Pakistan delay announcing Test squad
Pakistan have postponed naming their squad for the two Tests against Australia until they see how their A team fares in the practice game between October 15 and 18 in Sharjah.
Injuries to frontline players have left them short of options - Junaid Khan is ruled out, Wahab Riaz needs "two-three weeks" of rehabilitation for his knee injury, and Mohammad Hafeez has a split webbing - but the PCB said it would name a tentative 18-man squad within a day.
"The delay was forced on us owing to injuries to a bunch of frontline players," Moin Khan, the chief selector, said on Monday, the day the squad was to be selected. "With a view to field the best possible team, the selectors would like to wait for an update on their fitness as well as on the form of the players featuring in the 'A' game against Australia."
Although Hafeez was not the part of the Test squad against Sri Lanka in August, the selectors might reconsider him in light of Pakistan's poor form recently. His hand has healed well and his fitness will be checked again on Tuesday at the nets, according to the General Manager of Sports Medicine for PCB, Sohail Saleem.
"There was neither any ooze nor any significant pain, so he [Hafeez] was advised to start batting from Monday with the help of support," Saleem said. "On examination, the wound required suturing while the underlying musculature appeared intact. He was advised to protect his hand while fielding."
Junaid's case is less promising. He returned to Pakistan after twisting his right knee during fielding practice ahead of the first ODI against Australia.
"On October 7, scan results indicated a tear of the posterior horn of the medial meniscus with the presence of a mild joint effusion," Saleem said. "He was advised rest as a part of conservative management. He will be examined by me and an orthopedic surgeon on October 14 before we could take a decision on conservative or surgical management of his injury."
Wahab picked up his injury while bowling in the second ODI and was subsequently pulled out of the match. Although he is able to walk without pain, his knee is not fit enough to take the load of bowling. Unless things improve, Wahab will also fly back to Pakistan and will be monitored at the National Cricket Academy.
"Wahab's condition will be ascertained in detail on his arrival shortly from the UAE. He will undergo a rehab period and a progressive return to play will be implemented at the NCA," said Saleem. "In this regard, we will pursue a conservative approach to injury management/ rehab programme."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson