Pakistan opt for best combination against Zimbabwe

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Pakistan Cricket Board has decided to stick to the best possible team for the ODI series against Zimbabwe that is scheduled to get underway next month. It was widely anticipated, and planned by the national selection committee, that new faces will be tried in the relatively low-key series in order to assess Pakistan's backup resources.

"We cannot take Zimbabwe on any other team lightly,"

Nasim Ashraf, chairman of the PCB, told the News.

"That is why we will ensure that our best possible team plays against Zimbabwe and wins the series five-nil."

Salahuddin Ahmed, the chief selector, had earlier planned on introducing young blood into the team during the series.

"We will definitely try out some new faces in whichever department we need them in,"

Salahuddin had said.

"That's not to say that we are taking Zimbabwe lightly, but we need to assess players on the fringes of the national side and this is a good opportunity."

However, after Ashraf attended a couple of domestic matches on Thursday, he had a meeting with Salahuddin where a decision to hold a three-day exercise to test several upcoming cricketers was taken. The camp is scheduled to take place in Karachi from January 9 and will include 22 to 24 promising youngsters in action.

"We will call around 20 to 24 youngsters for a few trial matches ahead of the series against Zimbabwe,"

Ashraf said.

"The players will be selected on the basis of their performance in domestic events as well as during Under-19 assignments."

"We will spot players who can be a part of the national team in the future but will bring them in step by step. This is because we have to make it sure that the team's performance is not affected by too many rapid changes."

"We have a four-day and a three-day game against Zimbabwe and they would provide us with excellent opportunities to check out the youngsters who are knocking at the doors of international cricket."

"We need solid players who can be groomed into world class Test cricketers."

The tour is scheduled to start on January 14 with a four-day match in Karachi. However, yesterday's assassination of Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister, has thrown the immediate fate of the series in doubt.

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