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Langer doubtful for second Test

MELBOURNE, DEC. 23. Australia opening batsman Justin Langer is rated a ``50-50'' chance to play in Sunday's second Test against Pakistan after suffering a back injury, team physiotherapist Errol Alcott said.

Alcott said Langer suffered the injury while bending down to pick up a ball during practice at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday.

A scan revealed Langer has a bulging disc in his lower back.

``(He has) very severe back pain,'' Alcott said.

``It's 50 per cent he might play, 50 per cent he might not play. But it's just a bit too early (to say) at this stage.''

Langer is Test cricket's leading scorer in 2004 with 1,426 runs, including five centuries.

The 34-year-old left-hander scored 191 and 97 in last week's first Test against Pakistan in Perth, where Australia won by 491 runs.

``At the moment he's in bed and not feeling very good,'' Alcott added.

Katich called up

Cricket Australia's National Selection Panel (NSP) later announced that Simon Katich has been called up as cover for Langer.

Reacting to this unexpected Christmas gift, Katich said, ``the news came as a huge surprise. It was probably the last thing I expected as I was out and about dropping off Christmas presents."

Katich will travel to Melbourne ahead of Friday's team training session at the MCG, and has been placed on stand-by if Langer can't prove his fitness by Boxing day. — Agencies

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