The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Inzi, Youhana unlikely
- First Test vs South Africa - Rashid Latif ready to play if offered captaincy

Lahore: Pakistan may need a new captain for the Test series against South Africa after Inzamam-ul-Haq was virtually ruled out of the first match with a hamstring injury.

“Inzamam is unlikely to be available for the first Test, he has conveyed this to the team management,” Pakistan manager Haroon Rasheed said on Monday.

Pakistan vice-captain Yousuf Youhana is also doubtful for the first Test, which begins on Friday, and Rasheed said he would undergo an examination on Tuesday.

“Youhana also has a hamstring problem like Inzamam and he is feeling uncomfortable batting and fielding,” he said. “He will be examined by doctors, only then will we know if he can play in the first Test. His chances at the moment are 50-50.”

Inzamam, a veteran of 88 Tests and 298 one-day games, also missed two matches of the one-day series against South Africa with a strained hamstring, and was virtually a passenger on Sunday after straining the muscle again while batting.

Former captain Rashid Latif is also not available after pulling out of the Test series for personal reasons.

Wicketkeeper Latif stepped down as captain just before the series against South Africa after completing a five-match ban for taking a disputed catch during the third Test against Bangladesh last month.

But Latif said if there was a genuine captaincy crisis he would reconsider his decision not to play in the Tests.

“I have made my decision but if the circumstances dictate otherwise and if the PCB and selectors want me, I can rethink,” he said. PCB media manager Samiul Hasan said that the squad for the first Test would be announced on Tuesday.

Inzamam, Latif and Youhana are the three most senior players in the team followed by Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Akhtar and Younis Khan. PCB sources ruled out a recall for former captain Moin Khan, who was dropped after the 2001 New Zealand tour.

Simons happy with show

Meanwhile, a proud South African coach Eric Simons is happy with his team’s one-day International series win over Pakistan as they banished a reputation for failin0g to perform in big matches.

“I am very proud over this win as my side adapted to the conditions well and confronted the issue of not doing well in big matches so well,” Simons said after South Africa posted a seven-wicket win in the day-night match to clinch the series 3-2.

It was a remarkable turnaround by the Proteas, who had lost the first two games.

Labelled as ‘chokers’ for failing to win crunch games, the Proteas were under pressure. Without banned captain Graeme Smith and allrounder Andrew Hall, the team was somewhat depleted too.

“We lost the first two matches and coming back from that deficit was something praiseworthy and everyone played well,” said Simons.

“Coming to the subcontinent, we needed to do some basics like rotating the strike and bowling at the death… I am pleased we did all that well. And we fielded well in all five games,” the coach.

Stand-in captain Mark Boucher agreed detractors would be silenced by his team’s resilience.

“This performance under pressure, needing to win the last game and without the captain and Hall, would silence all those who say we don’t perform in the crucial matches,” said Boucher.

Inzamam was a disappointed man. “I wasn’t expecting to lose after winning the first two matches and the end result leaves me bitterly disappointed,” said the Pakistan captain. He praised the South Africans for coming back so strongly. “They displayed remarkable resilience.”

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