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Pakistani captain drops out of New Zealand Test

HAMILTON, New Zealand, March 26 (AFP) - Pakistan cricket captain Moin Khan Monday dropped out of the third cricket Test with New Zealand with an injured right knee.

"I can't play. It would be too painful," he said.

Pakistan lead the series 1-0 and face a wicket here likely to favour them, although New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming is confident of ending the season on a high.

Fleming was relieved to be back here, the scene of a nine-wicket win over the West Indies and a topsy-turvy six-wicket loss to Australia last summer.

While the composition of the home side's bowling attack was still uncertain until a final inspection of the pitch Tuesday, Fleming was happy not to be playing a specialist spinner for the first time in 44 Tests over five years.

"It's a gamble, but in situations like this you may have to gamble a little bit to win it," Fleming said.

"We're not going to die wondering, certainly 2-0 isn't great but the opportunity of going 1-1 and taking a risk is a much better proposition."

New Zealand are tempted to put all their eggs in one basket with faster bowlers Daryl Tuffey, Chris Martin and the recalled James Franklin along with possible debutant Jacob Oram.

The only drawback is not having a spinner later in the match on a pitch which takes turn.

Fleming said a win in Hamilton would mean a satisfactory ending to a series against one of the world's better sides.

"If we can finish the season with the Test win it would leave a better taste in the mouth, it would mean a one-day series win and a tied series in the Tests which isn't too bad.

"It's a much better wicket for us, it's suited to us."

Moin Khan didn't appear at the team's final training and later confirmed he would not be playing.

Moin, 29, said he had been carrying the injury for some time and it flared up again on the last day of the drawn second Test.

"I'll be out for six weeks. I was looking forward to this Test and perhaps leading Pakistan to a series victory, but it's not to be."

Inzamam-ul-Haq will take over the captaincy while Hamuyan Farhat will don the gloves.

Wasim Akram, Saeed Anwar, Azhar Mahmood and Abdur Razzaq have already returned home with injury or illness during the six-week tour.

Moin left the field during the final day of the drawn second Test in Christchurch but his injury worsened and he was told by medical staff to have three days off and receive treatment.

Coach Javed Miandad said his side had no problems playing on a greener surface after the dull portable pitches provided in Auckland and Christchurch.

The tourists were still uncertain over the composition of their bowling attack, but it seemed unlikely they would take in four pace bowlers and leave out top offspinner Saqlain Mushtaq.

"Saqlain is a class bowler, he can bowl on any kind of wicket," Miandad said.

It could mean Pakistan take an unchanged side from the second Test, barring the loss of Moin.

The last time the teams met in a Test in Hamilton was in 1993 when New Zealand were dismissed for 93 chasing 127 to win.

The chief destroyer in that match, Waqar Younis, is likely to play his last match on New Zealand soil Tuesday.


New Zealand (from): Stephen Fleming (captain), Mark Richardson, Matthew Bell, Mathew Sinclair, Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan, Adam Parore, Jacob Oram, James Franklin, Daryl Tuffey, Chris Martin, Grant Bradburn.

Pakistan (from): Inzamam-ul-Haq (captain), Imran Farhat, Ijaz Ahmed, Faisal Iqbal, Yousuf Youhana, Younis Khan, Saqlain Mushtaq, Waqar Younis, Fazle Akbar, Mohammad Sami, Humayun Farhat, Mushtaq Ahmed, Mohammad Akram.

Umpires: Daryl Harper (Aus), Steve Dunne (Nzl).

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