Pakistan gears up for Twenty20 July 27, 2007

Karachi camp gets underway

Cricinfo staff

Shoaib Malik and team-mates gear up for Twenty20 World Championship © AFP

Pakistan's top cricketers begin the third phase of their summer conditioning camps in Karachi, aiming to put in extensive Twenty20 match practice by playing a series of practice games over the next eleven days in a bid to prepare for the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa.

Twenty-six members of Pakistan's 30-man probable squad will play two matches a day, every alternate day at the National Stadium. Four players, including Younis Khan, have been exempted from the camp for various reasons.

Talat Ali, Pakistan manager and camp-in-charge, told The News that the morning matches will start at 10am while the evening games would begin at 2pm local time. The players took part in a series of similar games in the camp at Lahore.

A total of 12 matches will be played during the camp, after which national selectors will prune the 30-man list down to the final 15-man squad for the tournament. Apart from the practice games, players will also undergo regular training and fielding sessions.

"We want our players to be in top form and in peak physical fitness when they leave for South Africa," said Talat, a former Test cricketer, who is at the helm of the national team's preparations until Geoff Lawson arrives in Pakistan towards the end of August. Haroon Rasheed and Aaqib Javed are also working at the camp as specialist batting and bowling coaches.

Meanwhile, there is speculation in the media that Mohammad Yousuf might not make the cut for the Twenty20 World Championship. The News, quoting selection sources, said that 12 names had already been inked in for the tournament but the remaining three spots were being fought over by seven players, including Yousuf and allrounder Abdul Razzaq.

It is thought that Yousuf's relatively poorer fielding skills may go against him in the final equation. Razzaq might also be a doubt because of concerns over his health; having missed the World Cup earlier this year with a knee injury, Razzaq missed much of the camp in Lahore recently with health complications.

The final squad is expected to be announced on August 6.