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Speculation grows over Inzamam's future

Speculation over the future of Inzamam-ul-Haq, the former Pakistan captain, is mounting with some reports claiming he is set to retire from Test cricket after playing in the second Test in Lahore against South Africa.

Geo TV and Jang, the Urdu-language daily, both reported that Inzamam had reached an agreement with the Pakistan Cricket Board which would see the batsman play one last Test at home before bowing out - unlike many ex-cricketers in Pakistan - with some grace and dignity.

The reports also suggested that the board may make a financial payment to Inzamam, a golden handshake of sorts, for announcing his retirement. This, however, was denied emphatically by a statement from the board, which stated "that all policy decisions regarding Inzamam will be announced in the next couple of days which will be in the larger interest of the game.

"The newspaper report that the PCB has carried out a deal with Inzamam by assuring him a guaranteed sum of 10 million rupees for his retirement from Test cricket, is absolutely incorrect," it said

None of these reports, however, have quoted Inzamam directly. The only newspaper to quote him on the topic, the Daily Express, another Urdu daily, has him denying any such plans. "I have no plans to retire at the moment. I am available for the second Test and have told the selectors of my desire," Inzamam said. However, to add to the confusion, the same newspaper's front page has also carried the retirement story. The Daily Express has also quoted Inzamam claiming he has cancelled his trip to London where he was expected to be present for hearings in the Darrell Hair case.

Inzamam stepped down from the captaincy and retired from ODIs after Pakistan's early exit at the World Cup earlier this year. He was initially keen to play on in Tests, but the board and selectors have, unofficially, been equally keen for him to step away and didn't award him a central contract.

To complicate matters further, Inzamam was also one of four players to sign up for the Indian Cricket League (ICL), a move which meant, according to the PCB's stance, that he would not be considered for Pakistan selection.

Yet Inzamam was, according to the selection committee, considered for the first Test squad against South Africa. He wasn't picked because he made himself unavailable. If he does play one last Test, Inzamam has an opportunity to surpass Javed Miandad as the leading Test run-scorer for Pakistan as he needs 20 runs to go past Miandad's haul of 8832.