Beleaguered Pakistan turn to Yousuf
Pakistan have responded to their miserable batting performance in the first npower Test against England by recalling veteran batsman Mohammad Yousuf just four months after he announced his retirement.
Yousuf has endured a turbulent time of late, captaining his country in their miserable, winless tour of Australia over the winter before being banned for life by the Pakistan Cricket Board - one of a number of harsh punishments doled out following an investigation into the trip Down Under.
The ban was later lifted, but the veteran responded to the news by confirming his retirement.
Such decisions are not always permanent in Pakistan cricket, though, and talk of a recall has been persistent throughout their tour of England.
New captain Salman Butt and coach Waqar Younis have frequently denied Yousuf or Younus Khan - another out of favour ex-skipper - would be summoned.
But in the light of today’s 354-run defeat at Trent Bridge, a result hastened by Pakistan’s dismal 80 all out in the second innings, that position seems to have softened.
Yousuf, 35, has a pedigree none of the current Pakistan team can come close to, with 24 Test centuries to his name and a career average of 53.07 in 88 matches.
Leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, who returned match figures of 1-171 in Nottingham, is also expected to return to county cricket with Essex, with teenage slow left-armer Raza Hasan poised to take his place.
A PCB statement released from Lahore confirmed the squad changes.
It read: “Mohammad Yousuf and Raza Hasan are added to the national squad with immediate effect.
“Danish Kaneria is released from the national team and is now available to play for his county Essex. His services will be available for the national squad if required.”
Yousuf’s recall in particular represents a considerable u-turn for Pakistan, with Waqar claiming as recently as yesterday that he was not hopeful of adding reinforcements.
Asked after the third day’s play whether Yousuf and Younus would be returning, he answered: “One [Yousuf] is retired - we can't bring someone back who is retired - and the other [Younus] has serious issues with the cricket board.”
Butt had also been cool on the prospect, adding after today’s early finish: “To bring somebody in or to send somebody back is not in my hands. That is what the selectors are there for, and it is for the board to decide.'”
For Essex, Kaneria’s return presents a significant boost. Provided he is not drafted back into the Test squad he will now be available for the Friends Provident t20 finals day on August 14.
The county had signed West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo to compensate for the absence of Kaneria and the departed Scott Styris, but will now be able to field the two permitted overseas players.