While Pakistanís woes on the tour of England are set to continue in light of their recent performance, a slight relief against the lashing comes in the form of a two-day tour match against Worcestershire sandwiched by two Tests on either side.
Having drawn the two-Test series against Australia, Pakistan, riding high on confidence after beating Australia, were thrashed by England in consecutive Tests Ė by 354 runs at Trent Bridge and then nine wickets at Edgbaston.
Yousuf to return to playing eleven
The tour match will not only allow the team management to rest key players, including fast-bowlers Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif, it will also let the back-up players get some action in the middle. The most emphasis, however, will be on the return of Mohammad Yousuf, Pakistanís former captain, who flew into England on the eve of the second Test but was omitted from the playing eleven on fitness concerns.
Yousuf, however, is certain to feature in the two-day match that starts today as it provides the only practice opportunity before the two Tests and the five One-Day Internationals that Pakistan play against England next month. With an average of 70 in Tests against England, Yousuf was called out of voluntary retirement by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in order to revive Pakistanís hopes and bolster the fragile batting line-up the selection committee had chosen for the tour.
Management look for Gulís replacement
With Umar Gul ruled out of the remainder of the series, the team management will also keep an eye on Tanvir Ahmed and Wahab Riaz with either of the seamers likely to replace Gul for the third Test. No replacement has been sought by the team management for Gul thus confirming that either of the backup fast-bowlers could be playing their first international match on the tour.
Mohsin to meet the PCB
With a view to reversing their fortunes, the Pakistan squad may undergo some big changes during the remaining part of their tour as pressure grows on the PCB, national selectors and team management over the string of defeats in England.
Chief selector Mohsin Khan told PTI that he would be meeting PCB chief Ijaz Butt in the next two days in which future strategies for the team would be discussed.
ďIt will be an important meeting as we have to discuss the future tours of the Pakistan team as well as the performances on the ongoing tour of England,Ē said Mohsin.
Pakistan has a packed international calendar until the 2011 World Cup in the subcontinent with a Test and one-day series scheduled against South Africa in the UAE shortly after the conclusion of the England tour and then a full tour to New Zealand in the winter.