Younis Khan's chances of playing in Sydney thin
The chances of Younis Khan appearing for Pakistan in the New Year Test in Sydney have reduced significantly after no further decision was taken on the Pakistan team management's request to call up the former captain to bolster the batting.
The second Test is due to begin on January 3 and given the considerable travel time between the two countries, even if the request is accepted tomorrow and Younis were to leave the same day, he might struggle to be ready in time for the Test on Sunday.
In any case, it appears as if the selection committee is not entirely convinced of the need for Younis, at least without him having attempted to find some kind of form first in the RBS Pentangular Cup, a domestic tournament due to begin on January 1. "It is not like the team is losing just because he isn't there," a member of the selection committee told Cricinfo.
"The Pentangular is happening and that would be a good way for him to play and get some practice. The Sydney Test is looking very unlikely right now and no decision was taken today. And who will he replace there? Various batsmen have scored some runs here so it might be unfair to drop them."
Initially, the selection committee appeared to be waiting for the result of the first Test in Melbourne, which Pakistan ultimately lost by 170 runs, before taking a decision. Mohammad Yousuf, Pakistan's captain, reiterated after the match that the side needed Younis and that a request had been made some time ago.
But there appears to be a gap in communication: one selector claims that no official request has come in writing to them from Australia and another said that the chairman of the PCB, Ijaz Butt, had received the request and was going to consider it after discussing it with the selectors. That, in all probability, will now happen tomorrow.
Amid the confusion, it is increasing likely that Pakistan will have to do without Younis as they attempt to level the series in Sydney. Pakistan's batting struggled in both innings of the first Test, bowled out for 258 and 251 on what was widely acknowledged to be an unusually placid MCG surface. On the final morning, they lost seven wickets for 81 and it prolonged a run in which they have, as a side, passed 350 only twice in 14 Test innings.
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo