West Indies in Pakistan, 2006-07 October 30, 2006

Sami in contention against West Indies - Bari



Will Mohammad Sami seize his chance this time? © Getty Images

Mohammad Sami, the Pakistan fast bowler, stands a chance of regaining his place in the Pakistan squad for the home series against the West Indies in November after Wasim Bari, the chief selector, stated that Sami would appear in a proposed warm-up game in Lahore before the first Test. Sami has been asked to appear in a 'camp for future players' starting at Lahore from November 1.

"Though Sami failed badly during the tour of England, we have decided to give him another chance by playing him in a three-day match against the West Indies," Bari said. "He will have to perform to be in contention for selection in the Pakistan team."

Sami fell out of favour with national selectors after a disappointing tour of England earlier this summer when he featured as Pakistan's main strike bowler in the first three Tests in the absence of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif due to injuries. However, a possible international ban for Shoaib and Asif - after both tested positive for steroids - could bring Sami back in contention for a Test return.

Imran Khan, former Pakistan captain and one of Sami's biggest supporters, has time and again called for his inclusion in the team, saying that Pakistan cannot afford to drop a bowler who can hurl deliveries at 90 mph or faster.

But Bari said that Sami's express pace alone cannot earn him a recall. He made it clear that even if Shoaib and Asif are unavailable for the series against West Indies, Sami will only be considered if he shows any improvement.

Interestingly, the three-day match is not yet a part of the itinerary and the PCB is trying to squeeze it in ahead of the first Test, starting from November 11. The problem, however, is that West Indies have entered the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy and will only be able to arrive in Pakistan on November 6 if they reach the final of the Champions Trophy to be played in Mumbai next Sunday. The arrival would leave them with just a four-day period before the start of the opening Test.

Looking ahead to the home series, Bari has asked his players to lift their game if they are to have any chance of beating the resurgent West Indian side, especially after Pakistan's disappointing performance in India. Pakistan crumbled to 89 against South Africa and failed to make the semi-finals of the tournament.

"From where I see it, this West Indies team is a winning unit," Bari added. "The West Indies have an entirely different approach from us. Their bowling has become very good, the batting is more reliable and the fielding is simply superb. Their players have shown a lot of commitment in the Champions Trophy."

Bari rejected criticism from former players that Pakistan had relied too heavily on bits and pieces players. "I don't know who are these 'bits and pieces players' people are talking about. If they are pointing towards [Abdul] Razzaq, [Shahid] Afridi or [Mohammad] Hafeez then I would disagree. I will not include them in that category. They are genuine allrounders."