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Karachi association slams Pakistan team composition

Osman Samiuddin

August 11, 2010

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Fawad Alam works one away into the leg side, New Zealand v Pakistan, 1st Test, Dunedin, 3rd day, November 26, 2009
Questions have been raised about Fawad Alam's absence from the Test squad © Getty Images
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The Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA) has condemned the national side and the selection committee for failing to put together "a representative team" in the ongoing Test series against England. The statement articulates the growing disquiet in Karachi in particular over the absence of a number of players from the city and concern that the Pakistan team is being dominated by one province.

Following the exclusion of Danish Kaneria after the first Test, Tanvir Ahmed is the only player in the squad from Karachi, a city that has traditionally been a large provider to the national side. The KCCA's executive council met on Tuesday and slammed the selection committee, "for their biased attitude which totally ignored the talent of Karachi cricketers like Sarfraz Ahmed, Khurram Manzoor, Khalid Latif, Faisal Iqbal and Asad Shafiq. The PCB selectors have deliberately failed to consider the performances of the above mentioned cricketers in national tournaments."

With the exception of Sarfraz and Shafiq, few of those mentioned can have solid grievances; Sarfraz was back-up to Kamran Akmal and made his debut in the last Test in Australia only to find himself out of national reckoning under the selection committee of Mohsin Khan. Shafiq was the top-scorer in last season's Quaid-e-Azam trophy, one of only two men to score over a thousand runs.

Iqbal, Latif and Manzoor have all been given runs in the Test and ODI sides over the last year, though none have cemented a place with weight of performance. Though not mentioned in the statement, a number of ex-players have also asked questions about the continued absence of Fawad Alam from the Test side, and even that of Mohammad Sami.

The current Pakistan side is heavily dominated by players from the country's most populous province, Punjab, and it's capital Lahore in particular. Eight players in the 17-man squad are from Lahore and another six from around the province. Yasir Hameed and Umar Gul are from Khyber-Pakhtunkwa in the north-west and Tanvir, who was born in Kuwait, is from Karachi. Gul is now  injured and if Hameed is not picked for the next Test at The Oval, Pakistan will field, possibly for the first time ever, a national side comprised solely of players from one province.

Over the summer, a number of ex-players and former selectors have privately expressed their unease over the composition of the squad. "Karachi has produced less talent over the last few years, but to think that there is no place for any player from here is not right and gives the sense that there is something else at play," one former selector told Cricinfo. "There are deserving players, like Sarfraz and Fawad, and even Asad [Shafiq], who have been overlooked. For that matter, even Naved Yasin [from Multan and second-highest scorer in the Quaid trophy] has been overlooked wrongly."

The KCCA's statement signals the relighting of a historically bustling but often tense rivalry between Lahore and Karachi, the two biggest cricket centres for many years. The cities produced the vast majority of the national side's players, but as smaller towns in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkwa have begun contributing more in recent years, the rivalry had taken a back seat.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

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Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.
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