The third and final test starts at Karachi on Sunday but not with the degree of enthusiasm, with which the tour of Sri Lanka team commenced. The Pakistan team's double defeat in the series of three one-day internationals followed by the two tests has dampened the excitement of cricket lovers. The Karachi test is thus expected to be of only academic interest, not only for the ordinary cricket fans but also for those deeply involved with the game.
Karachi, the former capital of Pakistan, is a cosmopolitan city with a population of over ten million people. Apart from being well known for its political as well as socio-cultural activities, it is the country's major centre of commerce and industry. An attractive tourist resort, Karachi is the only seaport in the country, apart from Gwadar, a small harbour town under development on the Baluchistan coast. Karachi remained the capital of Pakistan till Islamabad emerged as new seat of the Government in early sixties.
Since Pakistan is creation in 1947, Karachi is sharing with Lahore, the honour of being a top sports centre. Besides housing the headquarters of Pakistan Hockey Federation, Karachi remains a lively centre of all sports activity.
Cricket is the favorite game of the Karachiites, the credit for which must go to the famous "Mohammad Family" of which the four brothers, Hanif, Mushtaq, Wazir, and Sadiq represented Pakistan in test cricket. Two of them Hanif Mohammad and Mushtaq Mohammad had the honour of being captains of the Pakistan cricket team. In addition to the above, the city of Karachi has produced a host of cricket stars, the most distinguished among them being the legendary Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas, the Asia Bradman and Wasim Bari, the famous wicket keeper, were the other distinguished players, who regularly played for Karachi. In the present Pakistan team skipper Saeed Anwar belongs to Karachi alongwith few others.
National stadium Karachi, the venue of this test is one of the best cricket centres in the world. It enjoys the honour of having hosted the World Cup semi finals in 1987 and 1996. The stadium has a capacity of around 35000 spectators.
The injury stricken Pakistan team has been making changes in its squad for almost every match. It shall do so for this test also. Former skipper and speedster Wasim Akram and wicket keeper Moin Khan having recovered from their injuries are likely to regain their places. Aamer Sohail, the ace opener, who managed to stage a come back after a lapse of over two years, having failed to perform well in the two tests is out of the squad.
All rounder Abdur Razzaq and off spinner Saqlain Mushtaq, continue to remain on the injured list. The two top players, batsman Ijaz Ahmed and leg spinner Mushtaq Ahmed are included in the squad of 16 announced by the Pakistan Cricket Board. It is not known whether they will be included in the final XI. The squad of 16 comprises of Saeed Anwar (captain), Imran Nazir, Wajahatullah Wasti, Ijaz Ahmed, Yousuf Youhana, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Younis Khan, Wasim Akram, Arshad Khan, Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis, Shahid Afridi, Irfan Fazil, Mohammad Akram, Mushtaq Ahmed and Moin Khan.
In a meeting of the PCB held on Friday, Javed Miandad was appointed coach of the team in place of Intikhab Alam.
According to the latest international ranking, Sri Lanka has jumped to 3rd position in the world after Australia and South Africa, while Pakistan is placed at No.5. On account of its prolific success against Pakistan in the current series Sri Lanka has also been declared as Asia's top team.
Sri Lanka thus starts the Karachi test with a sky-high morale, while Pakistan has to salvage a part of the lost treasure, if the boys play the game sensibly and dedicate themselves fully to the cause of atleast winning the last game.