Pakistan batting coach Mohammad Yousuf opts out of Afghanistan T20I series
Yousuf had been named interim head coach on March 13, but that decision was changed just a day later
Mohammad Yousuf, who had been appointed the interim batting coach of the Pakistan men's team, has withdrawn from the upcoming T20I series against Afghanistan in Sharjah citing personal reasons. As a result, Abdur Rehman, the interim head coach, has taken over the batting coach's responsibilities too.
Yousuf had been announced as the interim head coach on March 13, but that changed within a day when Najam Sethi, the PCB chairperson, tweeted a list of support staff that were different from the earlier lot. The PCB clarified that the announcement about Yousuf was erroneous and that he would continue as the batting coach.
But hours before the team's departure for the UAE on Wednesday afternoon - the series starts on Friday - Yousuf pulled out.
Pakistan haven't had a formal head coach since Saqlain Mushtaq's contract ended. The PCB made interim arrangements by picking coaches from the domestic set-up, and elevated Rehman to the main role. Umar Gul came in as bowling coach, while Yousuf and Abdul Majeed continued as the batting and fielding coaches, respectively.
Pakistan name touring party before finalising coaching staff
As for the squad for the series, it was named on March 13, a day before the staff was announced. The squad was named by the Haroon Rasheed-led selections committee and had wholesale changes: Imad Wasim and Faheem Ashraf have been recalled, while Shadab Khan has been named captain, and big PSL 2023 performers Saim Ayub and Ihsanullah have received call-ups for the first time. The core of the squad, meanwhile, has been rested - Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Haris Rauf, Fakhar Zaman and Shaheen Afridi don't figure in the list.
"I understand the coaching staff was named after the squad because it's a temporary job," Rehman said on Tuesday. "Had there been a permanent staff, this question should have been more relevant, but since I have been given an interim job, my role is just to try and win the series."
Rehman was also asked about heading a team with many senior coaches, and he said, "I am doing this job for the last 15 years. It's not like I will be dictating terms to them. In fact, having them with me gives me confidence. It's a privilege to work with them; we have to work together and I have to take advantage of their experience.
"Umar Gul is a big name in T20 cricket, Mohammad Yousuf is a big name, who has done big service for the country, and it's a blessing that you have such people with you in the dressing room. It's a team job and we will be working together. Every decision regarding the team will be taken after discussion within the team."
The first T20I will be played on March 24, followed by two back-to-back games on March 26 and 27. This will the first bilateral series in any format between the countries.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent