x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Pakistan ponder Yousuf recall

The former captain could be dramatically recalled by Pakistan for their forthcoming Test series against England.

Mohammad Yousuf could be dramatically recalled by Pakistan for their forthcoming Test series against England. The former team captain has said he is willing to return to the international fold after six months in the wilderness. The 35-year-old, who has scored 7,431 runs in 88 Tests, was banned for life by the Pakistan Cricket Board in March along with fellow veteran Younus Khan after a disastrous tour of Australia which was marred by infighting

Yousuf retired from international cricket in protest at the harsh sanctions but, with the bans imposed since lifted, the path could now be clear for his return. The matter has taken on greater significance since Pakistan's 150-run defeat by Australia in the first Test at Lord's last week. Shahid Afridi, the reticent incumbent captain, announced his sudden retirement after that crushing defeat and the middle order has an inexperienced look with Azhar Ali and Umar Amin at three and four respectively. Yousuf will not be drafted in before the second Test at Headingley, which begins tomorrow, but the England series starting later this month is now a real possibility. "He can replace Afridi but the management haven't decided yet who will come," Ijaz Ahmed, the assistant coach, said. "It could come out in a couple of days. "Maybe later, somebody will come, but not at the moment." A return for Younus, who has been playing county cricket at Surrey, is also possible but Yousuf seems the more likely replacement. "These are the only two players we are talking about, Younus Khan and Yousuf," Ahmed said. "Let's see, it might be decided about Yousuf. Yousuf might be coming here." Australia are confident Ben Hilfenhaus, the seam bowler, will be fit to face Pakistan in the second Test. Hilfenhaus is a doubt after suffering a shoulder injury while fielding in the first Test victory at Lord's. The uncapped Peter George is standing by to take his place and Clint McKay has been added to the squad as cover, but Michael Clarke, the vice-captain, feels Hilfenhaus is winning his fitness race. "He is still seeing the physio, but he is certainly improving," Clarke said. "He has had a few niggles over the last couple of years so he will be disappointed if he misses the Test match. "He is in good hands with Alex [Kountouris], our physio, he knows what is going on. "He has spent a lot of time with Hilfy over the last year or so, so I think he will get him on the park. "Hopefully he will be right come day one of the Test match." Australia seem unlikely to make any other changes. Ricky Ponting's men are hoping to wrap up a 2-0 series victory. Hilfenhaus, 27, was arguably Australia's most impressive seamer in a match ultimately settled by the part-time spin of Marcus North. George, 23, was a late addition to the initial squad as replacement for the injured Ryan Harris while the 27-year-old McKay has been in Leeds playing Twenty20 cricket for Yorkshire. * PA