at Southgate that started yesterday.
Khan will take over the leadership for today's match from Inzamam-ul-Haq, who is among those resting, in a rather a patched-up team. Others absent are all-rounder Abdul Razzaq, who is troubled by a slight back problem, leg-spinner Danish Kaneria and Lord's man-of-the-match Mohammad Yousuf.
Coach Bob Woolmer welcomed the resumption of Khan's tour, amid praise for how the injury-hit Pakistanis dug in throughout the first Test. "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."
Veteran leg-spinner Mush-taq has been suffering from sciatic pain but there are nodoubts about form, given his 53 wickets for Sussex in eight first-class outings this summer. Zaheer Abbas, the tourists' manager, said: "If we are going to call him for Old Trafford we have to play him," suggesting they would wait to view the Manchester surface before deciding. "He has been playing here and has done very well so there is no need for him to get a game beforehand."
The tour management are still mulling over bringing in temporary recruits, who are playing league cricket, with off-spinner Arshad Khan in consideration. Left-arm medium pacer Kamran Hussain will not be joining. The three additions to the tour-ists' full-time ranks - Taufeeq Umar, Samiullah Niazi and Rao Iftikhar Anjum - will face Northants.