THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, KARACHI, 27th SEPTEMBER 2013:
A gruelling meeting yesterday between the selection committee and the team management to select the Test squad for the South Africa series ended with only the announcement of the probables and the Pakistan A team for a side game against the Proteas.
The selection committee being supervised by Salim Jaffar and the team management – including Misbahul Haq (captain), Dav Whatmore (head coach) and Moin Khan (manager) — assembled at the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) head office in Lahore to discuss the squad which was later assessed by caretaker chairman Najam Sethi.
As expected, the PCB officially announced the decision to retain Misbah to lead the Test side amid debate about the leadership skills of the veteran after the team’s shock defeat to Zimbabwe in the Harare Test.
The team announcement, which was expected yesterday, was delayed and is now tipped to be made next week. Instead, the PCB announced the preliminary squad comprising 28 players besides naming 15 players for Pakistan A for the three-day game to be played from October 8.
The two-match Test series will begin on October 14 in Abu Dhabi.
An official close to the selection committee said the PCB wanted to assess the players during the training camp that will run from September 30 to October 6 in Lahore.
“There will be a three-day match [October 2-4] during the camp,” the official told The Express Tribune. “The squad will be named probably after that and the performance in it will count. Being the host board, the PCB can take its time before announcing the team.”
Hafeez given Test lifeline
The delay in announcement enhanced Mohammad Hafeez’s chance of retaining his place in the Test squad which fell in jeopardy.
The all-rounder is at risk of losing his Test berth after a string of failures throughout this year. Hafeez was included among the probables and an impressive show in the practice game can save his place, according to the official.
Asad Shafiq, whose place was also debated, appeared to be a solid candidate for the Test squad after being named in the Pakistan A team.
Gul, Taufeeq and Farhat overlooked
The announcement of the probables came as a shock for fast-bowler Umar Gul, who last week declared himself fit for the upcoming series.
Gul has been out of the team since the tour of South Africa in February this year due to a surgery on his right knee, missing the ICC Champions Trophy besides the West Indies and Zimbabwe assignments.
Although the fast-bowler was training hard to prove his fitness, the official declared he was not completely ready for the longer version.
Meanwhile, speculations of Misbah’s vote for opening batsman Taufeeq Umar also ended with his snub from the list along with Imran Farhat, despite the batsman making himself available for the tour.
Amin to lead Pakistan A squad
Umar Amin, dubbed as a future prospect for middle-order batting, was named captain of the Pakistan A squad.
The team also includes Ahmed Jamal who won the ‘King of Speed’ title under Wasim Akram’s supervision.
Opening batsman Ahmed Shahzad has also been included in the side that will depart for the UAE on October 5.
Test series probables
Shaan Masood, Khurram Manzoor, Sohaib Maqsood, Younus Khan, Misbahul Haq (c), Faisal Iqbal, Adnan Akmal (wk), Abdur Rehman, Usman Qadir, Junaid Khan, Rahat Ali, Wahab Riaz, Ahmed Shahzad, Muhammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Umar Amin, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqar Babar, Yasir Shah, Aizaz Cheema, Ehsan Adil, Ahmed Jamal, Akbarur Rehman, Imran Khan, Muhammad Rizwan (wk)
Shaan Masood, Ahmad Shahzad, Azhar Ali, Umar Amin (c), Faisal Iqbal, Asad Shafiq, Ehsan Adil, Ahmad Jamal, Akbarur Rehman, Usman Qadir, Yasir Shah, Sohaib Maqsood, Aizaz Cheema, Imran Khan, Muhammad Rizwan (wk)