Yusuf May be Ignored from Pakistan's World Cup Probables

Karachi, Nov 30 (IANS) Pakistan's cricket selectors are mulling the option of ignoring senior batsman Mohammad Yousuf for the World Cup 2011 because of his poor form and fitness.

Yousuf, 36, is one of the most prolific Pakistan batsmen of all time and is keen to feature in the country's World Cup campaign.

However, the former captain has failed to impress with his form and fitness and is likely to be snubbed when Pakistan name their 30-man provisional squad for the World Cup to be jointly hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Pakistan too were the co-hosts of the World Cup 2011, but the International Cricket Council controlling the game and international engagements dropped Pakistan after terrorists attacked the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore and later Australia called off Pakistan tour for security reasons.

Quoting sources, a report in the daily News revealed Tuesday that Pakistan's chief selector Mohsin Khan has discussed the best possible pool of players for the World Cup with captain Shahid Afridi and coach Waqar Younis.

Both the coach and the captain are convinced that Yousuf doesn't deserve a spot in the World Cup squad.

The national selection committee headed by Mohsin Khan is also reluctant to push for Yousuf's case especially after the batsman was forced to pull out of the Test series against South Africa in the UAE earlier this month.

Yousuf suffered a recurrence of an old groin injury prior to the toss on day one of the first Test in Dubai and was sidelined for at least two weeks.

"There is still a question mark on Yousuf's fitness," said a source. "World Cup is a long and exhaustive tournament and the selectors want to make it sure that only fully fit players are picked to feature in it," he added.

Yousuf has often been criticised for his below-average fielding, which is another reason why Pakistan are mulling over the option of picking him for only Tests in the future.

Another factor that could play a significant role in Yousuf's axing from Pakistan's one-day and Twenty20 squads is that younger batsmen like Asad Shafiq have really made their presence felt in the last few months.

"While Yousuf seems to be on his way down, younger batsmen like Asad Shafiq are making it increasingly difficult for selectors to ignore them," said the source.

Yousuf has amassed 7,530 runs from 90 Tests at an average of 52.29 with 24 centuries. His ODI record is equally impressive with a tally of 9720 runs from 288 outings at an average of 41.71.

Yousuf, however, hasn't scored a fifty in his last eight ODI outings. The last of his 15 ODI tons came more than 30 months ago against Bangladesh in Lahore in April 2008.

National selectors are expected to announce Pakistan's team for the tour of New Zealand as well as the preliminary squad for the World Cup soon.

Pakistan will play three Twenty20 Internationals, two Tests and six One-day Internationals against New Zealand in December-January.


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