A test of inexperience
After a year of impatient waiting, Pakistan's cricketers return to Test cricket at a venue that has robbed them of more matches than any other. Taking on a variable Sri Lankan team would have been challenge enough but Pakistan's selectors and captain have added to the task by conjuring an inexperienced team from their immediate disagreements.
The relationship between Younis Khan and Abdul Qadir will be interesting to observe, as both have strong opinions and are prone to actions inspired by emotion rather than cool reflection. At least, there will be no shortage of passion.
On balance, though, the outcome is intriguing. Yes, Kamran Akmal's selection continues to confound reason. Faisal Iqbal is an unexpected recall. And Sohail Tanvir's omission seems unduly harsh. Nonetheless, the selection strikes a populist note by recalling Fawad Alam and Asim Kamal, and offering opportunities to Sohail Khan and Mohammad Talha. An out and out rookie, Ahmed Shehzad, adds to the fascination, a typically random Pakistani punt.
Surely, Pakistan's isolation camp will not be enough to transform this wealth of inexperience into a winning combination against the old hands of Sri Lanka? Yet the final fifteen all have something to prove, none more than experienced players like Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Danish Kaneria, and Kamran Akmal.
With Sri Lanka focused on fond farewells to their excellent captain, Pakistan's hunger for Test cricket and success should give Younis Khan the opportunity to make a fighting start in a series that his team will not be expected to win.
Absence, however, makes the crowd grow hungrier too, and Pakistan's fans are notoriously unforgiving--and this is an occasion that requires patience. Pakistan have the right captain, and now they must find the right players. The question is how much tolerance and understanding the public and media will show as Pakistan cricket enters another era of rebuilding? But giving the current squad an opportunity is a decent enough beginning to the Age of Khan.
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here