Pakistan move on from Yousuf absence
Pakistan are putting a cheerier spin on the loss of Mohammad Yousuf from their middle order ahead of a much-awaited ODI series against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi next week.
Yousuf, one of Pakistan's most productive ODI batsman in recent years, was selected in the 15-man squad, but within hours of the inclusion, it emerged that he had signed with the unauthorised ICL. As per board policy, he has now been banned from representing Pakistan.
But Intikhab Alam, Pakistan's new coach, believes the absence had to be looked at positively. "I don't think any cricketer is bigger than the game. I feel very sad about his decision but good luck to him.
"But whoever takes his place it is an opportunity for him. Amit Mishra came in because Anil Kumble got injured so this is how cricket is. Our bench strength we are looking to build so it shouldn't be a problem. Maybe we won't miss him as much in ODIs as we will do in Tests."
Yousuf criticised captain Shoaib Malik and the team management for not giving him enough respect, as explanation for his decision to join the ICL. But both captain and coach played down the barbs, claiming they had no sense of what was about to happen.
"He went without telling anyone which wasn't right," Intikhab said. "I didn't get a chance to speak to him as far as his comments criticising the management go. If he had come to me I would have spoken to him."
Malik, who has suffered persistent reports through his tenure of senior-player dissatisfaction, also questioned Yousuf's contentions, claiming there was no "communications gap" with senior players in the team. "I don't agree with his criticism. There was no communication gap - I have played with senior players like Inzamam and Yousuf my whole career. All senior players have been supportive. I have learnt a lot from them.
"I never felt Yousuf was upset over anything. In the Pentangular matches for Punjab everything was normal. He missed the last game, I was told, because his wife was ill."
Yousuf's place in the squad has been taken by the prolific young Karachi batsman, Khalid Latif. It is expected, however, that Fawad Alam, the young allrounder, will take Yousuf's place in the matches initially.
Pakistan travel to Abu Dhabi on Sunday and the first ODI is scheduled for November 12.