It appears the Pakistan Cricket Board may be about to execute the latest in a long series of U-turns by offering former captain Mohammed Yousuf an opportunity to return from his self-imposed international exile for the upcoming Test series with England.
But the 35-year-old, initially banned for life following last year’s acrimonious tour of Australia, won’t be re-instated in time to face the Aussies in the Second Test at Headingley this week. Such are the internal politics of Pakistan cricket that they’ll go into the series decider with yet another new man in charge on the field, Salman Butt having replaced Shahid Afridi who stepped down following the 150-run defeat to Australia in the First Test at Lord’s.
Pakistan may be unable to play Test matches on home soil at present but they’ll enjoy massive support at Headingley as they attempt to square the two-match series. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to see how their inexperienced top order is going to score enough runs off the Aussie bowling, which is beginning to gel nicely ahead of the Ashes, to be competitive. Butt, top scorer in the First Test, is 10/3 with Paddy Power to be his side’s leading run-maker again but Totesport may have underestimated the claims of Kamran Akmal, whom they’ve put up at 8/1. The talented youngster is only a 6/1 chance with most layers.
Australia are a best 4/5 with Bet365 to win the Second Test with Pakistan a general 13/2. The draw can be backed at a general 15/8.